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Road Woes Linger as Kings Return Home
After a disastrous road trip that ended in the calamity in Montreal, the Kings looked to bounce back at STAPLES Center against the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks. Instead their road woes continued at home as they did their impression of lost guppies in their 2-1 loss to the Hawks.
“We were a little sloppy tonight,” defenseman Rob Scuderi said. That was an understatement as they gave the puck away 22 times to Chicago’s nine.
“I didn’t like our game tonight,” head coach Terry Murray said. “I thought we were sporadic. There were times in the game we were really good, but it’s a 60-minute game.”
And they did play well for the first period-and-a-half getting good scoring chances and playing stout defense limiting Chicago to one-chance possessions. In the second period the Kings had two good shifts attacking the Hawks zone which culminated in Jack Johnson’s shot getting blocked by Patrick Kane.
But then Patrick Sharp got the rebound and started a 2-on-1 breakaway chance for Chicago with Kane that culminated with Sharp beating Kings goalie Jonathan Quick 10:36 in the second period.
“That was bad luck,” Murray said. “That was unbelievable. That’s a 2-on-1 for us and they have a 2-on-1 going the other way.”
While Murray didn’t think they went into guppy mode, “we didn’t elevate [our play] to a high enough either to say let’s move on and get something going the other way.”
But they certainly started to look lost with even Kings enforcer Kevin Westgarth getting severely outmatched in a fight with John Scott a minute after Sharp’s goal leaving Westgarth bloodied, smiling and off to the locker room to get cleaned up.
The Hawks got a two-goal advantage when Tomas Kopecky from the right boards behind the Kings net shot the puck to the middle of the net for the charging Kane to put it through at 1:06 in the third period.
The Kings got to within one goal on Anze Kopitar’s 5-on-3 goal from a shot down the middle from the blue line.
Although the Kings did try to rally back in the final five minutes, the bottom line was the Kings only got off 22 shots.
“We need to get more pucks to the net,” Murray said. “We’re not a high shot team. We’ve got to generate more chances just through that shot mentality from everybody.”
Murray hoped to achieve this by moving Dustin Brown from his natural right wing position to left while bringing up Wayne Simmonds on the right wing to accompany Anze Kopitar at center on the top line.
“I thought we had a couple of good shifts and a couple of misreads,” Kopitar said. “But that’s what happens when a line gets put together.”
The unifying theme from the players was that they need to work harder.
“We know we have a good team,” Scuderi said. “We just need to get back to that.”
Jonathan Quick saved 21 shots in the loss while Hawks goalie Corey Crawford also saved 21 shots for the win.
And a final note: the Kings remain the lone team in the NHL to not have given up a power-play goal at home killing all three penalties tonight and all 38 this season.