Recap: Kings Run out of Gas in Buffalo
They've had a tough and tight schedule and it appeared to catch up with them against the Sabres.
Generally, the Kings rely on systematic dominance to win games. Early on, it became apparent that not everything in the system had booted up properly.
The somewhat-less-than-before-but-still-rather-hapless Buffalo Sabres controlled play from the get-go. Luckily, the very first Kings shot of the game came off the stick of Marian Gaborik 4:47 into play. Gaborik turned a great set up from Anze Kopitar on a 2-on-1 into a 1-0 lead for the Kings. That goal didn't shift the flow of action, though. Most of the game continued to be played in front of backup goalie Jhonas Enroth.
On one of the few Kings forays into the offensive zone, Jordan Weal got leveled by Sabres defenseman Mike Weber; Jordan Nolan responded inappropriately (or appropriately, depending on how you feel about things like this, I guess) to put the Kings on the penalty kill. Quickly, the Sabres took advantage of the situation. Jamie McGinn scored the kind of goal that makes you say, "I forgot that Jamie McGinn is still in the league," and the game was tied at 1.
Still, the Kings refused to wake up. At the end of the first period, shots were 12-3 Sabres. The Kings were, perhaps, lucky to escape with the game knotted at 1.
Early in the second, the Kings got another chance to to score on their first shot of the period, and again it was the result of a Kopitar-Gaborik 2-on-1. Kopitar fed Gaborik another nice pass, but Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark got across the goalmouth to shut the door and keep the game tied.
Late in the second, the Sabres appeared to break through. On a 4-on-2 rush, Jack Eichel skated into the zone with Jake McCabe on his left. Eichel held up and let McCabe sneak behind the Kings defenders. Eichel then dished out a beautiful saucer pass to McCabe, who matched the pass with a beautiful shot that beat Jhonas Enroth. The Sabres briefly had a 2-1 lead.
Darryl Sutter decided to use his Coach's Challenge to determine whether or not the Sabres were offside when they entered the zone on that rush. Fortune rewarded Sutter and the Kings, and the refs overturned the call on the ice. Once again, the Kings were lucky to survive the period with the game tied.
Briefly into the third period, Jim Fox wasn't sugarcoating things for the Kings. To describe what it might look like if the Kings managed to steal this game, Fox said, "they can't all be Rembrandts."
Shortly after Fox said this, the Kings found something resembling their normal game.
On one of the rare effective Kings forechecks in the game, Drew Doughty busted out his patented spin move. As he slid down the wing, the Sabres parted, leaving Doughty a lane to pass across the top of the crease. His pass found the stick of Tyler Toffoli, who... remained snakebit. Ullmark got across the goalmouth to rob the Kings once again. Following this, they were able to sustain an attack in the offensive zone for several shifts in a row. Things were still a touch out of sync, but they were at least out of sync at a safe part of the ice.
The Kings carried this momentum through the end of regulation. Just as time was about to expire, Milan Lucic had a glorious chance to win the game. Unfortunately, Lucic couldn't bury his chance. For a second straight night and third straight game, the Kings would play 3-on-3 hockey.
Despite looking as if they were tired for the vast majority of the night, the Kings carried play in overtime. Anze Kopitar had the first grade-A chance of the period, but his breakaway attempt was shut down. A minute later, Drew Doughty made a slick move to buy himself a 1-on-1 with the goalie. Unfortunately, Ullmark was up to the task again.
Just as it appeared as if the Kings might have found their game in time to snag an extra point, Buffalo answered with a breakaway of their own. Though Brian Gionta fired the puck high, a few moments later Ryan O'Reilly displayed the skill that pushed Buffalo to trade for him. As he drifted toward the slot, Alec Martinez tripped him to the ice. As O'Reilly fell to the ice, he managed just enough leverage on the puck to roof the overtime winner past Enroth.
It was a tough loss, just because it looked like the Kings had a chance to steal a pair of points. Still, getting even a point out of this game feels like a tiny bit of burglary. The Kings now have points in seven straight games. They'll get a chance to rest tomorrow before heading to Ottawa on Monday.