The LA Kings were outplayed in nearly every facet of Saturday’s game, falling 5-1 on the road against the Carolina Hurricanes. Before the game, the Kings were dealt another blow as netminder Cal Petersen went into the league’s COVID protocol. Jacob Ingham was recalled from nearby Greenville of the ECHL to serve as Jonathan Quick‘s backup.

Goal breakdown

CAR: Jesperi Kotkaniemi (7), Assists: Brady Skjei (5), Jesper Fast (5)

CAR: Jesper Fast (7) (Power Play), Assists: Andrew Poturalski (2), Jaccob Slavin (14)

CAR: Brett Pesce (2), Assists: Josh Leivo (1), Brady Skjei (6)

CAR: Teuvo Teravainen (7) (Power Play), Assists: Tony DeAngelo (16), Jesperi Kotkaniemi (6)

LAK: Blake Lizotte (2), Assists: Tobias Bjornfot (5)

CAR: Jack Drury (2), Assists: Derek Stepan (3), Brendan Smith (1)

Stats:

Goals

LAK: 1

CAR: 5

Shots on goal:

LAK: 33

CAR: 33

Hits:

LAK: 23

CAR: 17

Faceoff percentage:

LAK: 41.5%

CAR: 58.5%

Power plays:

LAK: 0/3

CAR: 2/5

Three things that stood out:

1. Highsticking play leads to two goals

The Kings likely could not have drawn up a worse start to this game. The Hurricanes opened the scoring just 37 seconds into the game. Olli Maatta‘s attempt to clear the zone was stopped by what looked like high-sticking:

LA Kings
Photo Credit: Bally Sports West

Instead, Jesperi Kotkaniemi poked the puck past Jonathan Quick after the Kings’ netminder initially stopped Brady Skjei’s shot attempt. Todd McLellan challenged the play for the aforementioned high-sticking, but the goal was upheld, and the Kings were off to the penalty kill.

Fifty-nine seconds later, Jesper Fast re-directed a shot from the point past Quick to give the Hurricanes a 2-0 lead just 1:36 into the first period. The Kings could never recover from the first two minutes.

2. Blake Lizotte lights the lamp

Can Blake Lizotte play the Hurricanes every game? He was arguably the best player on the ice for the LA Kings on Saturday, lighting the lamp in the second period.

On his goal, the Kings forward recovered a loose puck in neutral ice and used great edgework combined with a laser of a shot to get the visitors on the board. It’s worth noting that Lizotte has two goals this season, both against Carolina.

“I thought Lizzo’s line played hard tonight,” Kings head coach Todd McLellan said after the game. “They did a lot of things consistently, minute one through minute 60. For the most part, they weren’t our issue.”

3. First regulation loss of roadtrip

This four-game road trip was arguably the most difficult portion of the LA Kings’ schedule in December. After an overtime loss in Tampa, LA responded with a dominating win against the Florida Panthers on Thursday, taking the first three of a possible four points.

Saturday’s game was the first real clunker of the road trip against an immensely talented Hurricanes team, even without six of their regulars in the lineup.

“If you’re in the NHL, you belong here,” McLellan said of the AHL players recalled in Carolina’s lineup. “They have that line of not necessarily kids but veteran players, they’re a little bit older, and they’re leading the American League in scoring… the frustrating part isn’t the fact that those kids were here or those tweeners were here and playing. The frustrating part was what we didn’t do. We just have to be better all over.”

The Kings will put a bow on this roadie tomorrow in the nation’s capital against a red-hot Capitals team. It’ll be interesting to see if Quick draws in for his sixth consecutive start between the pipes. Ingham was the backup on Saturday, but Garret Sparks has reportedly been recalled from the Ontario Reign to join the team in Washington D.C. on Sunday.

Will he get the nod?

The 28-year-old hasn’t played in an NHL game since the 2019-20 season, but he has 38 NHL games under his belt. Sparks has a 3.23 GAA and .894 SV% in eight games with the Reign at the AHL level this season.

As noted, the Kings will wrap up their four-game road trip on Sunday in Washington, with puck drop set for 4 pm PT.

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