Kings fall to Blues in OT in their final home game of season

  • Kings goaltender Cal Petersen makes a save in front of the Blues’ Tyler Bozak, center, and as the Kings’ Mikey Anderson defends during the first period of Monday’s game at Staples Center. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Andreas Athanasiou #22 of the Los Angeles Kings stick handles between Marco Scandella #6 and Ivan Barbashev #49 of the St. Louis Blues during the first period at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: David Perron #57 of the St. Louis Blues skates in for a shot past Sean Walker #26 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Ivan Barbashev #49 of the St. Louis Blues attempts to block the pass between Anze Kopitar #11 and Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Calvin Petersen #40 of the Los Angeles Kings reacts to a shot next to Brayden Schenn #10 of the St. Louis Blues during the first period at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Ryan O’Reilly #90 of the St. Louis Blues gets his shot off in front of Tobias Bjornfot #33 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Alex Iafallo #19 of the Los Angeles Kings reaches for the puck in front of Brayden Schenn #10 of the St. Louis Blues during the first period at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Jordan Kyrou #25 of the St. Louis Blues prepares his shot between Drew Doughty #8 and Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Kings goaltender Calvin Petersen (40) makes a save as St. Louis Blues center Ivan Barbashev (49) covers his head during the first period of a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Blues left wing Zach Sanford (12) passes the puck past Los Angeles Kings center Jaret Anderson-Dolan (28) during the first period of a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) blocks a shot by Los Angeles Kings center Jaret Anderson-Dolan (28) during the first period of a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly (90) and Los Angeles Kings right wing Adrian Kempe (9) reach for the puck during the first period of a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Blues left wing David Perron (57) grabs the jersey of Los Angeles Kings right wing Adrian Kempe (9) during the first period of a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (55) blocks a pass by Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) during the first period of a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Blues center Dakota Joshua (54) and Los Angeles Kings center Lias Andersson (24) fight during the first period of a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Blues center Dakota Joshua (54) and Los Angeles Kings center Lias Andersson (24) fight during the first period of a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz (17), center Brayden Schenn (10) and Los Angeles Kings right wing Alex Iafallo (19) skate to the puck during the first period of a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Jordan Binnington #50 of the St. Louis Blues reacts after a collision with Rasmus Kupari #89 of the Los Angeles Kings as Justin Faulk #72 of the St. Louis Blues skates past during the second period at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Kings center Rasmus Kupari (89) collides with St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) during the second period of a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Blues center Jordan Kyrou (25) reaches the puck ahead of Los Angeles Kings center Trevor Moore (12) during the second period of a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Kings goaltender Calvin Petersen (40) deflects a shot by St. Louis Blues left wing Mike Hoffman (68) during the first period of a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Blues left wing Zach Sanford (12), defenseman Marco Scandella (6), and Los Angeles Kings center Rasmus Kupari (89) skate to the puck during the second period of a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) blocks a shot during the first period of a hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) blocks a shot by Los Angeles Kings left wing Brendan Lemieux (48) during the second period of a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Kings goaltender Calvin Petersen (40) blocks a shot during the second period of a hockey game against the St. Louis Blues Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (55) passes the puck ahead of Los Angeles Kings left wing Carl Grundstrom (91) during the second period of a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) blocks a shot during the second period of a hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Carl Grundstrom #91 of the Los Angeles Kings and Steven Santini #36 of the St. Louis Blues collide against the boards for the puck during the second period at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Colton Parayko #55 of the St. Louis Blues skates with the puck as he is rushed by Adrian Kempe #9 of the Los Angeles Kings during the second period at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Steven Santini #36 of the St. Louis Blues falls as he collides with Carl Grundstrom #91 of the Los Angeles Kings as Brendan Lemieux #48 comes in for the puck during the second period at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Mike Hoffman #68 of the St. Louis Blues and Jaret Anderson-Dolan #28 of the Los Angeles Kings skate after the puck during the second period at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Jordan Binnington #50 of the St. Louis Blues makes a blocker save during the second period against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Dakota Joshua #54 of the St. Louis Blues clears the puck in front of Gabriel Vilardi #13 of the Los Angeles Kings during the second period at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Tyler Bozak #21 of the St. Louis Blues scores on a backhand in front of Calvin Petersen #40 and Gabriel Vilardi #13 of the Los Angeles Kings during the third period in a 2-1 overtime win at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – MAY 10: Tyler Bozak #21 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates his goal with Jaden Schwartz #17 and Brayden Schenn #10, to take a 1-0 lead over the Los Angeles Kings, during the third period in a 2-1 overtime win at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • St. Louis Blues center Tyler Bozak (21) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the third period of a hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Sean Walker #26 of the Los Angeles Kings reaches for the puck in front of Zach Sanford #12 of the St. Louis Blues and Anze Kopitar #11 during the third period at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) watches as a puck flies away from the goal during the third period of a hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington (50) reaches behind his back to gain control of the puck during the third period of a hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • The Los Angeles Kings celebrate after right wing Alex Iafallo (19) scored a goal during the third period of a hockey game against the St. Louis Blues Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Cal Petersen #40 of the Los Angeles Kings makes a save during the third period in a 2-1 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Justin Faulk #72 of the St. Louis Blues reacts to his goal for a 2-1 overtime win in front of Calvin Petersen #40 and Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Adrian Kempe #9, Calvin Petersen #40 and Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings react after a 2-1 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Kings goaltender Cal Petersen, left, and defenseman Drew Doughty show their frustration after the St. Louis Blues scored in overtime on Monday night at Staples Center. The Blues won, 2-1, in the Kings’ final home game of the season. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Justin Faulk #72 of the St. Louis Blues celebrates his goal for a 2-1 overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The St. Louis Blues celebrate after scoring in overtime to win 2-1 over the Los Angeles Kings in a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. The goal was scored by defenseman Justin Faulk (72). (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • The St. Louis Blues celebrate after scoring in overtime to win 2-1 over the Los Angeles Kings in a hockey game Monday, May 10, 2021, in Los Angeles. The goal was scored by defenseman Justin Faulk (72). (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Adrian Kempe #9 and Calvin Petersen #40 of the Los Angeles Kings react as they leave the ice after a 2-1 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues at Staples Center on May 10, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Kings gesture to their fans after a 2-1 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues in their final home game of the season on Monday night at Staples Center. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Fans applaud as the Kings leave the ice after their final home game of the season, a 2-1 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues, on Monday night at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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On fan appreciation night, the Kings gave the modest crowd on hand the gift of bonus hockey, though they lost to the St. Louis Blues, 2-1, in overtime on Monday in their final game at Staples Center this season.

