The LA Kings played in a physical battle on Monday night, dropping a 3-2 contest to the Calgary Flames. With the loss, the Kings hold a one-point lead over the Oilers.
CGY – Johnny Gaudreau (33), Unassisted
LAK – Adrian Kempe (30), Assists: Anze Kopitar (42), Alex Iafallo (19)
LAK – Adrian Kempe (31), Assists: Anze Kopitar (43), Sean Durzi (22)
CGY: Elias Lindholm (35), Assists: Johnny Gaudreau (61), Matthew Tkachuk (53)
CGY – Johnny Gaudreau (34), Assists: Ryan Carpenter (9), Michael Stone (2)
A few takeaways from Monday’s loss:
1. Brutal start
The Kings couldn’t have drawn up a worse start. Literally, ten seconds into the game, Todd McLellan‘s group found themselves in a 1-0 hole on a goal that Cal Petersen would like to have back.
Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau fired a shot from behind the net, and the puck took an odd bounce past Petersen. At the time, it was a pretty disheartening goal, considering the magnitude of this game.
“The first and the third goal are very preventable,” head coach Todd McLellan admitted. “They didn’t make those critical mistakes, they made some, but we didn’t capitalize. Fine line between the two teams tonight, and we’re just on the short end.”
The Johnny Gaudreau Special. pic.twitter.com/dYzlqa3nXo
— Calgary Flames (@NHLFlames) April 5, 2022
Thankfully, it happened very early, and this Kings squad doesn’t panic when they trail early.
Both teams were strong defensively as Calgary led the shots on goal total 3-1 11:30 into the opening frame before the Kings started to find their game.
2. Kempe, 30-goal scorer
With just over six minutes left in the first period, the Kings’ first line showed up in a big way, with all three players touching the puck.
— Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) April 5, 2022
But he wasn’t done. After a scrap in front of the Kings’ net, one that saw Cal Petersen and Matthew Tkachuk getting into it, along with Gaudreau and Sean Durzi, LA ended up with a 5-on-3 power-play for 1:27. The Kings wasted little time, with Kempe picking a corner for his second goal of the night.
3. Flames re-take the lead
Johnny Gaudreau was involved in all three of the Flames’ three goals. From behind the net, he fed Elias Lindholm in the slot that evened the game up at two goals apiece.
Just over one minute later, Tobias Bjornfot‘s fanned on a kick of the puck in the Kings’ defensive zone, leading to Ryan Carpenter finding Gaudreau in the low slot. Johnny Hockey deked and went backhand, top-shelf that badly beat Petersen.
“The third (goal) was really disappointing because that’s a situation we handle a lot better than we did. Puck coming around the boards, and we just deflected out it into the slot,” McLellan added.
4. Power-play woes return
The Kings’ power-play had been noticeably better coming into Monday’s showdown with the Flames. Since March 22, LA had converted on five of their last 15 power-play opportunities. With the Flames committing six penalties, including three in the third period, the Kings have to be able to convert on more than just one chance on the man advantage.
“I liked the looks, obviously you want to score, especially in the position that we are right now,” said Anze Kopitar after the game. “Credit to their PK, they obviously block quite a bit of shots, that’s on us to find the shooting lanes and get it there. Maybe not score on the first shot, but at least get it there to see if there’s any junk we can clean up. Like I said, credit to their PK, it was pretty good.”
Erik Gudbranson and Lindholm accounted for five of Calgary’s 13 shot blocks on the evening, as many of the Kings’ shot opportunities in the final frame never made it to the net.
With the loss, the Flames extended their lead over LA to five points. More important, the Edmonton Oilers can pass the Kings on Tuesday with a regulation or overtime win against the San Jose Sharks, making Thursday’s game the biggest of the season.
The LA Kings will have a couple of days off to re-group. Matt Roy, Dustin Brown, and Brendan Lemieux were full participants in Monday morning’s practice. Let’s see if any of those guys make a return to the lineup.