L.A. Kings woes in Buffalo continue in shutout loss to the struggling Sabres

How’s this for a head-scratcher: the Kings, winners of two Stanley Cup championships in three seasons, are still an absolute bust in Buffalo. The Sabres’ 1-0 victory Tuesday over the Kings gave them a 12-1-1 record in upstate New York, dating to a 2-0 victory for Buffalo on Dec. 17, 1993. The Sabres have outscored the Kings by a stunning 59-21 margin on home ice during that stretch. The Kings’ last victory in Buffalo was a 4-1 decision Feb. 21, 2003. The Kings have lost six in a row since then and have been outscored 31-8. Granted the Sabres were pretty good during part of that stretch, but that’s a remarkable streak of futility for the Kings.

Thanks to the Sabres’ media relations department for the facts and figures.

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L.A. Kings hit road and then the road hits back … and not for the first time

The Kings fell to 3-5-4 away from Staples Center after a 1-0 loss Tuesday to the Buffalo Sabres, the first game on a five-game trip. Last season, Drew Doughty, Jonathan Quick, Anze Kopitar and the rest of the Kings were the kings of the road during the playoffs. They won Game 7s in San Jose, Anaheim and Chicago en route to their second Stanley Cup championship in three years.

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L.A. Kings sign defenseman Alec Martinez to six-year contract extension

Kings defenseman Alec Martinez signed a six-year contract extension Wednesday. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)

Kings defenseman Alec Martinez signed a six-year contract extension Wednesday. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)

Defenseman Alec Martinez came through for the Kings with two enormous goals to help them hoist the Stanley Cup last spring. The Kings then came through for Martinez in a big way with a six-season, $24-million contract extension Wednesday.

It’s another in a series of long-term deals given by Kings general manager Dean Lombardi, who also has locked up forward Marian Gaborik (seven years, $34 million) and defenseman Matt Greene (four years, $10 million) with new extended contracts.

In addition, Martinez becomes the fifth player to be signed through at least the 2020-21 season, joining Gaborik, team captain Dustin Brown, forward Jeff Carter and goaltender Jonathan Quick. Two others, Jake Muzzin and Mike Richards, are signed through 2019-20.

Martinez, 27, has played in 221 regular-season games for the Kings and 59 more in the playoffs. He scored series-winning goals in overtime in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against New York Rangers and in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Overall, the Rochester Hill, Mich., native has 25 goals and 62 points in his career.

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Three things about the L.A. Kings wild and crazy shootout loss to the Ducks

Here are the first few paragraphs of my recap:

It was fast and frantic and full of unpredictable twists and turns. The Ducks and Kings rocketed around the Honda Center ice Wednesday in their first Freeway Series game of the season. No play could be taken for granted, and certainly no lead was safe.

When it was done, the Ducks took a 6-5 shootout victory from the Kings in front of a raucous sellout crowd of 17,245 in a game that felt more like it should have been played in the glare of the playoffs rather than in the uncertain weeks of the fall.

Jakob Silfverberg and Ryan Kesler scored in the shootout for the NHL-leading Ducks (11-3-3) and backup goaltender Jason LaBarbera stopped Anze Kopitar after Marian Gaborik scored and Jeff Carter misfired for the Kings (8-4-4).

Here are three more things about the Kings’ loss:

First, two-goal leads are usually money in the bank for Jonathan Quick and the Kings. Not Wednesday. The Kings led by scores of 3-1 and 5-3, but couldn’t prevent the Ducks from rallying to force the game to overtime and then a shootout. Said defenseman Drew Doughty: “We always feel good with the lead. We have ‘Quickie’ back there. We have, I think, one of the best defense corps in the whole league and all of our forwards play pretty good ‘D’ as well. Whenever we have that two goal lead we definitely feel secure.”

Second, Quick was superb in goal for the Kings. That’s never a surprise anymore, but he was under siege for most of the night, facing 49 shots from the Ducks. Quick needed to make several jaw-dropping saves just to keep the Kings in front in the early going, and then again in the middle of the game. The Ducks poured on the pressure late and there was no chance Quick could work miracles. He needed more help than he got from his teammates.

