Playing at home for the first time in three weeks, the Kings on Saturday did little to reward the 16th sellout crowd of what has been, to this point, a season of exceeded expectations.
Unable to get their power play going — and so vulnerable that they surrendered a short-handed goal to the Canadiens in the second period — the Kings fell to Montreal, 4-2, at Staples Center. Coupled with their loss Thursday at Nashville, the Kings have lost consecutive games in regulation for the first time since Jan. 9-11.
In winning the Canadiens vaulted into eighth in the East. The Kings remained fifth in the West but on tiebreakers: The Kings and Avalanche each have 80 points, but the Kings have more wins than Colorado, 38-37, and have played 64 games to Colorado’s 65.
“Just because we’re in right now doesn’t mean we’re in,” winger Ryan Smyth said. “We’ve got to play to catch the teams ahead of us instead of looking at the teams behind us.”
Fredrik Modin scored his first goal since the Kings acquired him from Columbus in a deadline-day deal, backhanding a slick pass from Michal Handzus past goaltender Jaroslav Halak at 7:12 of the third period. That cut Montreal’s lead to 3-2 and jolted the Kings out of a lethargy that had carried over from their weak second period, but Tomas Plekanec scored into an empty net with 1:11 left in the third period to clinch the victory for the Canadiens.
“We’re not going to find excuses for this, but we’ve got to get better. That’s the bottom line,” center Anze Kopitar said.
“It’s playoff time basically. Everybody is desperate to get into the playoffs. Everybody is desperate to get the best seed possible, whatever the case may be