The Kings rallied to tie the Buffalo Sabres, forcing Tuesday’s game to overtime and then a shootout before falling 3-2. Dwight King continued his fine season by scoring the tying goal. The Kings had two chances with the power play in overtime, but couldn’t score. Goaltender Jonathan Quick was forced from the game with an undisclosed injury late in OT and Ben Scrivens was pressed into a no-win situation. Here are three things about the Kings’ loss to the NHL’s last-place team.
1. That’s hockey. Strange things happen. The Kings did everything but win the game. They outshot the Sabres by 45-17. They controlled the game. They kept up the pressure. They simply couldn’t beat goalie Ryan Miller often enough to win the game. It happens more times than you might think during the average season. Besides, they did snag one point out of a shootout loss and that’s something.
2. Of greater concern than one loss to an overmatched opponent in November is the status of Quick. He made an awkward move on a Sabres rush late in OT and immediately hit the ice. He stayed there as he was checked out. Scrivens was summoned from the bench and Quick was aided by teammates as he skated to the bench and then to the dressing room. Quick is the Kings’ best player, no question about it. They have survived and thrived without forwards Jeff Carter (foot) and Jarret Stoll (upper body) and defenseman Matt Greene (undisclosed injury). Winning with Quick sidelined by an injury for more than a game or two would be more problematic. Scrivens is a fine goalie, but Quick is the best in hockey.
3. The Kings lost the special teams battle against the Sabres. They had two chances to win the game in OT with their power play and didn’t get it done. They also gave up the second of Cody Hodgson’s two goals while Buffalo was on the power play. In a tight game, which the Kings almost always seem to play, special teams mean the difference between winning and losing. When the Kings had a power-play for the last 32 seconds of OT, they spent too much time getting set up and looking for an opening. It was the wrong approach. What they should have done was fire away and chase the rebounds. Most teams don’t practice 4-on-3s, but the game plan is the same as a 5-on-4: create mismatches down low. The Kings tried for a pretty goal when they should have created an ugly one. Bottom line: the Kings were 0 for 5 on the PP on Tuesday and they’re 0 for 10 with the man-advantage in their last two games.