The Kings have won just two of nine overtime games and just one of eight one-goal games at home this season They now have just two games left on their schedule, road games at Colorado on Wednesday and Thursday.

Winger Alex Iafallo scored a goal for the Kings. Cal Petersen made his fourth consecutive start and sixth straight appearance, turning aside 17 of 19 shots.

Center Tyler Bozak and defenseman Justin Faulk scored for St. Louis. In addition to netting the game-winning goal, Faulk assisted on Bozak’s third-period goal. Jordan Binningon made 26 saves and extended his stretch without a regulation loss to eight games.

St. Louis scored 46 seconds into the three-on-three overtime period.

The puck pinged around the neutral zone, bouncing off sticks like a game of pinball with six flippers. It left the Blues with a two-on-one rush, during which winger David Perron slid the puck to Faulk, who delayed before he leaned one way and shot the other for a short-side game-winner.

“The puck bounced over (Adrian) Kempe’s stick and they took advantage of it,” said Kings coach Todd McLellan, who said he felt his team was “too cute” offensively but solid defensively in the loss.

The Kings drew a penalty late in regulation that almost got them to the buzzer and nearly earned them a win. They had a solid chance with defenseman Drew Doughty taking the puck to the net. Moments later, Doughty created greater suspense when hit the post with a shot that also ended up behind Binnington but did not enter the net.

With around 3:30 left in the game, the Blues created a scramble as their power play was about to expire, but Petersen stood his ground and the Kings cleared the puck to safety.

“We took a penalty late and it put some stress on our penalty killers. Their power play has been one of the best in the league over the past two months, but our penalty killers did a good job,” McLellan said.

With 12:25 to play, the Kings had evened the score. Center Gabe Vilardi and defenseman Olli Maatta supported each other along the end boards before Vilardi centered the puck in front for Iafallo’s one-timer. It was Iafallo’s 13th goal, and Vilardi’s assist extended his point streak to four games (three goals, two assists during that span).

“I’m feeling comfortable right now,” said Vilardi, a 2017 first-round draft pick. “I’m playing with two good linemates that both work hard, and I’m able to get the puck so I can make more plays. We’re creating right now offensively.”