Third, the Ducks beat the Kings at their own (winning) game. The Ducks possessed the puck for extended stretches and controlled the play. They never led during regulation play or overtime, but they played the right way. You know, the way the Kings play. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. The Ducks spent the offseason remaking their roster in order to be more like the Kings, who won Stanley Cup championships in two of the last three seasons. The question is how do the Kings counter the Ducks’ moves? Saturday’s rematch at Staples Center should be fun. Again.

 

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Three things about the L.A. Kings victory over the Sabres

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick blanked the Sabres on Thursday for his team-record 33rd career shutout. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick blanked the Sabres on Thursday for his team-record 33rd career shutout. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht/Los Angeles Daily News)

Here are the first few paragraphs of Thursday’s game story:

The Kings had just enough Thursday. The defending Stanley Cup champions had 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goaltenders on their roster when they faced off against the Buffalo Sabres at Staples Center, and not one healthy or eligible body more.

There simply was no margin for error for the Kings in their first game since defenseman Slava Voynov was arrested by Redondo Beach police on charges of domestic violence and suspended indefinitely with pay by the NHL on Monday morning.

Under normal circumstances, the mere presence of the struggling Sabres would have eased the Kings’ minds and made for an easy night. But an early goal and a record-setting goaltending performance also propelled the Kings to a 2-0 victory, their fifth in a row.

Here are three more things about the Kings’ latest victory:

First, Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar scored power-play goals and the Kings clicked on two of three chances with the man-advantage overall. It’s a start for a power play that was 2 for 20 (10 percent) and ranked 25th in the 30-team NHL going into the game. The Kings must be better in their special teams play if they are to defend their Stanley Cup championship. It’s really that simple.

Second, Jonathan Quick stopped 29 shots and recorded his Kings-record 33rd shutout of his career, one more than the mark he shared since Oct. 16 with Rogie Vachon. “It really is nothing new,” Kopitar said of Quick’s play in goal. “He’s just solid back there. We try to help him out as much as we can. When breakdowns do happen, he’s back there. He’s saved our butts a bunch of times already. I’m sure he’s going to continue to do it.”

Third, the Kings welcomed defenseman Jake Muzzin to their lineup after he sat out the first six games of the season because of an upper-body injury. They also played for the first time since defenseman Slava Voynov was arrested on domestic violence charges and suspended Monday by the NHL, which turned out to be less of a distraction for the team than anyone might have imagined. The Kings are strong that way. Nothing seems to trouble them. Let’s see how it plays out long-term.

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Final: Kings 2, Wild 1

Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson scored for the Kings and Jonathan Quick made xx saves in a 2-1 victory Sunday afternoon over the Minnesota Wild at Staples Center. The Kings won their second in a row when getting widely outshot. The Wild outshot the Kings 41-16, after the St. Louis Blues outshot them 43-18 on Thursday. Matt Cooke scored the Wild’s only goal, cutting the Kings’ lead to 2-1 in the third period.

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Three things to watch in the Kings-Wild game this afternoon

First, the Kings power play clicked only once in 18 chances over five games to start the season for a paltry 5.6 percent success rate that ranked them 25th among the NHL’s 30 teams. That’s not very good, especially when you look at their company at the bottom of the rankings. The Colorado Avalanche were 26th (4.6 percent) followed by the New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets (0.0 percent). Shudder. That’s not select company, by any means.

Second, the Kings won their third consecutive game with a 1-0 shootout victory Thursday over the St. Louis Blues, after starting the season with losses to the San Jose Sharks and the Arizona Coyotes. Goaltender Jonathan Quick recorded his 32nd career shutout, tying him with Rogie Vachon for the franchise record. Quick also improved to 37-22 in shootouts, having stopped all but 61 of 209 shots. Jeff Carter had his three-game points streak (three goals, two assists) stopped Thursday, but scored the only goal in the shootout.

Third, Minnesota goalie Darcy Kuemper, who gave up his first goals of the season in a 2-1 loss Friday to the Ducks after consecutive shutouts of the Colorado Avalanche, won’t play today. Niklas Backstrom is scheduled to start for the Wild (2-1-0). Jason Zucker, a Newport Beach native, scored Minnesota’s lone goal Friday.

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