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Los Angeles Kings @ New York Islanders Game 51 Recap: Groundhog Day for the Kings as the Islanders surge late, 4-2

Punxsutawney Phil proclaims nine more weeks of hell for the Kings.

NHL: Los Angeles Kings at New York Islanders Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the Kings versus the Islanders from the legendary Nassau Coliseum. The Islanders are coming off a 65-minute, 0-0 scoreless tie where they lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning 1-0 in the shootout. This brings us to why the Kings should be scared: the Islanders are 7-0-0 on the second night of a back-to-back. Also, they are 5-1-2 at Nassau this season.

Meanwhile, the Kings are still in a bit of shock after trading away Jack Muzzin earlier in the week, signaling that the Kings have started their rebuild. The move was so alarming to some that Luc Robitaille had to pen a letter to season ticket holders. It went something like this:

“Today we began a difficult but necessary step for our franchise. As we move forward, we will continue to relentlessly pursue and develop talent to become a team that is capable of winning in today’s NHL.”

For me, I reflected on the off-season soap opera that was the Barry Trotz break-up with the Washington Capitals. I openly wished and dreamed that Rob Blake would see the light and replace John Stevens with Trotz. I was greeted with a hearty Bronx Cheer from within my inner circle. Instead, the Kings stuck with the status quo and we all know what happened 13 games in. Now the Islanders sit atop their division and I am left sitting here wondering what could have been.

I know this much—if Barry Trotz were the Kings coach, they would be a lot closer to first place in the Pacific Division than first place in the Jack Hughes Sweepstakes. Yet I digress...

First Period

Islanders 1. Kings 0.

6:09—Whelp, the Islanders won’t be shutout tonight. Fourth-line center Casey Cizikas picks up the loose change and Jonathan Quick couldn’t make an eighth-straight acrobatic save to keep that one out.

Islanders 1. Kings 1.

8:07—Kings with their first goal in 11 days and it doesn’t get prettier than this:

End of Period.

This game definitely has a Groundhog Day feel to it. I’ve seen this game over and over again this season. Watching the Kings in that period, it occurred to me that they seem to lose one of two ways: 1) they get blown out and you wonder if that was the worst game of the season, or 2) they fight to the bitter end, only to drop a tight one, perhaps in overtime, or an empty-net dagger type loss. Tonight feels definitely like the #2 option.

Shots: Islanders 12. Kings 8.

Second Period

The second period can be summed up in two words: Jonathan Quick. Oh boy, I’m going to miss Quickie when he gets traded to Colorado along with Tyler Toffoli for Ottawa’s first round draft pick. Sigh.

End of Period.

Shots: Kings 21. Islanders 20.

Third Period

13:44—Looks like Ilya Kovalchuk and his seven shots on goal has earned a spot on the top line as Alex Iafallo joins Adrian Kempe and Carl Hagelin on the third line. Looks like Willie Desjardins will do a little coaching this game.

Kings 2. Islanders 1.

13:15—And just like that, Kovalchuk on the top line is money in the bank.

Kings 2. Islanders 2.

13:46—That lead didn’t last long. Thirty-one seconds to be exact as Mathew Barzal sneaks past the pylon that is Dion Phaneuf and gets one past Quick. That Groundhog Day feeling just took a seat and is making itself comfortable.

Islanders 3. Kings 2.

17:37—Groundhog Day don’t lie. Michael Dal Colle (who?) scores his second goal of the year, an ugly-leg-kick-re-direct and since the Kings haven’t developed a second-line or third-line or fourth-line scoring threat, that should just about do it.

Islanders 4. Kings 2.

18:29—There’s that empty-net dagger I forewarned earlier. Brock Nelson with his 17th of the year.

End of Game.

Shots: Kings 36. Islanders 32.

Epilogue

Kings sit 10 points out of a playoff spot as the hot seat warms for the players on the trading block.

Next: Monday—The Kings continue their Grammy Trip visiting the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Quotables:

Alec Martinez:

“I thought that we came out and they played last night, they came out hard in the first five minutes and I thought we did a good job of weathering that storm. We had a good half and I was pleased with our game until the last five minutes and I mean it’s cliche but you’ve got to play 60 minutes in this league if you want to win. We didn’t do that and that’s what happens.”

Dustin Brown:

“We actually played well for 55 minutes. I think that was one of our better efforts, quite honestly. We just kind of lost the intensity there for a few minutes and they found a way to get a go-ahead goal late. (It’s) something we just have to take positives from. (I) think we played really hard for the whole game, but those details are the difference between winning and losing.”

Barry Trotz:

“If you don’t show up to work in this business you’re not going to have success. It’s still a workman’s league. You still have to put the work boots on. That line [Dal Colle, Leo Komarov, and Valtteri Filppula] is effective. You don’t look at the numbers. You look at the intangibles. Those are the things analytics can’t describe but only a room can.”