“I’m feeling comfortable right now, I’m playing with two good linemates who both play hard … we’re creating now offensively, but I still think we can do more,” Vilardi said.

Ironically, 6 minutes and 10 seconds earlier, the Blues’ goal began in similar fashion, but this time Vilardi’s linemate Lias Andersson, who later helped keep their scoring play alive, failed to secure the puck the Blues’ net. That sent St. Louis the other way in transition. Bozak trailed the rush which made three passes from the red line in, two of them off the backhand, before Bozak alertly slipped a backhand shot under Petersen’s pads.

The second period saw some sustained pressure from the Kings in the middle of the frame and the Blues came on toward the end. Through two periods, St. Louis had won two-thirds of the faceoffs.

Even so, the Kings had solid possession numbers. Their percentages-for stats – Corsi, Fenwick, Shots and Scoring Chances – all got stronger as the game progressed

“St. Louis isn’t a volume shooting team to begin with, they like to set up and wait for one really good shot,” McLellan said.

The first period had plenty of pace and crisp passing, as well as a power play per side, but only 11 combined shots and no scoring.

Prior to the game, Kings defenseman Matt Roy was announced as the team’s nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy. One player from each team is selected by its local writers as a finalist for the award, which goes to the player who best embodies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.

The trophy honors Bill Masterton, a former Minnesota North Star who died as a result of head injuries he sustained in a game. The Blues’ nominee was winger Vladimir Tarasenko. Former Kings Jack Campbell, a goalie with Toronto, and Milan Lucic, a winger with Calgary, were also nominated.

WORK TO DO

The Kings finished 9-14-5 at home and lost 11 of their final 14 games at Staples Center after working their way into playoff contention in March. The Kings never won more than two in a row on home ice.

“Our younger players that have been in the league now for a year or two must show improvement,” McLellan said. “They have to begin to carry more of the load, offensively, defensively, game management. It’s a must that they graduate and move on to the next level, break through.”

FANS APPRECIATED

The Kings only got to play a handful of home games in front of fans late in the season, but the players definitely appreciated the limited-capacity crowds, which they said restored at least some sense of normalcy in a season still largely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I don’t know how many there is, if there’s 1,000 or 2,000 or whatever it is, even with that we can hear them and hear some of the chants,” Vilardi said.

News services contributed to this story.

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Kings fall to Devon Toews, Avalanche

Though the Kings played a superior game to their effort Friday, they lost by an identical 3-2 score to the same opponent, the Colorado Avalanche, at Staples Center Saturday.

Defenseman Sean Walker and rookie center Rasmus Kupari lit the lamp for the Kings. Cal Petersen negated 27 of 30 shots.

Defenseman Devon Toews scored twice for the Avalanche while defenseman Cale Makar produced a goal and an assist. Winger Andre Burakovsky had two assists for the second straight night, stretching his point streak to five games. Jonas Johansson made 16 of 18 saves for his fourth win in six starts since being acquired by Colorado.

“They pushed, they played hard, to a man, through the whole lineup,” Kings Coach Todd McLellan said of his team despite its defeat.

McLellan said that in the dying days of a season condemned to end next week, he was attempting to focus on a specific area each night. Saturday, it was the forecheck, and McLellan liked what he saw for most of the game. Additionally, he said he was evaluating intangibles among his young group.

“We’re looking for the character part. That, I think, is as important at this time of year as structure, passing skills and all those types of things. We passed that test tonight,” McLellan said.

The Kings managed to piece together a solid third-period push including a promising rush and an opportunity for center Anze Kopitar to feed winger Lias Andersson in the slot. They did not record a shot on goal in the former instance, and were thwarted by a last-instant stickcheck by Makar in the latter.

They pulled Petersen with around two minutes to play but failed to score. They have not yet scored six-on-five this season, which has three games remaining for the Kings.

“That third period was as fast of a period as we’ve played in a long time,” McLellan said.

An early third-period power play breathed life into the Kings’ game. First they sustained pressure on one trip up the ice, and then they scored two seconds after Colorado’s penalty expired, 5:21 into the period.

Andersson extended his point streak to three games when he made a short pass to Kupari, who had somehow found ice between the circles that was quiet enough to load up a lively shot. It was Kupari’s first NHL point, and in his first game action since March 8.

“Obviously it’s a great feeling to score my first NHL goal. I’ve got to give credit to Lias, it was a great pass,” Kupari said.

