Kings Fall to Wild, Hackett 4-2

Ethan Moreau (17) skates off the ice as Mikko Koivu celebrates his first period goal.

The Minnesota Wild are the best team in hockey. Jonathan Quick was not at his best tonight. And well, that’s all you really need to know about last night’s contest from the Staples Center. The Kings fell by a score of 4-2 thanks to two defensive gaffes at the start of the first and second period. Any offense that was mounted by Terry Murray’s bunch was stifled by the outstanding effort from the other net-minder on the ice, 21-year old Matt Hackett.

Dustin Penner (!) netted his second goal of the year 3:59 into the third period of play, which ended Hackett’s shutout bid and temporarily provided the Kings with some spark. It wouldn’t last however, as Minnesota’s Cody Almond flicked a shot between Quick’s legs and into the net. At that point, the score was 4-1 and an additional tally by Trent Hunter (his first on the year) did little to alter the final result. The Kings’ offense certainly had their chances tonight, but just couldn’t find a way to get the puck passed the surging rookie goaltender at the opposite end of the ice.

The loss dropped the Kings to an abysmal 8-8-1 record on home ice and fourth place within the division, one point behind Dallas.

It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the team played less than inspiring hockey for the majority of this game. Any momentum; any energy; any desire was swallowed right up with every turnover at their own end or stop by Hackett. The very first Minnesota goal, a mere 24 seconds into the game, was caused by a fortunate bounce off the end boards that slid right onto Mikko Koivu’s stick and slid underneath an outstretched Quick. Jarrett Stoll and Jack Johnson were parked in front of the net but unable to find the puck before it was placed in the back of the net.

The second Minnesota goal, which came a minute and a half into the second period, could serve as a microcosm for the whole game. A scramble in front of the net had Quick sliding out of position while three Kings struggled to move the puck from the crease before Darroll Powe deposited the loose rubber into the goal.

The Wild would score two more times to seal the game and deal Los Angeles their fifth loss in seven games.

Anze Kopitar found himself on the receiving end of a nasty hit from Kyle Brodziak, who received a five-minute boarding major as well as a game misconduct. It took Kopitar a little while to get on his feet and off the ice, but the gritty forward did return later in the game.

On a good note, Kings defenseman Alec Martinez returned to the team after missing the last 10 games with an upper-body injury. Drew Doughty also celebrated his twenty-second birthday, although I doubt any cake was served after this game.  

Los Angeles will play one more home game Saturday versus Dallas before boarding the plane and heading east for all of next week. The Stars come into town losers of their last two, but certainly poised to stave off their divisional foe.