Kempe Hathaway

Photo Credit: Juan Ocampo/NHLI via Getty Images

The LA Kings’ point streak came to an end as they couldn’t solve Ilya Samsonov in Wednesday’s loss to the Washington Capitals.

Riding an eight-game point streak and coming off a very successful road trip, the LA Kings came into Wednesday hoping to carry that momentum into their match-up with the Washington Capitals.

The Kings were back home, where they were 5-2-0 on the season. Viktor Arvidsson was back. The new old-school alternate uniforms were being debuted. It was going to be a good night.

And then it wasn’t. The Kings could never get the party going on Wednesday. They were close to at least extending their point streak to nine games when Garnet Hathaway finally scored the game’s first goal for Washington with 3:30 left in the third period. Hathaway added an empty netter shortly after as well, and Ilya Samsonov stopped all 34 shots he faced to hand the Kings their first regulation loss since October 28th and second shutout loss of the season.

Here are some of our thoughts from the game.

1. Arvidsson returns to the lineup

The Kings welcomed Arvidsson back to the lineup on Wednesday after a seven-game absence due to COVID-19 protocol. He reclaimed his spot on the first line with Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown, finishing the night with four shots on goal in 17 minutes of action.

An odd thing happened in those seven games Arvidsson missed, though: The Kings went 6-0-1.

This is not a suggestion that the Kings are better off without Arvidsson, but it is questioning whether he should have immediately been placed back on the top line, where Adrian Kempe had been filling in pretty well. Not only had Arvidsson missed the last two weeks, but Wednesday was also just his ninth game with the Kings. He’s still trying to find chemistry with Kopitar and Brown.

Instead, Kempe was down on the third line with Rasmus Kupari and Trevor Moore. He also had perhaps the most life to his game of any King on Wednesday. Kempe finished the night with six shots on goal in just 14:57 of time on ice, which tied him with Alex Ovechkin for the most among either team.

Perhaps if he were still playing with Kopitar and Brown and had gotten a few more minutes of ice time, Kempe eventually would have buried one last night.

2. Offense M.I.A

The Kings’ recent run of success has helped overshadow the fact that the offense has been struggling.

Wednesday may have been LA’s first regulation loss in three weeks, but it was the fourth straight game and sixth time in their last seven games that the team failed to score more than two goals in regulation. In fact, the Kings have only scored three or more regulation goals in five of their 16 games so far this season. Their average of 2.56 goals per game ranks 26th in the NHL.

Jonathan Quick is having an outstanding season so far and has been a huge part of the team’s success lately. However, some regression from his current .940 save percentage is inevitable. The Kings are going to have to start scoring more goals if they want to hang around in the playoff picture.

3. Free Arty

The Kings only received one power play on Wednesday, which is a shame because it meant there wasn’t much opportunity for Arthur Kaliyev to break LA’s goose egg on the scoreboard.

At even strength, Kaliyev skated on the fourth line with Blake Lizotte and Brendan Lemieux, which isn’t exactly putting the kid in a great position to produce offensively. Still, he finished the night with four shots on goal despite seeing just 10:20 of ice time and had a great chance to tie the game late after the Capitals had taken the lead.

Evidently, Todd McLellan sees Kaliyev as a power-play specialist right now and doesn’t trust his all-around game enough to give him much ice time at even strength. But with the team struggling offensively the way it is, it may be time to give him a little more rope.

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