Pregame reading: Los Angeles Kings vs. Vancouver Canucks

KINGS AT CANUCKS

Faceoff: 7 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM

The Kings (32-21-13) edged closer to a playoff spot with a 5-2 victory Tuesday over the Colorado Avalanche in the first game of a two-game trip. They were tied with Calgary for third place in the Pacific Division going into the Flames’ home game Wednesday against the Ducks. But the Flames led the Kings in the tiebreaking category of victories in regulation play or overtime, 32-30. The Kings also were only one point behind the Winnipeg Jets in the race for the second of two wild-card spots. The Jets only have 27 wins in regulation or OT, however. Justin Williams tied his career high with three assists in the Kings’ win Monday. Andrej Sekera recorded his first point, an assist, since the Kings acquired him last month. The second-place Canucks are 38-24-4 after a 2-1 victory Monday over the Ducks.

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Scoring changes aplenty from L.A. Kings’ win over Colorado Avalanche

Looks like Tuesday was a rough night in Denver for the retired gentleman, as Kings coach Darryl Sutter once called the folks who keep track of the statistics for the NHL at the league’s games, There were a couple of significant scoring chances in the Kings’ 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

The Kings’ first goal now reads: Marian Gaborik from Brayden McNabb and Justin Williams at 7:47 of the first period. So, take away an assist to Dustin Brown and add one for Williams, who ended up with three for the game.

The Kings’ third goal now reads: Kyle Clifford from Justin Williams and Andrej Sekera at 14:25 of the first period. So, take away a goal for McNabb and add an assist for Sekera, his first point since the Kings acquired him last month.

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Justin Williams says one referee’s quick whistle didn’t decide L.A. Kings loss to Senators

Justin Williams wasn’t convinced a quick whistle that wiped out his potential second-period goal was what cost the Kings in a 1-0 loss Thursday to the Ottawa Senators. It might have made things different, but it wasn’t what turned the game in the Senators’ favor and, ultimately, ended the Kings’ eight-game winning streak.

“It could have (changed the complexion of the game),” Williams said. “But you don’t win or lose the game on one call. You win it with the body of work in the game. It wasn’t good enough. We let them hang around. You only get one pass at them.”

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Justin Williams talks about the L.A. Kings ‘predicament’ and other stuff

The Kings (23-18-12, 10th in the Western Conference standings) aren’t out of playoff contention by any measure, but they are aware of their present state. They also know they must call again on the remarkable resiliency they have displayed in the last few seasons in order to make up for their lost ground.

“We’ve put ourselves in quite the predicament here with where we are in the standings,” Kings forward Justin Williams said after Wednesday’s practice. “But resilience and being in tough situations all helps you at this time of year. It’s a grind to the playoffs and there’s always someone gunning for your spot. The hardest part is getting in, and we’re going to do that.”

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Pregame reading: Los Angeles Kings at Columbus Blue Jackets

Kings defenseman Alec Martinez. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)

Kings defenseman Alec Martinez. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)

KINGS AT BLUE JACKETS

Faceoff: 4 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM

Defenseman Alec Martinez is said to be day-to-day because of concussion-like symptoms after he took a hard hit Saturday. The Kings ended a three-game losing streak with a 4-2 victory Saturday over the then-Eastern Conference-leading Tampa Bay Lightning, the fourth stop on their five-game trip. Martinez was injured in the first period. A victory today over the Blue Jackets would enable them to salvage their trip and give them back-to-back road wins for the first time since defeating the Minnesota Wild on Nov. 26 and then the Phoenix Coyotes on Dec. 4. The Kings are 22-18-12 overall, but 6-12-6 on the road after ending a four-game losing streak away from Staples Center on Saturday. Only the lowly Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers, with five apiece, had fewer road victories at the start of business Sunday. Defenseman Drew Doughty scored his first goal in 14 games Saturday. Justin Williams scored twice against the Lightning, ending a seven-game drought without a point. The Blue Jackets are 23-25-3, and will welcome Marian Gaborik back to Columbus for the first time since trading him to the Kings last March.

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Three things about the L.A. Kings lackluster loss to the Dallas Stars

Here are the top few paragraphs from my game story:

How low can you go? For the Kings, a letdown Thursday against the Dallas Stars in the cavernous confines of Staples Center was probably inevitable after Wednesday’s 65-minute test of skills and wills against the Ducks at the raucous Honda Center.

The answer, at least at the start of the Kings’ 2-0 loss to the Stars, was subterranean. The Kings played a game so dull and devoid of efficiency and execution that it could have put a pot of coffee to sleep. It appeared the Kings left their skates in Orange County.

“It simply wasn’t good enough,” Kings right wing Justin Williams said. “We chased the game tonight. We were a step behind, a second slow. All that stuff. When you’re a second slow, they’re able to break out of the zone. We had no sustained pressure.”

