Kings Come Up Empty on Milestone Day
On March 23, 1994, Wayne Gretzky scored his 802nd goal surpassing Gordie Howe's NHL record. The goal was scored against Kirk McLean and the Vancouver Canucks. So what better way to commemorate the occasion and rebound from a bad loss to the Dallas Stars all at once than to play the Canucks?
Well the Kings did neither. Not only did they lose the game 1-0, there was barely a mention of the milestone during the game. It was so subdued even I didn't catch it, although I did notice part of a segment dedicated to it during the second intermission on the television broadcast.
It didn't look like the normal "pajama parties" that seem to plague the Kings during these weekend matinee games, but that didn't matter. In the middle of the first period the defense was caught flat-footed. Mason Raymond took advantage on the clear breakaway and beat Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick on a one-time through the five-hole. That was all the Canucks needed with Cory Schneider saving all 20 shots he saw from the Kings.
"We chased the game a little more than we should," Jarret Stoll said. "I don't know if we out-chanced them or not, it was pretty close, but I wouldn't say we played bad. We just didn't find a way to win the game."
The Kings had three power play opportunities but could only muster one shot on goal during those six minutes. The nadir was in the second period after Henrik Sedin was called for hooking Justin Williams. The Canucks had a better scoring chance than the Kings did during that power play which led to a chorus of boos from the portion of the sold-out crowd of 18,118 that were Kings fans.
"The bottom line is we've got to better to score goals," Stoll added.
This was not a problem for the Kings last couple of weeks when four or five goals would be scored a night.
"We've gone through spurts this year when we've scored a lot of goals," captain Dustin Brown said. "It was just a result of getting the puck to the net with bodies at the same time."
These two games have taken a bit of a toll against the Kings. After Thursday's loss to Dallas, head coach Darryl Sutter called out the first line of Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams and Brown. "They have struggled for two or three games that line," Sutter told reporters. He softened his stance on Friday telling reporters he probably shoulders some of the blame for overplaying that line.
Perhaps the most interesting quote after the game came from Kopitar. When asked about what the team needed to do on the road against the NHL-best Chicago Blackhawks on Monday, Kopitar gave the standard we-need-to-get-pucks-and-bodies-to-the-net response. Then the frustration of the last two games reared its ugly head.
"The way things are going [the puck] is going to go off someone's skate or someone's ass, and then the floodgates open," Kopitar said in a reference to Jaromir Jagr's goal Thursday night that went off Drew Doughty's skate to break open the scoring in the third period.
The disappointment hasn't been isolated to the Kings. The week saw the Lakers lose to cellar dwellers Phoenix Suns and Washington Wizards. The Clippers lost big at Sacramento before coming back against the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday. And UCLA stunk it up in the Tournament so badly against 11-seed Minnesota, they will reportedly fire head coach Ben Howland tomorrow. UCLA countered the report by sending out a statement denying that they have fired Howland today.
At least the Clippers did their part in clearing out the stench from STAPLES Center. They withstood the Brooklyn Nets hitting jumpers and pulled out a 101-95 win.