|LAK||0||1||0||(0 - 0)||1|
|STL||1||0||1||(0 - 0)||2|
ST. LOUIS -- The soft goal will be the highlight, the gaffe remembered as the play that cost the Kings a game and dropped them another place in the conference standings.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick deserved a better fate than that, and his teammates in general probably deserved a better fate Tuesday night, but the Kings took another big fall as they lost to the St. Louis Blues 2-1 before 19,150 at Scottrade Center.
The Kings, after a wobbly first period, looked to be in line to earn at least a point from the game. Kyle Clifford's tip-in, of a Matt Greene slap shot, tied the game in the second period and the Kings controlled the pace for long stretches of the final two periods.
Then, with under seven minutes left in the third period, St. Louis' Erik Johnson flipped an innocent looking wrist shot on net, from the top of the right circle, likely hoping for some traffic in front and a rebound. Quick played the shot well, dropping to his knees to gather it in his midsection, but then the puck appeared behind him and trickled over the line.
``We didn't get the two points, and a bad goal at the end of the game cost us,'' Quick said.
At the time of the shot, St. Louis' David Backes was charging hard to the net, but Kings coach Terry Murray said that didn't, and shouldn't have, impacted Quick.
``That's just a shot from the boards,'' Murray said. ``That's a play that you've got to have, 100 percent of the time. It just found its way through.''
The number of positives for the Kings right now is minuscule, and shrinking by the day.
Less than three weeks ago, the Kings were in fourth place in the Western Conference. Now they're in 12th place, having been leapfrogged Tuesday night by a St. Louis team that has won only two games this month. Both of those wins are against the Kings.
The Kings are 2-9-0 in their last 11 games, and this week's set of back-to-back games, in Dallas and St. Louis, did nothing but add to the Kings' midseason frustrations.
Things don't get any easier in the short term. The Kings now have a back-to-back set against Phoenix, a team that has beaten them in two of three meetings this season, followed by games against Boston and San Jose before 10 consecutive road games.
``We don't have time to (expletive) think about it,'' Brown said. ``We've got to find ways to get wins. Other teams are going to find ways, especially down the stretch, and we've got to find ways. We've just got to find a way.''
The quick, two-game road trip made one thing clear: the Kings need offense.
For a second consecutive night, the Kings got good enough defense and goaltending to win, but couldn't put more than one goal on the scoreboard.
Consider that, on a team that has an All-Star in Anze Kopitar and a handful of veteran forwards, the only goal -- in a critical game against a team below the Kings in the standings -- came from a 20-year-old rookie, after a slap shot from a player who hasn't scored a goal in 61 games. The Kings needed help from elsewhere, and didn't get it.
Give credit to Blues goalie Jaroslav Halak, who looked sharp throughout the game and made 26 saves, but the Kings needed to generate more against the struggling Blues.
``We've got to start getting results here, regardless of how good we play,'' team captain Dustin Brown said. ``I thought we did play a good game tonight, but we've got to find a way to win. That's going to take everyone here. It's not going to be one (expletive) guy. We win and lose as a team, so we've got to find a way to get wins here, and quickly.''
One had to figure it wasn't going to be an easy night for the Kings when forward Brad Richardson got hurt in the first two minutes. Hurt by the opposing goalie, that is. Richardson took it in the chops when he collided with Halak -- Halak's stick, to be accurate -- on the third shift of the game, and things didn't get much better.
The Kings once again slumbered on the power play -- they were 0-for-4 -- and took poor penalties, including two that cost them early and one that cost them late.
St. Louis' first goal was a 5-on-3 goal, scored after penalties to Alexei Ponikarovsky (elbowing) and Brown (slashing). Then, with less than four minutes to go in the third period, and the Kings trying to tie the game, Drew Doughty was called for slashing.
Also, near the end of the second period, Doughty was called for slashing Vladimir Sobotka, a clear attempt at retaliation after Sobotka earlier checked Doughty.
``You just can't take those penalties. It's a critical time of the year,'' Murray said. ``The points are so big. And the retaliation, the undisciplined play there by Doughty too, to retaliate about 30 seconds after a hit, you can't do those things in a 1-1 game.''
The Blues had scored only one power-play goal in their last seven games, but took advantage of a golden opportunity in the middle part of the first period. Two Kings penalties gave St. Louis a 58-second 5-on-3 advantage, and the Blues scored when Matt D'Agostini found Patrik Berglund going to the net backdoor and hit him with a pass from the left circle. Berglund's one-time shot from close range beat Quick with 8:04 remaining in the first period for a 1-0 lead.
The Kings increased the pressure significantly on the Blues in the second period, and broke through to tie the game with 3:39 remaining. The Kings worked the puck down low, then pushed it up to Greene at the left point. Greene's high slap shot was deflected by Clifford in front and beat Halak to tie the game 1-1.
The third period was tight and scoreless until the Blues took the lead with 6:47 remaining. Johnson held the puck near the top of the right circle and flipped a relatively harmless looking wrist shot on net. Quick made the stop, but couldn't hold the puck as it trickled behind him and over the line to give the Blues a 2-1 lead.
That goal spoiled what was otherwise a strong night for Quick.
``Quick played well tonight,'' Murray said. `Again, we had a lot of pressure on us in the early going, with the 5-on-3. That's a great play. Give the guy a mark for making that kind of a pass. But we had some big stops from Quicker. He held his ground. He was real solid in his game.''
|PPG - Patrik Berglund (9) Snap shot - ASST: Matt D'Agostini (14), Alex Pietrangelo (16)|
1 - 0 STL
|Kyle Clifford (4) Slapshot - ASST: Matt Greene (3), Brad Richardson (4)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Erik Johnson (5) Wrist shot - ASST: Alexander Steen (18), Eric Brewer (6)|
2 - 1 STL
|Alexei Ponikarovsky Elbowing against David Backes|
|Dustin Brown Slashing against David Backes|
|Vladimir Sobotka Interference against Trevor Lewis|
|Roman Polak Fighting (maj) against Kyle Clifford|
|Kyle Clifford Fighting (maj) against Roman Polak|
|Barret Jackman Tripping against Justin Williams|
|Willie Mitchell Holding against Brad Winchester|
|Jay McClement Hooking against Anze Kopitar|
|Drew Doughty Slashing against Vladimir Sobotka|
|Vladimir Sobotka Tripping against Justin Williams|
|Drew Doughty Slashing against Vladimir Sobotka|
|SA: 26||TOI: 59:02|
|Saves: 24||EV: 17 - 18|
|PIM: 0||PP: 6 - 7|
|SV%: .923||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 27||TOI: 59:49|
|Saves: 26||EV: 21 - 22|
|PIM: 0||PP: 5 - 5|
|SV%: .963||SH: 0 - 0|