Kupari said he continued working on his physical play and puck protection over the past two months. McLellan said he felt the rookie settled in as the game progressed, carried the puck with confidence and made effective use of his respectable shot.

In the second period, the Kings did not build significantly on the momentum of a strong finish to the first period. Their best shift of the second came right near its conclusion. Earlier, they needed an authoritative glove save from Petersen on a sterling chance for center Nazem Kadri during a power play to avoid falling down three goals.

Near the halfway mark of the game, Colorado earned some breathing room. They drew the Kings to the right side of the zone, at which point Toews activated, creeping from the left point to the left faceoff circle. There, he received the puck from Makar, lurched toward Petersen and whipped a shot high to the short side for the second time Saturday for his ninth goal of the campaign.

The first period featured the Avs darting out to a two-goal lead before the Kings halved their deficit, all on goals where a skate came into play.

Center Gabe Vilardi combined his formidable reach with his soft hands as he extended his stick around defenseman Patrick Nemeth to deliver a deft pass to Walker. Walker controlled the puck off his skate and then went backhand to forehand for his fourth goal of the season with 6:02 left in the first period. Walker has 16 points on the year, five of which have come in his last three games, and Vilardi has three goals and an assist over his three-game scoring streak.

“I liked our game tonight. There were moments where I thought where we were, especially early, maybe a little bit intimidated; they are a very good team,” McLellan said. “Once we started to play we were aggressive, our forecheck was much better than it was yesterday.”

The Avs had gone up by a pair 3:27 earlier off a power-play goal. A failed clearing attempt that hit the skate of forward Adrian Kempe extended Colorado’s zone time. While it was Makar to winger Mikko Rantanen on the power play for a one timer on Friday, the play went the opposite direction Saturday with Rantanen sending a nimble pass for a heavy one-timer from the point by Makar. Winger Gabriel Landeskog set an effective screen in front for Makar’s eighth goal and his second in as many games.

Petersen had to contend with point-blank shots from forwards Joonas Donskoi and J.T. Compher off miscues, and his work kept the Kings in a game where they were despite being doubled up in shots through 20 minutes.

Colorado had opened the scoring less than five minutes in when Compher’s pass off the rush first struck Burakovsky’s skate and then Kupari’s stick before landing on Toews’s blade for a rising wrist shot that became his eighth goal of 2021.

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Kings out of playoff mix, look ahead to series vs. Coyotes

After failing to improve their own fortunes, the Kings now have the opportunity to play spoiler as they finish their season against two teams vying for the final West Division playoff berth and another with aspirations of a first-place finish.

That’ll start with visits Monday and Wednesday to face the Arizona Coyotes. They are currently fifth in the West standings, three points behind the St. Louis Blues, who have three games in hand on Arizona to boot.

“From this point on through, we’re going to play some tough games against some tough teams and we have to get over the fact that we are where we are,” Kings Coach Todd McLellan said. “Let’s face it, we’re not going to make the playoffs, I might as well say it right now, we’re not going to make the playoffs. I just don’t see how that’s going to happen, and we have to get over the fact that that’s happened.”

Though the Kings were not exactly owning their competition before the trade deadline–they had gone 6-10-0 in the month leading up to decision time–they were still  in the playoff hunt thanks to other middling West teams’ underperformance.

After dealing away forward Jeff Carter, who had spent parts of 10 seasons with the Kings, and adding very little, the Kings summarily dropped four of their next five games and lost six of nine overall.

“We can’t feel sorry for ourselves, that’s where we’re at right now,” McLellan said. “There isn’t an athlete that can win when they’re not all in.”

Now they face Arizona for the final two meetings of the season after having split the first six meetings. They’ll also play St. Louis once and the Colorado Avalanche, which sits in second place, four more times before the season ends.

Their most recent meeting with Arizona was one of the Kings’ poorest performances of the season, and their struggles were exacerbated by some precise execution on the part of Coach Rick Tocchet’s ‘Yotes.

Arizona won 4-0, a lopsided final score that flew in the face of the earlier showdowns. All five previous matches either went to a shootout, were one-goal games or were close enough to feature an empty-net goal near the final horn.

Two-time Stanley Cup champion and right winger Phil Kessel has led Arizona up front while breakout defenseman Jakob Chychrun has emerged as its most dangerous blue-liner. Those two have paced Arizona all season and against the Kings in particular, with each player notching six points in six games thus far.

