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Kings 4-3 Overtime Victory over Ottawa an Improvement?

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I was told the Kings played much better in their 4-3 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators.

I had missed the first three games of the season busy with the Dodgers and everything that entailed. The only bit of Kings hockey was this lovely piece of video from the home opener on Monday that was show all over the continent:

So sure. A 4-3 victory was better than that. The problem is, the Kings still looked pretty bad despite the win. The biggest problem for the Kings was their 5-on-5 play.

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Coming into the game the Kings have been outscored 6-2 in a 5-on-5 situation. Unless the Kings find a way to play the majority of the game on a power play, this could pose a problem.

"It's been a trend this year early on," Dustin Brown said. "We've got to regroup and come out with more energy."

Energy or no, the forecheck that allowed them to raise the Stanley Cup in 2012 was absent. Most of the time was spent in their own zone, and when they did venture into the Senators zone they were being pushed around.

The Kings were fortunate that the Senators melted down in the first period. Without their longtime captain Daniel Alfredsson who defected to Detroit during the offseason and their current captain Jason Spezza who was out with a sore groin, they looked rudderless.

Twice in the first period the Kings had a 5-on-3 advantage, and twice they scored just after the first penalty expired: Jeff Carter at 12:31 and Dustin Brown at 17:55. The lone even-strength goal for the Kings came as Brown got out of the penalty box and the puck found its way to him way behind the play. It was an easy breakout, and Brown gave the Kings the early 1-0 lead.

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A 3-0 lead after the first period, the Senators kept chopping the lead. A Jean-Gabriel Pageau goal early in the second. A Bobby Ryan power play goal early in the third. A Milan Michalek goal to tie the game late in the third.

Just to tell you how bad things were, when the McFlurry Minute was announced in the final minute of the second period, the soldout STAPLES Center crowd of 18,118 remained just a notch over library volume. Even Kings fan were resigned to reality.

Perhaps it being early in the season. Perhaps they see something I don't. Both Jeff Carter and head coach Darryl Sutter were glad to see the direction the team was heading.

"There's always room to improve, but I thought we took a step in the right direction tonight," Carter said who scored the game-winning power play goal 28 seconds into the overtime period.

Sutter seemed concerned about only one thing. "I'm not too caught up in that," Sutter said about the five-on-five worries. "We scored enough goals to win."

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The season is still young, only four games in. Naturally there is no need to panic. They only need to look a few miles up the road to see the stunning turnaround the Dodgers performed this season.

The Kings get to hone their craft on the road for four games on an East Coast swing before coming back home next Saturday hosting the Dallas Stars.