LOS ANGELES — Aside from their lopsided win at Dallas on March 2, the Los Angeles Kings have looked like anything but a playoff-caliber team since the Olympic break.
Indeed, after a 4-2 loss at Nashville in which the Kings were badly outworked and outskated, they put in another poor effort, one in which they failed to at least match the intensity of their opponent, the Montreal Canadiens, who skated out of Staples Center with a 4-2 win in front of a sell-out crowd of 18,118 fans on Saturday night.
The Canadiens received a generous gift from the Kings to start the game when Kings defenseman Jack Johnson lost the puck in the right circle of the Kings zone and then was slow to go after it. A short time later, Canadiens right wing Brian Gionta scored, just 22 seconds into the game.
From that point on, the Kings were back on their heels, slow to react and it was mostly downhill from there.
Although Kings center Anze Kopitar scored his 30th goal of the season, another highlight-reel goal off the rush at 18:16 of the first period to tie the game, the play was an anomaly for the Kings, who generated little offensive pressure and lost the vast majority of loose puck battles and footraces.
Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak also had no trouble at all seeing incoming shots as the Kings were rarely in front of his net to create traffic.
Jonathan Quick did not help himself when he allowed a very soft goal early in the second period when Habs forward Dominic Moore beat him with a slapshot off the rush from above the left circle. Quick was apparently surprised by the shot and was still moving as the puck beat him high, just inside the right goal post at the 4:43 mark.
The Kings handed the Canadiens another gift goal, this time, to start the third period, as the Kings were totally focused on the puck and were chasing the whole time during a scramble around their own net.
Habs forward Benoit Pouliot, who was wide open, ended up with the puck in the left circle and he fired it past Quick at the 0:36 mark, giving the Canadiens a 3-1 lead.
Newly-acquired forward Fredrik Modin scored his third goal of the season and his first with the Kings at the 7:12 mark, the result of his team’s best shift of the game, to bring the Kings within a goal.
But that effort proved to be way too little, way, way too late.
Indicative of their lackadaisical play throughout, Kings defenseman Drew Doughty threw a lazy clearing pass with Quick on the bench for the extra attacker, gift-wrapping an empty-net goal for Canadiens forward Tomas Plekanec at the 18:49 mark to close out the scoring…and the Kings.
- The Kings are 3-8-0 against the Canadiens in their last eleven contests.
- The Kings have not beaten the Canadiens since March 8, 2003 (2-1 at Staples Center).
- Kopitar, who played in his 300th NHL/Kings game, has points in fourteen of his last fifteen games (eleven goals and ten assists for 21 points). His career high in goals is 32, set in 2007-08.
- Ryan Smyth has points in nine of his last ten games (four goals, five assists for nine points).
- Johnson has five assists in the last four games.
- Michal Handzus has ten points in his last eleven games (four goals, six assists).
- The Kings are 13-4-1 in their last eighteen games (11-3-1 in their last fifteen) and 5-1-1 in their last seven games at home. They are also 13-4-0 against the Eastern Conference this season.
- Television play-by-play announcer Bob Miller missed the game broadcast due to illness. Television color commentator Jim Fox and radio color commentator Daryl Evans called the game on FS West. Nick Nickson was joined by LAKingsInsider.com’s Rich Hammond on KTLK AM 1150. This was just the 18th broadcast Miller has missed and the first since November 2, 2002.
- The Kings and the Kings Care Foundation tonight presented a $40,000 donation for the American Red Cross relief operation in Haiti.
Audio Interviews (raw, unedited)
Anze Kopitar (1:59)
Jeff Halpern (2:29)
Ryan Smyth (0:31)
Terry Murray (8:25)
Game Highlights From NHL Video On YouTube
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