|PIT||1||0||1||0||1 (2 - 4)||3|
|LAK||0||1||1||0||0 (1 - 4)||2|
Analyzing a shootout loss can be a bit like taking a Rorschach test.
It’s easy to see different things in what the Kings did on the ice in their 3-2 shootout loss to Pittsburgh on Saturday night before a sellout crowd of 18,118 at STAPLES Center.
On one hand, the Kings turned in a much-improved all-around effort against one of the NHL’s top teams. On the other hand, they lost, and are 1-3-2 in their last six games.
On one hand, the Kings got a big third-period goal from Simon Gagne to take a 2-1 lead. On the other hand, they lost that lead on a game-tying goal with three minutes left.
On one hand, the first line came up big, as Anze Kopitar scored a goal and assisted on Gagne’s goal. On the other hand, where was the offense from the other lines?
On one hand, the Kings ended their home scoring drought against a good defensive team. On the other hand, they once again failed to score a third goal, and have scored two or fewer regulation goals in 11 of their 13 games this season.
On one hand, the Kings prevented the Penguins from putting the game away early, with some strong special-teams play. On the other hand, the Kings put themselves in a bad position by taking a staggering total of five minor penalties in the first period.
In the end, the consensus on the Kings’ effort seemed to fall along these lines: better, a step forward, but still not where they want to be, particularly in the offensive end.
``The outcome wasn’t the way we wanted it to be, but I think our game overall was much better than it was last game,’’ Kopitar said. ``If we play like that, I like our chances in each and every game. We had a couple chances in the third and in OT but we couldn’t score there. It didn’t go our way tonight.’’
The Kings went nearly 160 minutes between goals at home, and had been shut out in two consecutive home game. That ended with 6:24 remaining in the second period, when Kopitar scored on a nice backhand move in front of the net to tie the game 1-1.
The Kings kept up the pressure and missed a huge opportunity midway through the third period, when Mike Richards missed the net on a penalty-shot attempt.
Gagne’s goal gave the Kings a 2-1 lead, but they couldn’t hold it as Chris Kunitz scored with 2:57 remaining. After a spirited but scoreless overtime, the Kings got a shootout goal from Kopitar but the Penguins got shootout goals from Kris Letang and Kunitz.
``Tonight, I thought we had some big-time chances,’’ defenseman Matt Greene said. ``This team is good enough that it’s going to come around for us. Guys are going to start scoring goals. It’s going to happen sooner or later by sticking with the system and doing what we do, cycling the puck, and getting chances is how it’s going to happen.’’
Jonathan Quick, nearly unbeatable in shootouts last season, fell to 0-2 this season but, in regulation, was outstanding as he stopped 31 Pittsburgh shots. Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury was equal to the task as well, with 24 saves.
``That was a good game out there,’’ Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``With the number of power plays they had in the first period, we did a great job on the penalty kill. I know we gave up one, but the attitude was tremendous, to get in those lanes and block shots and just to really dig in. Then we carried through in the second period.
``The pace of the game picked up. The compete level got real heavy. Our dot-to-board game was as good as it’s been all year long, in my opinion, and I liked that. It’s the way we have to play. Unfortunately, that tying goal they got at the end, but it’s a strong play by them. Overall, I was really happy with our compete.’’
The Kings killed two penalties in the game’s first 10 minutes, but finally got stung when they gave the Penguins a 5-on-3 power play for 30 seconds, then took a delay-of-game penalty that gave the Penguins a two-man advantage for 1:56.
The Kings killed all of the two-man advantage, but the Penguins scored a power-play goal with 1:15 remaining to take a 1-0 lead. Anze Kopitar attempted to break up a pass but slid out of the play, and the Penguins pushed the puck low. Letang passed to Steve Sullivan, whose one-timer from a sharp angle beat Quick. James Neal also got an assist.
The Kings ended their home scoreless streak at 158 minutes, 32 seconds, and tied the game 1-1 with 6:24 remaining in the second period. Greene intercepted a Pittsburgh pass at center ice, then passed ahead to Justin Williams. Williams found Kopitar with space, in the slot, and Kopitar skated in and beat Fleury with a backhand shot from close range.
The Kings took their first lead of the game with 6:11 remaining. Kopitar took a pass from Williams and had room in front of the net, but made a deft pass to his right, where Gagne was open and scored on a close-range one-timer to give the Kings a 2-1 lead.
The Kings had a goal immediately waved off because of a high-stick call, and the Penguins tied the game 23 seconds later. Jordan Staal pushed the puck behind the Kings’ net to Kunitz, who quickly brought it back out front and tucked it into the net before Quick could slide across for the save, and the Penguins tied the game 2-2 with 2:57 remaining in regulation.
Kopitar and Letang scored in the first three rounds of the shootout, and then after Fleury stopped Gagne in the fourth round, Kunitz beat Quick to end the game.
``I think the last couple games, yeah we lost those two in regulation and then tonight we lost in a shootout,’’ Greene said. ``We’re playing well and I thought tonight was a good game for us. Sometimes that the way it goes in a shootout. Not much you can do. We want to win every game and go out and get two points every night, but that’s not going to happen. Now we have to focus on San Jose.’’
|PPG - Steve Sullivan (1) ASST: Kris Letang (12), James Neal (5)|
1 - 0 PIT
|Anze Kopitar (7) ASST: Justin Williams (6), Matt Greene (3)|
1 - 1 Tie
|Simon Gagne (4) ASST: Anze Kopitar (9), Justin Williams (7)|
2 - 1 LAK
|Chris Kunitz (5) ASST: Jordan Staal (4), Pascal Dupuis (7)|
2 - 2 Tie
|1||J. Stoll||E. Malkin|
|2||A. Kopitar||K. Letang|
|3||D. Brown||J. Neal|
|4||S. Gagne||C. Kunitz|
|Simon Gagne Hi-sticking against Paul Martin|
|Ethan Moreau Boarding against Chris Kunitz|
|James Neal Tripping against Mike Richards|
|Willie Mitchell Slashing against Evgeni Malkin|
|Ethan Moreau Slashing against Jordan Staal|
|Rob Scuderi Delaying Game-Puck over glass|
|Kris Letang Roughing against Dustin Brown|
|Chris Kunitz Too many men/ice - bench|
|Robert Bortuzzo Roughing against Mike Richards|
|Jarret Stoll Slashing against Joe Vitale|
|SA: 26||TOI: 65:00|
|Saves: 24||EV: 20 - 22|
|PIM: 0||PP: 3 - 3|
|SV%: .923||SH: 1 - 1|
|SA: 33||TOI: 65:00|
|Saves: 31||EV: 23 - 24|
|PIM: 0||PP: 8 - 9|
|SV%: .939||SH: 0 - 0|