Missed opportunities lead to Kings overtime loss to Flames
The Los Angeles Kings look so good until they make one mistake. And sometimes one is all it takes.
Monday night at the Staples Center, the Kings did almost everything right. They dominated the puck possession game and bullied the Calgary Flames with their physicality, holding them scoreless until the final seven minutes. The Kings executed at a high level against a team they’ve battled on the ice three times this season and may be battling for a while in the standings.
The Kings had finally broken through with a goal from Matt Greene in the third, but only three and a half minutes later that one mistake – a turnover by Alec Martinez in the neutral zone – ended up in the back of the net. The game went into overtime where Dennis Wideman got a lucky bounce off the inside off the crossbar. The flukey shot was reviewed and the Flames walked away with the 2-1 win.
"I don’t know if it’s frustration, I don’t even know what you want to call it," said Kings captain Dustin Brown. "We had our opportunities. Our power play needs to be better. Not that it needs to win us games but it has to get us more momentum and it didn’t do that tonight. It lets them hang around."
But that one mistake, while costly, wasn’t the deciding factor. What really decided the game was the opportunities that the Kings failed to cash in on. And it wasn’t just against Calgary – it’s been a theme throughout their dismal seven-game home stand.
Coming in, the Kings were the better power play team, ranked 11th, and the Flames the weaker penalty kill team, ranked 27th. But those numbers saw some deflation and inflation. The Flames routinely hit the box but the Kings whiffed on each chance, taking their own penalties while on the power play a few times and ultimately going 0-for-4 with the extra-man advantage.
L.A. had far more chances. Joni Ortio wasn’t exactly a magician in the net, but he was solid enough to stop 33 shots.
Rocket man pic.twitter.com/m9Yxq2bzDK
— LA Kings (@LAKings) January 20, 2015
"He played well for them," Brown said. "But if we’re only scoring one goal a game, we can do things better."
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick faced only 23 shots, bolstered by a defense that got shutdown defenseman Robyn Regehr back.
"I felt that both goalies came up big, but Joni obviously was the busiest one," said Flames’ coach Bob Hartley. "He was rock solid the first period and gave us a huge save and gave us a chance."
Ortio and the Flames took that chance. The Kings are continuing to play a solid game but aren’t making the necessary changes to play at an even higher level.
Yet again, the Kings let an opponent in late. They did it in their last game too. And their free hockey woes continued: In overtime, the L.A. is only 2-12 this season.
Biggggg Rigggggg pic.twitter.com/8rLgwuHLfK
— LA Kings (@LAKings) January 20, 2015
"We played a decent game but we didn’t win and when that happens, you still have to make adjustments," Regehr said. "You have to make improvements and we have to find those and execute those especially against a team that is in our own division and we are fighting for a playoff spot with."
It was a battle for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, but lucky for the Kings, the season doesn’t end tomorrow. However, they’ve now dropped to fifth place in the Pacific Divison with 52 points. The team that prides themselves on making their barn a tough place to play earned only six out of a possible 14 points on this home stand, winning only once
"That’s a big point," said Kings coach Darryl Sutter. "And at the end of the day that’s how you have to look at."
But his captain doesn’t see it that way.
"We need two points right now. The fact of the matter is that we needs points, especially against a team like that. Doesn’t matter how good we’re playing or how bad we’re playing, we need to find a way to win games."