Lesser known players have also proven thorny for the Kings, as rookie Michael Bunting recorded a hat trick and former first-round pick Lawson Crouse scored half of his four goals this season against the Kings.

Kings at Arizona

When: 7 p.m. Monday/7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Gila River Arena (limited in-person attendance)

TV/Radio: Bally Sports West//iHeartRadio

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Quinton Byfield makes his Kings debut in loss to Ducks

Hockey offers exhibitions of passion, resilience, teamwork, and, occasionally, the reification of a dream in real time.

Quinton Byfield made his NHL debut on Wednesday night. The Kings selected the Newmarket, Ontario native second overall in the 2020 NHL entry draft, the highest a Black player had ever been drafted in league history.

“I can definitely be a top player in the NHL one day. I’ve got the size, speed and natural abilities to do that,” Byfield said in the lead-up to the draft. “That’s the main goal, trying to be one of the top players in the NHL one day and, like everyone else in the league, to bring the Stanley Cup back to your team.”

Byfield, 18, started Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to the Ducks centering the second line and made a smooth pass on his first shift. In the third period, he tested goalie John Gibson with a pair of shots that were prime opportunities, both of which Gibson denied. Byfield finished with a team-high four shots on goal and was effective in the faceoff circle, winning eight of 12.

He saw 17:57 of ice time, including 4:20 on the power play, as Coach Todd McLellan said he was reconciling a desire to take pressure off of Byfield but also offer him an opportunity to take on significant responsibility.

“We don’t want to overload any individual, especially an 18-year-old coming into the league,” McLellan said.”We’re going to use the old cliche of ‘play the game, enjoy the moment, take everything in, don’t be afraid of making mistakes.’”

How much did McLellan trust Byfield? When the Kings allowed a late goal to fall behind 3-2 and had to pull goalie Cal Petersen, McLellan tabbed Byfield as the extra attacker. He even had the final shot attempt of the game during a hectic six-on-five shift.

Byfield has been adjusting to pro hockey at the American Hockey League level and also acclimating himself to his new home in Hermosa Beach, where he is living alone for the first time. When asked about the challenges of relocating to Southern California and the NHL during a pandemic, Byfield said cooking and cleaning were sometimes uncharted territory for him.

Yet on the ice, he’s faced few obstacles he was unable to surmount. As he worked on his game and became more assertive, he turned his minus-15 rating around by finishing with a plus-9 rating and nine points across his last dozen games with Ontario Reign. In prior seasons, 18-year-olds were not even eligible to play in the AHL – players coming from Europe are typically eligible at 19 and North American prospects gain eligibility at 20 – but Byfield adapted swiftly after the OHL canceled its season.

“I’ve just tried to improve a lot over the past couple years, really trying to fine-tune my game and be an every-situation player,” Byfield said. “There are quite a few elements that I still need to improve on, but I think my strong suits right now are my skating, for a big guy, and my vision out there. I usually like to find my teammates out there before I take a shot.”

At 6-foot-4, Byfield has continued to work on his physique and aggressiveness. Known for his mobility, vision and hands, the focus of his development during his time with the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves as well as the Reign has been on assertiveness and play without the puck. Byfield said his defensive game was where he made the most progress both in his final year of junior hockey and his first minor pro season.

“It’s become a little more compact and a little bit more controlled,” Byfield said. “I’m not always just running around the ice and trying to get the puck back for my team, but more just picking up my guy and staying in my spot, being close to the boards for the puck and always being open.”

With nine games left in the Kings’ season, it seems highly unlikely that Byfield will play in all of them. He can play up to seven games before a season comes off his entry-level contract, a situation the Kings seem certain to avoid.

Earlier this season, the Kings brought up another top prospect, winger Arthur Kaliyev, for just one game despite his scoring his first career goal in his debut. He and Byfield developed some chemistry in Ontario, offering a glimpse of a promising future for the Kings.

Byfield also skated on a Reign line with 2020 World Juniors golden goal-scorer Akil Thomas and former Ducks winger Devante Smith-Pelly, forming the first all Black line in pro hockey since the 1940s.

Regardless of how his first handful of games go, Byfield will persist in chiseling himself into the complete package at the sport’s very highest level.

“The grind never stops,” Byfield said. “I just want to keep getting better.”

