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The Los Angeles Kings’ four-game winning streak came to an end last night, as they came up short in a 2-1 loss against the Minnesota Wild.
Arthur Kaliyev came back into the lineup in place of Brendan Lemieux, while Alex Elder replaced Tobias Bjornfot on the blue line.
Despite a decent start for Los Angeles, it looked like the Wild got on the board midway through the opening frame, as Adam Beckman somehow just snuck a puck through Pheonix Copley down low on a power play. However, the Kings challenged and the goal was called back on an offside, keeping the game scoreless. Los Angeles ended up getting some good opportunities as the period went on, including a 2-on-1 that resulted in huge save by Filip Gustavsson off a chance from Sean Walker, but the frame ended scoreless.
The Wild ended up getting on the board only 13 seconds into the middle frame though, with Ryan Hartman beating Copley with a great wrist shot. The Kings ended up controlling a lot of the frame after that and getting the bulk of chances for about 10 minutes afterwards, but despite outshooting the Wild 14-4 in the period, they remained down through 40 minutes.
However, the Kings weren’t really able to press much in the third period, and Minnesota did a great job shutting down any chances against. Then late in the uneventful frame, Hartman struck again, wiring another shot past Copley to put Minnesota up by two. The Kings did get their best chances of the period with the goalie pulled late in the game and were able to get on the board with only 20 seconds to go, as Anze Kopitar buried a rebound. That’s as close as they’d come though, falling 2-1.
Los Angeles played a pretty strong game overall and might have deserved a better fate here. They outshot the Wild 24-10 in the back 40 minutes and outplayed them through a lot of the night.
Filip Gustavsson was a difference-maker though, stopping 33 shots in the win. While Pheonix Copley can’t really be blamed for the two goals he allowed, Gustavsson won the goaltending battle.
The other factor is that the Kings’ power play has been key to their scoring, and they only had a single power play opportunity. While they don’t necessarily just rely on the power plays for the bulk of their opportunities (as they were the better team at even strength last night), it is where a lot of their goals have been coming from. The Kings rank ninth in the league in goals, but 18th in goals at 5-on-5, so when Los Angeles’ power play only has one chance to operate like last night, we can see how they may not be scoring as much.
On the flip side, the Kings did a great job limiting chances for Minnesota, especially after the first period, and went 3-for-3 on the penalty kill (aided in part by the offside challenge).
Obviously, it’s not the ideal way for the Kings to begin their road trip. At the same time though, the effort was certainly there and even though they didn’t get the win, they did outplay a strong Western Conference opponent on the road.
The Kings will be back in action on Thursday, when they face the New Jersey Devils.
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