Drew Doughty’s numbers take a beating in the L.A. Kings’ last two games

Kings defenseman Drew Doughty had a second consecutive rough game during Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. He took a key penalty in the third period that led to the go-ahead power-play goal for the Canucks’ Radim Vrbata. He also had a defensive rating of minus-3 in a team-leading 24:54. He also assisted on the Kings’ only goal, a power-play strike by Marian Gaborik in the second period.

Doughty also was a minus-2 in the Kings’ 3-2 overtime loss Wednesday to the Ducks, which was far from his best game of the season. He and Gaborik collided in a defensive breakdown that led to Ryan Kesler’s winning goal in OT. Doughty and Gaborik both went to cover defenseman Hampus Lindholm, leaving Kesler with plenty of open ice to set and fire a shot from low in the right faceoff circle past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.

Overall, Doughty’s plus-minus rating has dipped to plus-1.

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Trade deadline: What will the L.A. Kings do to improve their roster?

The NHL’s trade deadline is at noon Monday (Pacific time). Last year, Kings general manager Dean Lombardi pulled off a major move to get veteran winger Marian Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets. Gaborik scored a team-leading 14 goals during the playoffs, helping to guide the Kings to their second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons. Can Lombardi swing another deal that will benefit the struggling club? There was a rumor early Monday that the Kings would attempt to deal suspended defenseman Slava Voynov, but that was shot down quickly.

Last week, Lombardi acquired puck-moving defenseman Andrej Sekera from the Carolina Hurricanes for a draft pick and a prospect, a move designed to fill a void created when Voynov was suspended indefinitely Oct. 20 by the NHL over a domestic violence charge at his Redondo Beach home. The addition of Sekera means the Kings are prepared to move on without Voynov.

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L.A. Kings give forward Jordan Nolan a three-season contract extension

Kings general manager Dean Lombardi continued to reward his players with contract extensions. Tuesday, he inked Jordan Nolan to a three-season deal with an AAV of $950,000. Nolan, a 25-year-old forward, has only 24 points in 170 career games in the NHL. He was a member of the Kings’ Stanley Cup championship teams in 2012 and ’14, however. Lombardi has been generous in giving extensions to his players, with Marian Gaborik receiving a new seven-year deal and Matt Greene getting a four-year contract during the last offseason.

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Stadium Series: Marian Gaborik talks about adjusting to playing the Kings style

Here’s what Kings forward Marian Gaborik said about adjusting his style of play to fit his more defensive-oriented teammates: “Yeah, I had to adjust a little bit, to buy into the system, play on the right side of the puck and make sure to play in the game and do my responsibilities as well. So, I think we’re rolling very good as a team right now, and I just have to keep it up.”

Here’s what Kings captain Dustin Brown said about Gaborik’s play: “I think we all understand what he was brought here to do, and that’s score big goals, and that’s what we expect of him. It’s the time when he’s not scoring big goals that we need him to play Kings hockey and tonight he came through for us huge. … I think it’s a work in progress.”

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Stadium Series: L.A. Kings forward Marian Gaborik comes up big

The Kings’ Marian Gaborik scored the winning goal in their 2-1 victory Saturday over the San Jose Sharks. It seemed to come out of nowhere, and not only because of the way he ripped his shot past the Sharks’ Antti Niemi and into the net in the opening minutes of the third period. Gabork has been something of a forgotten man this season, after leading the Kings in goals during the playoffs last spring.

“He’s pretty quiet, he’s pretty quiet, and then he has a goal like that,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said of Gaborik, who scored his 17th of the season. “That’s the type of game-breaker he is.”

 

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Morning reading: A look at the L.A. Kings from the Great White North

Typewriter

Damien Cox of Canada’s sportsnet.ca, one of the best in the business, offers a few thoughts about the state of the Kings leading into the March 2 trade deadline. It’s worth a look. Here’s the link: http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/deadline-decisions-can-kings-afford-to-boost-blueline/

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Scoring change: L.A. Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb earns an assist

The good folks in Columbus took another look at Dustin Brown’s third period goal during the Kings’ victory Monday over the Blue Jackets and they awarded a second assist to defenseman Brayden McNabb. The goal, at 1 minute, 49 seconds of the third, now reads: Dustin Brown from Marian Gaborik and McNabb.

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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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Pregame reading: Los Angeles Kings at Washington Capitals

KINGS AT CAPITALS

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

The Kings’ 5-10-6 road record is the NHL’s third-worst by victories and fourth-worst by points. Only the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers had fewer road wins than the Kings with four apiece at the start of business Monday, and only the Sabres (nine), Oilers (15) and Carolina Hurricanes (15) had fewer points than the Kings’ 16. The Kings (21-16-12 overall) were ninth in the Western Conference, three points behind the Calgary Flames for the final wild-card spot. The Flames could have extended the gap to five points with a victory Monday over the Winnipeg Jets. The Kings began a five-game trip with a loss Saturday to the Boston Bruins. Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 38 points, including 27 assists. Marian Gaborik has a team-leading 15 goals. Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin leads the league with 31 goals. The Capitals are 25-15-10.

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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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