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.
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.”
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.”
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/
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
Here are a couple of things to watch when the Kings face off against the Ottawa Senators on Thursday at the Canadian Tire Center:
First, the Kings are 3-5-1 on the road after Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to the Sabres in Buffalo, which helped to explain why they were fifth in the Pacific Division and ninth in the Western Conference at the start of business Wednesday. The defending Stanley Cup champion Kings appeared headed for an early vacation rather than a playing for a chance to defend their title.
Second, a poor road record plus a lack of scoring depth have been costly for the Kings (14-9-5). Anze Kopitar, their leading scorer last season, has only five goals and 12 points. Mike Richards has only four goals and 10 points. Marian Gaborik, their leading goal-scorer in the playoffs, has four goals and eight points in 16 injury-plagued games. Gaborik returned to the lineup Tuesday after a four-game absence because of an upper-body injury.