Antti Raanta may not be the most feared goaltender in the league, but the Kings have had their share of difficulites in facing him. Until today, the last time the Kings scored against him was on February 12, 2016, when Raanta was still with the New York Rangers. (Tanner Pearson had the goal.)
His shutout streak ended at 122:25 today thanks to Anze Kopitar, who opened scoring for the Kings with a power play goal in the second period.
So that’s at least something.
But goals from Kopitar and Nikolai Prokhorkin weren’t enough to keep the Kings home win streak alive, as the Coyotes held on to a 3-2 lead to walk away with the win.
In case you hadn’t been paying attention, the Coyotes are good now, finally with a solid mixture of young and exciting players, combined with experienced veterans. They’re getting quality goaltending from Raanta and Darcy Kuemper. And for the first time in a long time, they have a largely healthy roster, with only defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson out of the lineup right now.
So the final score shouldn’t be a surprise. But the Kings now are staring down another game where they probably feel as if they did everything right but yet weren’t rewarded for it.
And statistically, that’s true — the Kings outshot the Coyotes, 45-19, including a massive number of shots from dangerous areas (16 high danger chances for the Kings. seven for the Coyotes), took only one penalty, and controlled long stretches of the game.
But as we’ve seen in too many losses lately, the finish and the attention to detail just wasn’t there for the Kings. There was overpassing, there was passing to players who were already covered, there were long sequences where player try to get too fancy instead of just putting a puck on net.
The Kings started slow and found themselves playing catch up the whole time. The team has yet to win a game this season when trailing after the first period — or the second period. Even Blake Lizotte, new to the team and therefore not a part of years of history of slow starts, knows and admits that the team needs to get off to a faster start.
Blake Lizotte says the LA Kings need better starts.— LA Kings (@LAKings) November 24, 2019
More from the young forward ↓ pic.twitter.com/umvoZKhJFP
Yes, there was improvement from the last game against Arizona — the Kings scored goals, first off. But for a team that fairly easily handled the Edmonton Oilers just a few nights ago, seeing them abandon some of the same strategies that helped them limit the Oilers to just one goal was a frustrating step backwards.
Jonathan Quick made 16 saves on 18 shots, and the two goals he did allow were more a function of the players in front of him letting him down than Quick not being sharp. In fact, Quick had his share of strong saves today, continuing an overall upwards trend in his play since his season started in disastrous fashion.
The Kings will regroup and prepare to face the Sharks on Monday, the first of two times the teams will play each other this week. The Sharks, who have struggled to start the season, have won seven of their last 10 and are looking closer to their usual standard of play than they did earlier in the (still young) season.