Last season the Kings were able to defeat the Islanders both times the two teams met. However, the Islanders now boast a significantly improved roster and pose a much larger threat than they have in seasons prior. With that said, the Islanders played the night before and the Kings were finally back at home.
The Kings were able to secure an early 1-0 lead thanks to the work of Mike Richards and Dwight King. Mike Richards controlled the puck along the half-boards and tossed an elevated centering pass to the front of the net. King found himself in the right place at the right time as the puck banked off him and in to open the scoring for Los Angeles.
Unfortunately, Mike Richards undid his own work with a tripping penalty later in the period. On the ensuing power play, Brock Nelson wheeled out of the corner and beat Jon Quick on the short side. Quick allowed just enough room for the puck to squeeze by, and the Isles had knotted the game at 1. Despite a later power play for the Kings, the first period ended at that score.
The second period started with an exchange of special teams play. Brayden McNabb took a double minor for high-sticking that the Kings killed effectively. With just 17 seconds left on it, the latter of the two minors was eradicated with an Islanders penalty. The Kings threatened during a brief stretch of 4-on-4 play, but failed to do much with the man advantage themselves.
From there, the second period proceeded quietly. The teams exchanged few shots and even fewer high-quality chances and remained tied as the game proceeded to the third.
In the third, the teams again exchanged fruitless power play attempts, though this time the Kings received the benefit of multiple opportunities. Perhaps reflecting the fact that they were the more rested team, the Kings dominated the shot clock in the period. Unfortunately, Isles' goalie Chad Johnson held strong and the game headed to overtime.
Just after the overtime period began, Jon Quick turned in his best effort. Lubomir Visnovsky was left alone right in front of the Kings' net, and he snapped a one-timer on net following a dangerous cross-crease pass. Quick sprawled out in what has become a pretty well-patented fashion and the puck hit him in the upper arm. For the time being, the game stayed in the balance.
The rest of the overtime, aided by the open ice of 4-on-4 play, was the most enthralling hockey of the evening. Both teams traversed the length of the ice and exchanged chances, but both goalies capped off strong performances to push the game to a shootout.
Kyle Okposo opened the shootout scoring in the latter half of the first round after Chad Johnson stymied Anze Kopitar. Then, after Jeff Carter failed to score on his attempt, Frans Nielsen wristed a shot between Quick's legs to win the game for the Islanders.
It's easy to get wrapped up in over-analysis with the way the Kings have played so far this season, but at this point it's hard to not be concerned. While they've been up and down in terms of results, they've been consistently underwhelming in terms of puck possession. This game was no different, despite the slightest of edges in 5v5 shot attempts.
Considering that they were at home, facing a team playing the second leg of a back-to-back, you'd except more than nearly an even share of possession. While the Kings were missing Justin Williams and Darryl Sutter decided that Jordan Nolan was the best option for the top line, it doesn't explain another average performance in a long string of them against teams the Kings should be better than.
The Kings were certainly not bad, and they haven't really been bad this season. They just haven't been very good yet, which is not a scene we're accustomed to after the past few seasons. Even when they lost in recent seasons, they played well and dominated the puck. That's not the case right now.
With that said, the Kings have responded to an extended losing streak by earning 3 of their last 4 points. Another tough match-up sits ahead, as Vancouver rolls into town for a Saturday night affair on Hockey Night in Canada.