LA Kings: Anze Kopitar, Todd McLellan talk “playoff-ish” game against Capitals
The LA Kings saw their eight-game point streak come to end on Wednesday night, losing to the Capitals 2-0.
Despite dominating the Washington Capitals in the faceoff dot on Wednesday night, the LA Kings could not get a goal past Ilya Samsonov. The Capitals’ netminder stopped all 34 shots he faced, including a shooting gallery performance from the Kings in the first period, leading the way with 14-9 shots on the goal.
Trevor Moore‘s wrist shot from the right side at the 12:08 mark of the second period was arguably the Kings’ best look of the night. The shot ricocheted off Samsonov’s left pad and off the post. Later in the period, the gritty forward had another great look after Matt Roy‘s shot from the point created a ton of chaos in front of the net, with Moore’s backhand shot from his knees also being stopped.
And despite leading all forward with 21:48 time-on-ice, Anze Kopitar registered just one shot on goal.
“I mean, obviously hard to win the game without scoring any goals,” the Kings captain said after the game. “It was a tight game, obviously up and down the ice, and they found a way to pop one and get the lead. You’ve got to find a way to score goals.”
Of course, the Kings received a significant boost prior to the game, with Viktor Arvidsson slotting back into the first line alongside Kopitar. The Swedish forward had been in COVID protocol since the beginning of the month. He skated with the team for the first time on Tuesday, setting the stage for his return on Wednesday.
The Kings’ top line generated just six shots on goal, with Arvidsson accounting for four of those. Despite the Kings’ first line having the fifth-best expected goals-for percentage (62.8 xGF%) in the NHL, Dustin Brown and Arvidsson have combined for only four goals.
Kopitar is pacing all skaters on the Kings with eight goals and 16 points, but the group is still clearly looking to find chemistry as the season plays out.
“This was certainly a tight game, it felt playoff-ish a little bit, in that there wasn’t any space either way,” head coach Todd McLellan said. “I think both teams had to work hard just to even get a shot off and we didn’t take advantage of some of the loose ice we did create. There were a few 2-on-1 opportunities that we had, that we tried to make an extra pass, and they’re a really good checking team.
“At the end of the night, it felt like it was going to be that type of game, where at the end of the night it was going to be one goal that was the difference and that’s what it was. It went off a skate, changed the complexion of the play and they made a good play to put it in,” he added.
Garnet Hathaway‘s goals with 3:30 remaining in regulation broke the scoreless game, with Washington eventually adding another on an empty-netter. After falling in Winnipeg to close out their roadtrip, the Kings have now dropped two straight, and their offense has to find some consistency against the better teams in the league.
As he has been all year, goaltender Jonathan Quick was outstanding again on Wednesday, stopping 36-of-37 shots, including 17-of-18 in the third period. The future Hall-of-Famer is quietly having a terrific season at the tender age of 35. Through the first nine starts this season, Quick owns a 1.88 GAA and .940 SV%.
“From my time with Quickie, I think he is the same person, I think he works just as hard, he’s as focused as he’s been,” McLellan said. “He’s healthy this year, last year he got dinged up a little bit. I don’t see a big difference in him, I think he’s always been that goaltender.
“I think the people around him are playing a little bit more predictable, to allow him to make some reads, I think that we’re playing a better defensive brand in front of him,” he added. “I’ve said this every time he’s played, but his game management, his ability to read what’s going on during the game – not just the pass from Carlson to Ovechkin, but the ‘we need a whistle’ or ‘keep the play alive because we’ve got them going’ – you can tell he’s a veteran goaltender.”
The Kings have no time to reflect on the loss with the Carolina Hurricanes coming into town on Saturday afternoon. Rod Brind’Amour‘s group is playing great hockey out of the gates, carrying a 12-2-0 record into Saturday’s matchup, including a 6-1-0 record on the road. The Kings will have to find a way to score some goals against a team allowing just 1.93 goals per contest, the best mark in the National Hockey League.
LA Kings: Three takeaways from 2-0 loss to Washington Capitals