The LA Kings dropped a tough game at home 3-0 to a very good team in the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday.

A few takeaways:

1. First-period penalties continue to hurt LA Kings

In each of the last four games, the LA Kings have committed a penalty within the first eight minutes of the opening period. It’s one thing to put yourself short-handed against sub .500 teams, but against the better teams in the league like the Panthers and Avalanche, you’re just asking for trouble.

Adrian Kempe was tabbed for holding just over five minutes into the first period on Tuesday night. The Kings actually did a nice job for the first minute of their penalty kill, with Austin Strand standing Nathan MacKinnon up at the blue line that resulted in a turnover.

However, after the Avalanche finally gained the offensive zone entry, MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen attracted way too much attention on the right side, leaving Val Nichushkin alone in the low slot for a tap-in past Jonathan Quick.

Despite coming into this game with the 12th-best power-play conversion (23.3%), the Avalanche lead the league with 51 goals on the man advantage. You have to play 5-on-5 hockey against these guys to give yourself a chance.

2. Rare frustration from Kopitar

The Kings came out of the intermission looking much better on defense. At one point, the Avalanche went over eight minutes without registering a shot on net. Even LA’s first line of Iafallo-Kopitar-Kempe put together strong shifts in the final eight minutes of the period. But there’s no doubt this line needs to get it going.

Martin Frk was called for a very questionable interference call, putting Colorado back in the power-play. The Kings penalty killers couldn’t get it done as Cale Makar‘s blast from the point was re-directed by J.T. Compher and into the net.

Anze Kopitar showed some rare frustration after failing to get off a shot on his breakaway prior to the Avs power-play. Credit to Makar, who had an excellent back-check on the Kings’ captain to prevent the shot. Kopitar skated back to the bench, slamming his stick against the glass before throwing it like a javelin down the tunnel. He also followed that by throwing the water bottle down the tunnel.

“I think for Kopi, that’s an individual moment for Kopi right now. He’s had some chances, he hit the crossbar in the shootout, breakaway rolls off his tape, he’s not feeling it right now and he’s individually frustrated,” Todd McLellan said after the game. “I think there’s greater value in how he deals with the kids all the time, and no one sees that or hears that all the time except for us, and he does a tremendous job of it.”

3. Mikko Rantanen continues to haunt LAK

Certain players seem to be a constant thorn in the sides of a team. Mikko Rantanen is that guy for the LA Kings. In addition to his primary assist on Nichushkin’s goal in the first period, the 25-year-old Finnish forward scored on the Avalanche’s second power-play of the game.

Including the two points on Tuesday, Rantanen now has 10 goals and 17 assists for 27 points in 21 career games against the Kings, tied for the second-most points against any team he’s faced.

Looking ahead, the LA Kings have been shut out in two of their last three games, with the Sharks and Golden Knights on the docket still this week. With Edmonton holding on against the Red Wings, the Kings hold just a four-point advantage in the standings, but the Oilers have two games in hand.

The Kings certainly don’t want to find themselves in a Wild Card spot because as former LA Kings head coach Darryl Sutter said on Tuesday, “It’s going to be a waste of eight days,” facing the Colorado Avalanche.

After dropping both games to their division rivals last week, the Kings have to find a way to beat the Sharks on Thursday.

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