Here are three things about the Kings’ second straight defeat:

First, Williams was right on all counts. The Kings weren’t good enough. Blame it on the weather, with the rain putting a damper on the evening. Blame it on the Ducks, who extended the Kings the night before. Blame it on the Kings’ injuries and a suspension to defenseman Slava Voynov. Blame it on the Stars, too. The Kings haven’t played very well to start the season. It’s that simple.

Second, the Kings are a sub-.500 team at the moment. They are 8-5-4, which looks good only until you realize they are actually 8-9. That’s not a good sign as they head toward the 20-game mark, which is usually when we find out what teams are truly made of. Big trades can happen and players can suddenly find an extra gear later in the season. But, for the most part, we know what kind of team you’re going to be after roughly 20 games of the season. This means you, Kings.

Third, Kings coach Darryl Sutter benched budding young stars Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli for most of the final two periods of Wednesday’s loss to the Ducks. They played a more familiar role in Thursday’s loss to the Stars, but neither was especially effective. That’s another cause for concern for the Kings, who relied so heavily on them and Jeff Carter for offense to start the season. Where are the goals going to come from if That 70s Line doesn’t score? Well, that’s the big question.

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Three things about the L.A. Kings shootout loss to the Islanders

Kings forward Dwight King, left, scored the only goal in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Islanders. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Kings forward Dwight King, left, scored the only goal in a 2-1 shootout loss to the Islanders. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

 

Dwight King scored the KIngs’ only goal during a 2-1 shootout loss to the New York Islanders on Thursday at Staples Center. Brock Nelson countered for the Islanders, who also got shootout goals from Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen. Jonathan Quick robbed former Kings defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky from point-blank range after an excellent cross-ice pass from another ex-King, Thomas Hickey, in overtime.

Here are three things that stood out about Thursday’s defeat:

First, the Kings sorely missed winger Justin Williams, who couldn’t play after suffering an eye injury during their victory Tuesday over the Dallas Stars. Williams’ place on the Kings’ top line with Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik was taken by Jordan Nolan, a grinder who works his tail off but doesn’t have the scoring touch. The Kings couldn’t say when Williams might be back in the lineup. They hoped they would have to play without him for only one game. With goals at a premium, the Kings need all the offensive help they can get at this point in the season.

Second, Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin said it best when asked how the Kings can generate more scoring chances and more goals. “Instead of trying to look for cute plays on the outside, putting it (the puck) on net and driving it,” he said. “We’ve got to do a better job of getting pucks to the net.” The Kings played far too often on the perimeter. When they did drive to the net, King scored on a pinball deflection off a centering pass from teammate Mike Richards only 3:49 into the game.

Third, it’s obvious by now that the Kings are skating with targets on their backs. It comes with the territory as defending Stanley Cup champions. You could see from the opening minutes that the Islanders were not content with a split of their games in Southern California. They got two points in Anaheim on Wednesday and were determined to secure two more Thursday in Los Angeles. The Kings should know by now the rest of the league wants to knock them off their lofty perch. Thursday’s game was simply more evidence of it.

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L.A. Kings forward Justin Williams won’t play against the Islanders

Kings forward Justin Williams won’t play Thursday night against the New York Islanders at Staples Center after suffering an eye injury in the closing moments of Tuesday’s victory over the Dallas Stars. The stick of Dallas’ Brendan Dillon clipped Williams, who left the ice immediately to seek treatment.

“Get better every day and when he’s ready to play, he’s ready to play,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said after the team’s morning skate Thursday in El Segundo.

Jordan Nolan skated in Williams’ spot on a line with Marian Gaborik and Anze Kopitar during the Kings’ morning skate. Sutter also reunited That 70s Line after splitting up Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli in Dallas.

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Stanley Cup moments (part 7: Justin Williams scores the winner in Game 1)

Justin Williams’ OT goal in Game 1 vs. New York, June 4. Only three days after Alec Martinez’s goal in overtime beat Chicago in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, Williams supplied the winner off a turnover only 4:36 into OT in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. “Mr. Game 7,” as Williams came to be known for his heroics in winner-take-all games, was instantly dubbed “Mr. Game 1,” by teammates and reporters after setting the Kings on course for a 1-0 series lead with another huge goal.

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Stanley Cup moments (part 2: Justin Williams scores the first of his big goals)

Justin Williams’ tiebreaking goal in Game 4 vs. San Jose, April 24: Williams would go on to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs. He made one big play after another during the postseason, and this was no exception. His goal late in the second period gave the Kings a 3-2 lead en route to a 6-3 victory over the Sharks that ignited an improbable comeback in the first-round series. Williams finished the playoffs with 25 points (nine goals, 16 assists) in 26 games, including seven points (two goals, five assists) in the Stanley Cup Final against New York.

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