Dustin Brown says L.A. Kings happy to take ‘step in the right direction’

The Kings' effort and energy, as evidenced by Kyle Clifford's scoring chance, were improved in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Ducks. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

The Kings’ effort and energy, as evidenced by Kyle Clifford’s scoring chance, were improved in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Ducks. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

 

Tomorrow’s notebook lead today …

The Kings were far from flawless during their 3-2 shootout loss Saturday to the NHL-leading Ducks at Staples Center, but a return to a more disciplined and well-ordered game was “a step in the right direction,” captain Dustin Brown said Sunday.

Brown called the shootout a “crap shoot,” a reference to the Kings’ 1-7 record this season in the skills contest. Kings shooters are a woeful 2 for 28 in eight shootouts, which includes misfires from Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik on Saturday against the Ducks’ Frederik Andersen.

Jakob Silfverberg scored the only goal in the shootout and the Ducks (30-10-6) increased their lead over the Kings (20-14-11) in the Pacific Division to 15 points. Alec Martinez and Kopitar scored in regulation for the Kings. Ryan Getzlaf and Sami Vatanen scored for the Ducks.

The bottom line in a bottom line game is that the Kings’ play was dramatically improved over recent games, including a dreary 5-3 loss Wednesday to the lackluster New Jersey Devils. The Kings were far better defensively and in goal Saturday against the Ducks.

The Kings squandered leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but they didn’t give up goals in bunches, as they did against the Devils, who scored three times in 68 seconds in the second period. The Kings played the Ducks even in special teams, with each team clicking once on the power play.

However, the Kings were outshot 31-28 by the Ducks, the first time they’ve been outshot since Nov. 29, a remarkable run that hasn’t translated into victories. The Kings have lost two in a row and are 3-3-4 in their last 10 games going into Monday night’s home contest against the Calgary Flames.

The Kings awoke Sunday in ninth place in the Western Conference, one spot behind the Flames. Only the top eight teams in each conference advance to the playoffs, and in order to defend their Stanley Cup championship, the Kings must finish in the top eight.

“We played a really good hockey game, but we didn’t close it out coming into the third period,” Gaborik said Saturday after Vatanen, a defenseman, scored a tying power-play goal in the third. “The shootout has been an issue for the whole year.

“The points are getting away from us in the shootout, so we just need to find a way to put some goals in. We’ve been practicing a bit, but we just have to get it done. 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.”

 

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L.A. Kings face Calgary Flames in a contest of Nick Shore versus Drew Shore

The Kings’ Nick Shore made his NHL debut Saturday, logging 10 minutes, 35 seconds of ice time in a 3-2 shootout loss to the Ducks. He was credited with one shot and said Sunday he felt at home in the Kings’ lineup after he was recalled from their American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., last week.

Nick, 22, could face his brother, Drew, if both are in their lineups Monday night when the Kings play host to the Flames at Staples Center. Drew Shore, 23, made his NHL debut for the Flames in Thursday’s victory over the Arizona Coyotes.

“I haven’t seen him play in a bit,” Nick Shore said after Sunday’s optional practice when asked for a scouting report on Drew. “Sometimes I catch his games. We have similarities. We see the game the same way. He plays a little more north-south than I do. It’s the same sort of thing. He likes being a good responsible player in all three (zones), and then, hopefully, the offense comes.”

 

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One more thing about the L.A. Kings shootout loss to the Ducks

The Kings fell to 1-7 in shootouts with a 3-2 loss Saturday to the Ducks at Staples Center, which helps to explain why they are scrambling to hold onto a playoff spot. Their shooters are a woeful 2 for 28 after Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik failed to score against the Ducks’ Frederik Andersen.

“We just can’t pick the right guys,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “I think we (picked) really well. Jeff, Kopi and Gabby. If you were betting on the game in shootouts, wouldn’t you choose Jeff, Kopi and Gabby?”

The Kings’ record of 20-14-11 left them in fifth place in the Pacific Division.

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Update: L.A. Kings backup goalie Martin Jones suffering from back spasms

Backup goaltender Martin Jones suffered from back spasms so severe he was unable to dress for the Kings’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Ducks on Saturday. J.F. Berube was summoned from the Kings’ American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., earlier in the day and he was Jonathan Quick’s backup. Jones’ ailment isn’t expected to sideline him for long, although his availability for Monday’s game against the Calgary Flames was not immediately certain.

