Kings lose seventh shootout of the season in loss to Ducks

Tie games have become a nightmare in Los Angeles.

Two wins and 10 losses in overtime. Even worse, one win and seven losses in shootouts. Maybe it’s too tough to play 82 games like they’re all Game 7. 

On a night where emotion was nearly enough to carry the Kings to a big, Pacific Division win over their Freeway Faceoff rivals from Anaheim, they fell short in the shootout. Somehow, free hockey has been the undoing of a team that knows exactly what it’s like to play their best in the most difficult of situations. 

The Kings walked away with a point in Saturday night’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks, but they also walked away facing a legitimate problem. The three shooters they sent up there – Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik – typically strike fear into opposing goalies in most any situation. But none are getting anything past goaltenders past the third period.

"Jeff, Kopi and Gabi," said Kings coach Darryl Sutter. "If you were betting on the game if there was a shootout, would you pick Jeff, Kopi and Gabi?"

Well, not right now. Right now, the shootout struggle is real. 

Gaborik and Carter have scored the only two shootout goals for the Kings this season. Those three and Tyler Toffoli, who is currently on the Injured Reserve with mono, are the only four shooters who have even had multiple attempts. Sutter has used half his bench in an effort to spark something, much to no avail.

"Obviously the shootout has been an issue for the whole year," Gaborik said. "The points are getting away from us in the shootout, so we just need to find a way to put some goals in."

The one point earned Saturday night dropped the Kings from a playoff spot. Should they beat Calgary on Monday night, they’re back in the Wild Card lead. But should it go into a shootout? It’s anyone’s guess, but all it takes is one to turn things around.

"We’ve been practicing a bit, but we just have to get it done," Gaborik said. "We have enough talent for the guys to score goals. We just need to get the one win and the confidence level will go up and we just need to grind away."

There is, however, a simple solution, and the Kings know it: Win it in regulation. They’ve been victims of slow starts, late collapses and everything else in between. The defensive efforts haven’t always been there this season. 

But you couldn’t fault the defense in this game. A team that boasts four solid scoring lines was held to only two goals in regulation. Jonathan Quick stopped 29 of the 31 shots he faced and Sutter felt his goalie was the best player on the ice. 

Before the game, the Kings organization retired Rob Blake’s number. The team was present throughout the entire ceremony and current captain Dustin Brown was choked up while giving a speech.

But the Ducks, only six days removed from a shootout win that followed the retirement of Teemu Selanne’s number, know all about those ceremonies and they were ready to combat that emotion.

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"We came out hot against Winnpeg when we played them because we wanted to win for Teemu," said Anaheim winger Jakob Silfverberg. "We know what kind of emotions that they were going through and that they were going to come out hot."

The Kings battled for Blake, taking a lead into the third period. But the emotions only carried them so far, and they lost yet another battle in the shootout.

"We played a pretty good hockey game," Gaborik said. "But we need to close it out coming into the third period."