Martin St. Louis scored two goals and skated circles around the flat-footed Kings during a 5-1 rout by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday. Slava Voynov scored the Kings’ only goal, which cut the Tampa Bay lead to 3-1 for an all-too-brief moment in the third period. Tampa Bay’s speed and skill was evident from the start, and the Kings couldn’t catch up. Here are three impressions about the end of the Kings’ three-game winning streak:
1. The Kings aren’t built for speed, but they looked especially slow when compared to the Lightning. The Kings were down a goal only seconds into the game and they seemed to be skating a step behind the Lightning all night. Tampa Bay was the first team the Kings have faced that likes to play a run-and-gun style, but the Lightning won’t be the last. The Ducks, the Edmonton Oilers and the San Jose Sharks, among Pacific Division foes, play similar up-tempo styles. So, the Kings are going to have to learn how to play against faster teams. They failed at it miserably on Tuesday.
2. Coach Darryl Sutter’s moves mystify me sometimes. OK, most of the time. He shuffled his lines to start Tuesday’s game, one contest after the Kings utterly dominated the Florida Panthers in a 3-0 victory Sunday. Sutter started with Jeff Carter playing with Anze Kopitar. Why? Who knows. He’s trying to get something (anything) from his centers, but I’m not sure that was the move to make. Of course, it didn’t matter once the Kings fell behind 2-0 in the first period. They were out of sync and out of luck.
3. The Kings coach also yanked Jonathan Quick after Tampa Bay increased its lead to 3-0 late in the second period. Ben Scrivens replaced Quick and wasn’t able to slow down the Lightning either. Sutter might have made the move to spare Quick more abuse. Or he might have done it to light a spark under the team. It didn’t really work under either scenario. It just seemed to be a quick hook (no pun intended). We’ll see who gets the start when the Kings reach Nashville for the fourth and final game on their trip.