LA brought the same sort of effort in the first 50 minutes of tonight's game that they've brought to the last few games, and it looked like they were going to get rewarded for it. Then, Dustin Brown and Robyn Regehr went to the penalty box, and the Kings flat-out crumbled.
Good things from tonight? For one, Marian Gaborik is finding the net. He potted two goals in the second period, and with LA's usual goalscorers struggling mightily, his contributions are even more essential. Chief among them is Jeff Carter; he had a wide open look near the end of this game and was denied by Jake Allen, then had an open net shortly after but couldn't settle the puck down on his backhand. Carter's goalless streak has now reached thirteen games, and though he and Anze Kopitar have been okay possession-wise, it's not showing up in the box score. (Kopitar did get a nice assist on Gaborik's power play goal.)
Overall, the first two periods were strong. Vladimir Tarasenko scored 1:29 after LA increased their lead to 2-0, with St. Louis getting a clean zone entry, Chris Butler patiently waiting for Tarasenko to find some space, and Tarasenko using that fraction of space to rip an inch-perfect wrist shot past Quick. You can't do much about that kind of goal, and it was the only real blemish for LA in the first forty minutes. Otherwise, LA wasn't getting all that many scoring chances, but they were playing a disciplined game and controlling the flow. Gaborik's first goal was greasy, his second was pretty, and LA was twenty minutes from a positive end to the trip.
They didn't make it.
The Kings didn't have a shot on goal in the first ten minutes of the third, but St. Louis only had two themselves, so it was okay! And when Alex Pietrangelo went to the box midway through, LA's much-maligned power play had an opportunity. They couldn't get a second man advantage goal, though, and Dustin Brown took an offensive-zone penalty as it wound down. On the ensuing power play, Tarasenko turnstiled a stumbling Robyn Regehr, and Regehr hooked him to set up a 5-on-3. The fragile lead disappeared as Kevin Shattenkirk deflected a shot off Jaden Schwartz, and before Regehr could finish serving the second penalty, Tarasenko again found some space and went to work.
Alexander Steen made it REALLY hurt 50 seconds later, and Tarasenko's empty-netter gave him a hat trick and made the foregone conclusion official. Remember that Carter shot I mentioned? That was LA's only shot on goal in the third period. It was perhaps the ugliest period of the season, and to make things worse, Steve Ott got the third star. STEVE OTT! That stings.
Thursday brings a rematch on home ice against Marty Brodeur... sounds like a chance to remove the sting, eh?