A strange contest occurred at Staples Center on Thursday night, as the Los Angeles Kings brought us perhaps their first Classic LA Kings-style loss of the season. (You can count the Night 2 loss against Arizona if you'd like to, but it's hard to complain about zero points when you give up the first four goals.) What was the cause?
There's no question that, after being largely on their heels in the first 20 minutes, the Columbus Blue Jackets got exactly what they wanted in the second period: a game with no flow whatsoever. A first period fight between Kyle Clifford and Nick Foligno and a scuffle between Jonathan Quick and Scott Hartnell set an early tone, and considering the Kings were looking like the better team despite an early deficit, the message coming out of the locker room had to be "stay the course." Instead, the game devolved into a mess of fights and scrums in the second period, and though the Kings outshot Columbus 8-0, they couldn't reasonably say they had a firm grip on things going into the third.
After fighting the Blue Jackets for most of the game, the Kings turn their attention back to their usual combatant: scoring.— Jewels frm the Crown (@JFTC_Kings) November 6, 2015
Could LA have had a better grip on things going into the third with a few more bounces? Yeah, probably. For one, the Kings ran into the good Sergei Bobrovsky (fewer than two goals allowed in four of his last five starts) rather than the bad one (18 goals allowed in his first four starts). Tanner Pearson and Drew Doughty each were given looks on Columbus d-zone breakdowns that should have been goals, but their near-perfect shots went off the crossbar/post corner and out of play instead of into the net. And there was the matter of the second goal, a Nick Foligno front-net feed which banked off the leg of Brandon Dubinsky. Let's just say not everything turned out as expected.
Just act cool no one saw anything okay pic.twitter.com/U7cRih2Xcz— LA Kings (@LAKings) November 6, 2015
That lack of luck could have been a footnote if the Kings had come out stronger in the third period, but having played three games in four nights (and two in the Central Time Zone), LA simply didn't have the jump after expending so much energy during the second period. For the first time all evening, the Blue Jackets established some territorial dominance, and Gregory Campbell scored midway through the third off a controlled zone entry by Jack Johnson. It felt like a dagger.
All in all, though, the Kings simply didn't do enough to win, and that's what it often comes back to in these frustrating games. Dustin Brown continues to fire shots (nine attempts tonight), but Marian Gaborik was invisible. Alec Martinez had another strong game defensively and found the net, but Brayden McNabb let Foligno get loose in the corner in the lead-up to goal #2. Doughty missed the top corner when it was open for him, but hey, so did Johnson, and he redeemed himself. Jonathan Quick was solid for most of the evening, but Bobrovsky was better. The Kings scored on a first-period power play, but so did the Blue Jackets. And Jeff Carter scored with the goalie pulled, but it was too little, too late.
Call it the LA Kings Combo Platter, a combination of drawbacks that added up to an annoying 3-2 defeat. Back at it tomorrow!