No Third Period Magic for Kings
After scoring eight goals in the two third periods this week, the magic finally wore off for the Kings. Instead it was the worst period for the Kings as they gave up three goals in the Dallas Stars 5-2 victory.
"We couldn't handle the [Jamie] Benn line," head coach Darryl Sutter said. When asked what was missing in that third period he answered, "Goalie, forwards, defense."
It wasn't pretty. After being fairly disciplined throughout the first two periods, the Kings started missing their defensive assignments as Dallas started attacking from the back side of plays. Brendan Morrow made the Kings pay with the game-winning goal early in the third to give the Stars the 3-2 lead.
"There's no excuse for it," Sutter said.
And just to put the cherry on top, the geriatric Jaromir Jagr scored his second goal of the game in the same manner. After the game Jagr said he was ready to go for another 60 minutes.
"My body never gets tired," Jagr said. "The more I play, the fresher I get."
Then he launched into his standup routine. "I'd feel better if I played one more game right now. This was just a warmup."
At the age of 41 Jagr now has 674 career NHL goals, five more than Anaheim Ducks 42-year old forward Teemu Selanne.
Antoine Roussel added an empty-netter at the end of the game to make no doubt of the Kings streak of six home wins broken.
"We made some errors and they capitalized," Dustin Brown said.
That really was the game in a nutshell. Sutter took things on step further.
"I think we didn't get good enough goaltending tonight," Sutter said. "We need to raise the save percentage. It's a stat that tells the truth."
With four goals allowed on 21 shots Jonathan Quick's save percentage dropped to .895, among the bottom of the league.
"When you don't stop the pucks, they go in the net," Quick said.
"If you're giving up four goals a game you can't win," Sutter said.
The third period scoring on Monday and Tuesday helped mask some of the problems the Kings have this season. With Willie Mitchell and Matt Greene out for significant chunks of the season, the defensive core has taken a hit. Also Quick is not the Vezina-caliber player he had been the past couple of seasons.
Sure Jeff Carter has elevated the Kings scoring — he scored another goal that gave the Kings lead for a few minutes in the second period. He has now scored 12 goals in the last 12 games.
But this incarnation of the Kings has never been known as an offensive juggernaut, yet they need to be in order to cover up some of the youth on the blue line.
And Sutter wouldn't allow having to play three games in four nights as an excuse. "I felt good. I'm almost 55, and I felt awesome today."
As all of the panic starts to set in, something Jarret Stoll told me during the morning skate stuck with me. When asked about why the third periods were happening, he laid it out.
"Not getting too down, not getting to carried away with the score, the situation, the period, where we are in the game," Stoll started. "Just sticking with our game plan and knowing over time it will work out. We will get our chances. It's just a matter if we capitalize on them or not. That will be the difference in the game.
"Within the dressing room, on the bench, we were positive. We weren't down, we weren't getting negative. Guys weren't off page, straying away from the system. Everybody was on the same page there, and we just kept pushing. Eventually they had some breakdowns and we capitalized."
This was a night the Kings didn't capitalize. So perhaps it's about mere luck, being able to make the most of the chances that are presented.
What will be interesting to see is how the Kings rebound on Saturday against the Calgary Flames, a team that has always given the Kings a hard time. Let's see how the positivity works.