Recap: Kings Fall Behind Early in St. Paul, Lose to Wild 4-1
First period miscues doomed a late-starting Kings squad. The Kings fall to 3-1 on this road trip, which finishes up in Chicago on Monday.
This one was hard to figure out. At times, it looked like the Los Angeles Kings were being outplayed by the Minnesota Wild. At other times, it looked like the Kings were just not getting the bounces despite doing everything right (overall Corsi For favored the Kings 73-34; the Kings also led in shots on goal 32-20). Either way, it's a loss that probably didn't sit great with people. Prescription: waffles.
There has never been a sadness that can't be cured by breakfast food.— Ron Swanson (@RonUSwanson) February 5, 2014
Things escalated quickly for the Wild tonight, as the Kings looked rusty following yesterday's mandatory rest. An early first period play that started on a harmless-looking dump-in by the Wild ended with Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty getting confused in coverage and letting Nino Niederreiter in close on Jonathan Quick for an easy backhander to put Minnesota up 1-0. The Kings still looked like they hadn't quite discovered their skating legs when a poor exchange between Kopitar and Andrej Sekera in the neutral zone led to this nifty backhand by Mikko Koivu.
Though neither goal was strictly Jonathan Quick's fault, he was pulled and Martin Jones began the second period in goal for the Kings.
Tonight, the Kings' second line (or, more appropriately, their second first line) was again L.A.'s best. Early in the second, Dwight King's wrister on a pretty pass from Carter brought the Kings within one. Later, Tyler Toffoli had a fantastic opportunity to tie the game on the power play, but the
skillful lucky well-placed stick of Jonas Brodin ruined everything.
Brodin. That's all. #WOW pic.twitter.com/dK2AHf7WeO— Minnesota Wild (@mnwild) March 29, 2015
But seriously, on a night when Minnesota blocked 24 shots, maybe the Kings had that one coming.
As he had in the second, Toffoli played an instrumental role in the third period. But unfortunately for our youthful protagonist and his loyal band of followers, his effect was a negative one. With the Kings applying pressure in the offensive zone, Toffoli was whistled late in the third period when Ryan Suter tripped over his stick in front of the net. On a night when both teams' penalty killing squads mounted more threats than the power plays opposing them, having their best penalty killer in the box on a late penalty was ruinous for the Kings.
On the ensuing power play, Doughty (who has looked a bit off this week) allowed Niederreiter to slip into the slot, where he tipped a Jared Spurgeon pass into the net. Daryl Sutter pulled Jones, but the Kings wasted no time jettisoning their man-up opportunity. Doughty loitered in the neutral zone before giving the puck to Koivu, who put it into the open net from the red line to finalize the score at 4-1 Minnesota. Related: If the first rule of hockey is you do not talk about hockey, and the second rule of hockey is you do not talk about hockey, the third rule of hockey is that things will not go the Kings' way when an empty net is involved. Look at this internet thing that proves it. [Hat tip: RudyKelly.]
Per usual, Sheng says it best in 140 characters or less:
Kings pay for one bad period. Overall EV scoring chances: #LAKings 8 #MNWild 6. By period: LAK 3-4-1, MIN 4-2-0— Sheng Peng (@Sheng_Peng) March 29, 2015
Everybody enjoy your waffles, have a great Sunday, and get ready for the Blackhawks in Chicago on Monday.