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L.A. Kings recall J.F. Berube from minors, place Tyler Toffoli (mono) on IR

The headline says it all. What we don’t know at the moment of this typing is what precisely is wrong with backup goaltender Martin Jones, who didn’t participate in the Kings’ morning skate Saturday. Coach Darryl Sutter told reporters Jones was ill, but it’s believed Jones is injured. The Kings avoided making a public announcement by recalling J.F. Berube from Manchester (N.H.) of the American Hockey League and placing forward Tyler Toffoli (mono) on injured reserve. No mention was made of Jones in the team’s press release, which is their choice.

More later. Maybe.

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L.A. Kings asking fans to be in their seats by 6:30 p.m. on Saturday

The Kings’ celebration of Rob Blake’s playing career is set to begin at 6:30 p.m., Saturday and the team would like everyone seated at Staples Center when the show begins. Blake’s jersey will be retired in a ceremony scheduled to last for about an hour. Some 35 to 40 former players are expected to attend, although it wasn’t immediately certain whether Wayne Gretzky would be on hand. The Kings were efforting to get the Great One in the building. The opening faceoff for the Kings-Ducks game is set for 8:08 p.m., but we’ll believe it when it happens.

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Martin Jones earns another start in goal for the L.A. Kings

Martin Jones earned a second consecutive start in goal for the Kings after shutting out the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0 on Monday. He hadn’t started for a month, since a 6-2 loss Dec. 12 to the Montreal Canadiens, but was razor sharp against the Maple Leafs. His only other appearance was a relief stint after Kings coach Darryl Sutter pulled Jonathan Quick after three goals on nine shots Dec. 3 against the Nashville Predators. Jones gave up four goals in a 7-6 overtime loss to the Predators.

“He hadn’t played in a month, so I don’t know if he bounced back,” Sutter said of Jones. “We need both our goalies to win games. That’s all we’re doing. We want to give Quick a chance to get six or more days between games, and we need our other goalie to win games. It’s not bounce back. It’s either you win or you lose. If we had won the other night, then Quick would have played tonight.” Got it? Good.

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L.A. Kings statistical oddity for a Tuesday morning

The Kings haven’t been outshot in a game since Nov. 29, when the Chicago Blackhawks did it to them 25-20 during a 4-1 victory at Staples Center. They were tied in shots on net 25-25 during a 5-2 loss Dec. 16 to the St. Louis Blues. But otherwise they have outshot everyone since that game against the Blackhawks. Monday, they outshot the Toronto Maple Leafs 20-19 in a 2-0 victory.

“It still doesn’t add up for us because if you’re just going on analytics we’re right at the top,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “We should have more (wins). It doesn’t really add up. We’re going to have to get better at it because with the goals out of our lineup (Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, in particular), and a bit of inexperience at our back end, we still have to find a way to get better.”

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One more thing about the L.A. Kings victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs

The Kings got back to their grinding defensive style of play during a 2-0 victory Monday over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Staples Center. No more running-and-gunning for the Kings, who played the sort of style that carried them to Stanley Cup championships in 2012 and ’14 but was absent during a three-game losing streak.

“We are a physical team,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. “That’s how we wear other teams down. We get in on the forecheck. When they’re in our ‘D-zone’ we make it miserable for them to be down there. We did a better job of that tonight, but I think that we still have some room for improvement.”

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Darryl Sutter talks about replacing ill Toffoli and injured Pearson in L.A. Kings lineup

Kings coach Darryl Sutter was asked Monday morning how the team would fill the void created by the absence of young wingers Tyler Toffoli (mono) and Tanner Pearson (broken left ankle). He had a simple answer: “You don’t.”

Sutter also said: “They’re very important players on our team, not just numbers guys but a very big part of our puck possession game, our penalty-killing game, all that. You don’t replace those players. What you do is you put other guys in, guys who are either bitching about ice time or guys who you have to move out of position a little big or veterans who just have to give you a little bit more.”

Toffoli was diagnosed with mono Friday and Pearson was hurt Saturday.

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