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Los Angeles

Game Recap

Kings lose to Blues 3-1

Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 1:49 AM

Rich Hammond

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Kings lose to Blues 3-1
St. Louis Blues 3, Los Angeles Kings 1

The Kings allowed three goals Thursday night, and scored one, but the most damning numbers of the game were the ones that weren't on the scoreboard.

After a first period of fairly even, but hardly inspiring, play, the Kings got a goal from Michal Handzus to tie the game at the 5:37 mark of the second period. The goal, an equal product of skill and hard work, might have propelled the Kings to more success.

It didn't. In fact, over the next 14 minutes, 23 seconds -- the remainder of the second period -- the Kings recorded only one shot on goal. Meanwhile, St. Louis scored twice, then held on for a 3-1 win over the Kings before 17,932 at STAPLES Center.

At this point, the Kings' season-long eight-game homestand is beyond salvaging. They're 1-6, with only Saturday's game against Edmonton remaining, and overall the Kings have lost seven of their last eight games and have slipped to 11th in the Western Conference.

``We'll find a way through this together, but not one or two guys is going to do it,'' Kings winger Ryan Smyth said. ``Yes, guys have got to step up and raise their level of play, for sure, but it's going to be with everybody in this locker room.

``Everybody wants to win. There's a sense of urgency and a winning attitude, but it's finding it and playing with confidence and building one period or one shift at a time to carry forth into the next and then into the game situations when you're winning.''

Of course, in the topsy-turvy West, one good week can change a team's fortunes quickly, but the storyline has shifted for the Kings. After a 12-3 start to the season, they set themselves up for a potential run at the Pacific Division title. Now, they will have to be outstanding in February and March simply to avoid a battle for eighth place in the West.

``We just have to get on board with everybody doing the right thing for the 60 minutes,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``It looks like that's the only way we're going to break through on this thing right now. We're making one mistake, and it ends up being the difference in the game.''

In the Blues, the Kings faced a team that had lost five consecutive games -- four in regulation, including the previous night in Anaheim -- had allowed a total of 11 goals in its previous two games and didn't feature a ton of offensive firepower.

For most of the game, the Kings turned in an honest effort, but the revamped lines generated little offense, at least until the Kings faced a two-goal deficit. After Handzus' goal, the Kings went nearly 20 consecutive minutes with only one shot recorded.

Handzus tied the game 1-1, after BJ Crombeen's first-period goal, but Ryan Reaves scored with 5:44 remaining in the second period and Alexander Steen scored 4:40 later. The Blues beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick three times on only 21 shots.

The Kings, meanwhile, put only 25 shots on Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak, and 11 of those game in the third period, when the Blues sat back and protected their two-goal lead. Fans booed for most of the final minute of the third period, likely upset not so much with the third-period effort as with the lackluster second-period play after Handzus' goal.

Entering the game, the Kings hoped to shake things up by reuniting the top line of Smyth, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, which had great success in the early part of last season. Kyle Clifford, Handzus and Brown made up the second line.

The numbers didn't show much. Kopitar, Smyth and Williams combined for 10 of the Kings' 25 shots, but had zero points. Handzus had a goal, but it came with the power-play unit still on the ice, and it was Handzus' only shot. Brown and Clifford each had two shots.

``There's a lot of positives from today's game, but the big negative is that we lost,'' third-line center Jarret Stoll said. ``We were positive on the bench, we were positive in the room. We had a good, hard work game, I think, but we just never got rewarded.

``I don't think they outplayed us. I just think they capitalized on more of their chances than we did. It's not going to be easy to turn this ship around. We have to understand it's going to take everybody. It's going to take a lot of hard work and effort and concentration by 24, 25 guys in here. We just aren't find that right now.''

The Blues opened the scoring with a goal with 8:22 remaining in the first period. Off a St. Louis offensive-zone faceoff win, Alex Pietrangelo held the puck at the right point and fired a high wrist shot, and with Quick facing traffic right in front of him, the puck got tipped by Crombeen into the net for a 1-0 lead for the Blues.

Handzus' goal tied the game 5:37 into the second period. Alec Martinez's initial shot, from just inside the blue line, was blocked, but Martinez kept the puck in the zone and shot again. The puck was deflected by St. Louis' Erik Johnson on the way to the net, then deflected again by Handzus. Jack Johnson also got an assist on the goal, which came three seconds after the end of a power play.

The Blues took the lead again with 5:44 remaining in the second period. Philip McRae turned and fired from the left side, and Johnson made a hit to clear the crease, but Quick couldn't control the puck. Reaves skated in, picked up the loose rebound and tucked it into the net to give St. Louis a 2-1 lead.

 ``There were a couple of goals there that I just don't like,'' Murray said. ``It makes it very hard. We're a team that's trying to battle through to get something going, and we give up that first one on a wrist shot from the boards, from the outside of the dots. I know it went off a stick, but it goes short-side. I think that's a play that we've either got to step in front of, as a D group, or we've got to get a stop on those.

``The other one was a puck laying around after a shot off the side boards, and we got beat to the net. That's where you've got to get body position.''

St. Louis took a two-goal lead with 1:04 remaining in the second period. Brad Boyes held on to the the puck near the right boards, fought off some tight checking from Drew Doughty and pushed the puck ahead to Steen. Steen, from the inside of the faceoff circle, beat Quick with a high wrist shot to give the Blues a 3-1 lead.

``I think it comes down to having confidence in all situations,'' Murray said. ``We got the good start. I know we were down by one. You come back and tie it, and there were some real good shifts after that. The confidence is good, and then you end up giving up another goal. It's hard on a team, when you're a group of guys that's in the state that we're in.

``It's very difficult to push through and come back with, `It's OK, guys. Let's just come back and keep going.' You say it, but it's hard. Then they capitalize on the next goal, and that really made it very, very difficult.'''

scoring summary
1st Period
B.J. Crombeen (4) ASST: Alex Pietrangelo (15), Patrik Berglund (14)
1 - 0 STL
2nd Period
Michal Handzus (7) ASST: Alec Martinez (5), Jack Johnson (28)
1 - 1 Tie
Ryan Reaves (2) ASST: Philip McRae (1), Chris Porter (2)
2 - 1 STL
Alexander Steen (15) ASST: Brad Boyes (15), Erik Johnson (12)
3 - 1 STL
3rd Period
penalty summary
1st Period
2nd Period
Roman Polak  Hooking against  Kyle Clifford
B.J. Crombeen  Hi-sticking against  Willie Mitchell
Wayne Simmonds  Roughing against  B.J. Crombeen
3rd Period
goalie stats
Jaroslav Halak
Jaroslav Halak
SA: 25TOI: 60:00
Saves: 24EV: 21 - 22
PIM: 0PP: 3 - 3
SV%: .960SH: 0 - 0
Jonathan Quick
SA: 21TOI: 59:13
Saves: 18EV: 17 - 20
PIM: 0PP: 1 - 1
SV%: .857SH: 0 - 0