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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Kings at the World Championships, Day 5.

Michal Handzus and Slovakia (1-2) clinched third place in Group A Tuesday with a 4-3 loss to Russia. Handzus finished scoreless with a minus-1 rating in 19:23 for the host country, which lost despite the return of former Kings defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky from shoulder injuries.

Germany won the group at 2-1-0-0 (wins-overtime wins-losses-overtime losses), with Russia placing second and Slovenia fourth.

Group play is over; Slovakia next plays Thursday and will learn its opponent tomorrow.

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Player evaluation: Visnovsky



This season: 82 games, 8 goals, 33 assists, minus-18 rating.

Positives: This depends on which Visnovsky you’d like to talk about: the one who, during the previous couple seasons, established himself as a potential Norris Trophy candidate, or the one who looked tenative and overmatched this season. When he’s on his game, Visnovsky is, pound-for-pound, a very strong defenseman with great puck-moving skills and good offensive instincts.

Negatives: So, what happened to that guy last year? It certainly looked like a new player on the ice this season, and not in a good way.

Looking ahead: It’s hard to say what went wrong with Visnovsky. A popular theory is that he got overwhelmed, mentally, by the combination of a big contract extension (which kicks in next season) and the fact that he was named an assistant captain. The hope within the organization is that he will settle down and return to previous form.

Contract situation: Signed through 2012-13 (cap number of $5.6 million next season).

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