Kings Dealt Loss in Shootout, 2-1

Jonathan Quick allows the eventual game winner from Ryan Clowe. (photo courtesy of NHL.com)

For the first time in a month, the Kings played on back-to-back nights. And after a solid performance two days ago against the Ducks, they earned a point, yet were dealt an overtime loss at the hands of the division-leading San Jose Sharks.

The first period saw a flurry of chances for the Kings’ offense, which suddenly appeared to be well on their way to busting out of the past month’s offensive funk. Trent Hunter fed a wide-open Dustin Brown in front of the net, but Brown was unable to lift the puck over the outstretched stick of a San Jose defenseman and it rolled to the right of Antti Niemi.

A two-on-one break several minutes later led to another soft lob from Anze Kopitar right in front of the net, but Brad Richardson couldn’t bat it out of the air and put much behind it before Niemi stretched over to make the save.

The Kings outshot San Jose 7-5 in the first period and from there, the game turned into the physical, low-scoring affair one might expect from these divisional rivals.

The first goal wouldn’t come until Logan Couture’s snapshot over the glove of Jonathan Quick almost eight minutes into the second period. Mike Richards responded on the powerplay before the period expired with his thirteenth of the year.

Some stellar goaltending by Quick in the third period kept the Kings in the game and pushed the contest into overtime. It was the third straight overtime game (and after five minutes of scoreless play) and third straight shootout for Los Angeles. Unfortunately, this would be the first one they would lose. Ryan Clowe scored on the Sharks’ fourth attempt. In an attempt to even the score once again, Richards quickly picked up speed but lost control of the puck right before he got to Niemi, weakly stuffing it right into the keeper’s pads.

For what it’s worth, the Kings are undefeated in regulation in the three games since the 8-2 loss to Detroit last Saturday. Darryl Sutter can spend the holidays at home knowing that his team, who currently sits at fourth place in the division and a mere four points behind the leaders, has some work to do going forward. The offense needs to be getting chances much more consistently and avoid resting each game on the shoulders of Quick. As exceptional of a year he may be having, it’s simply not an effective way to go about winning games. (An understatement to say the least).

After the break, the Kings have four games in one week before New Year’s Day. The Coyotes come to town on Monday, followed by a trip to Chicago and Winnipeg and finally a home date with Vancouver next Saturday. There is no doubt these Kings would like to get back on track sooner than later, the question is, just how soon will it be?