Pittsburgh 2, Kings 1.

Jordan Staal’s forehand wrister with 18.4 seconds left in overtime sent the Kings to a 2-1 loss against a depleted Penguins squad.

After Los Angeles native Brett Sterling got the Pens on the board early, Jarret Stoll capitalized on a Penguins turnover to tie the game at 1 at 17:17 of the first period. Nobody scored again in a tight defensive battle until Staal’s game-winner. Jonathan Quick made 24 saves, and counterpart Marc-Andre Fleury had 32 for the Penguins.

When Quick and Fleury weren’t trading saves – mostly of the routine variety – they got help from their defense. The Kings (18) and Penguins (21) combined for 39 blocked shots, including seven alone by Pittsburgh defenseman Zbynek Michalek. It was the type of game Pittsburgh needed without injured forwards Sidney Crosby (concussion), Evgeni Malkin (knee) and Chris Kunitz (lower body).

It was the type of game the Kings needed, too, given the depth of their recent offensive struggles. In the end, it could have gone either way. This time it went the Penguins’ way.

Optimistically, the Kings added to their point total for the seventh straight game. Pessimistically, even the latest forward permutations couldn’t find the second goal it needed to beat a weakened offensive team.

A few more notes:
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Updates on Sturm, Parse, and media darling Rob Scuderi.

That collective sigh coming from El Segundo tomorrow morning will signal the end of the Kings’ brief layover in Southern California. After spending three full days at home, the last two of which included morning practices, it’s off to Pittsburgh and arguably the Kings’ toughest road trip of the season.

The six-games-in-10-days stretch includes games against four of the top seven teams in the Eastern Conference (plus the Islanders and the Blue Jackets).
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