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Ducks say Hampus Lindholm might miss rest of season

The medical news was bad for the Ducks before they took the ice to face the Sharks on Monday night at SAP Center in San Jose. General Manager Bob Murray revealed defenseman Hampus Lindholm probably will be sidelined for the rest of the season because of a fractured wrist.

“If he’s OK to play the last week of the year, I doubt I will allow that to happen,” Murray said before the Ducks’ 4-0 victory over the Sharks. “We’re going to know more next week. There’s still a little pain with a certain motion, the downward motion, where that little chip is out of his bone.

“There’s an old chip from an injury a while ago and where it is it’s a tough place to heal. I’d love to get our full defense playing, don’t get me wrong, but you’ve got to put your eyes in the right direction if it comes to the last week of the year.

“Long-winded there, but I don’t know if you’re going to see him.”

Lindholm was hurt during a Feb. 27 game against the Vegas Golden Knights and the original estimate was that he would be sidelined for up to six weeks. He sat out Monday for a 21st game. Saturday marks seven weeks since he was injured during an overtime loss to Vegas.

He had two goals and four assists in 18 games before he was hurt.

Lindholm’s absence has sent a ripple effect through the Ducks’ defense corps, opening an opportunity for rookie Jamie Drysdale to make his NHL debut after a strong start to the season with the San Diego Gulls of the AHL. It also figures to give newly acquired defenseman Haydn Fleury a chance to play big minutes.

“With every injury, as tough as it is for the team, we also have to look at it as an opportunity for people to grow, get extra reps, and that’s going to bode well for Haydn, for sure,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said when asked how he might fill the void for the rest of the season.

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Kings trade Jeff Carter to Penguins for pair of draft picks

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Kings traded forward Jeff Carter to the Pittsburgh Penguins late Sunday night for a pair of conditional draft picks.

Kings Vice President and General Manager Rob Blake said the franchise will have a conditional third-round selection in the 2022 NHL draft and a conditional fourth-round selection in the 2023 draft. Pittsburgh GM Ron Hextall spent seven seasons with the Kings as assistant general manager, including when they won their first Stanley Cup in 2012.

Carter has played 16 years in the NHL with the last nine-plus seasons coming with the Kings, who he helped to a pair of Stanley Cup titles. The 36-year old forward was acquired from Columbus during the 2011-12 season. During his time with the the Kings, he led the team in power-play (57) and game-winning goals (44), was second in goals (194), third in points (383) and fourth in assists (189).

In 40 games this season, Carter has eight goals and 11 assists. He leaves Los Angeles tied for 10th in franchise history in goals and first in overtime goals with 11. The Kings are likely to miss the postseason for a third straight season. They have won only three of their last 10 and are six points out of the final playoff spot in the West Division.

Pittsburgh is in third place in the East Division, but just two points behind Washington and the New York Islanders for the lead.

Carter’s departure leaves just four members of the Kings two Stanley Cup teams still with the franchise — captain Anze Kopitar, forward Dustin Brown, defenseman Drew Doughty and goalie Jonathan Quick.

Carter will have one year left on his current contract, with a $5.27 million cap hit entering next season. The Kings will retain half of his salary as part of the conditions of the trade.

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Kings will host meaningful two-game series against Coyotes

While a midseason meeting with the Arizona Coyotes might not normally be a marquee event, the upcoming two-game set with the Kings hosting the Coyotes might be the most critical contests of their season to date.

Having just dropped two straight games and five out of six over all to sixth-place San Jose, the Kings next enter a two-game set with the West’s final playoff team, for now, Arizona.

Should the Kings win both games in regulation, they would be three points behind Arizona in the standings and be well within striking distance of a playoff berth. Kings Coach Todd McLellan has said his team is aware of the standings, but has stayed focused on imminent tasks of preparation and execution.

“This is going to sound very cliché-ish, they’re all important. It doesn’t matter whether the team is next to you in the standings or not,” McLellan said. “When you’re a seven or eight team division, and four are going to make it, every night is a four-point game.”

The downside for the Kings is that they have not won consecutive games since Feb. 24, and have had regulation winning streaks just three times this season (two games twice and one three-game surge). The Kings have also not gotten ideal results from three-point games this year: of their eight games that have reached overtime or a shootout, the Kings have won just two.

The Kings have largely continued to alternate goalies, though Cal Petersen has three wins and four performances with a .940 save percentage or better in his last five appearances. Jonathan Quick has one win in his last five starts, and only one game with a save percentage above .900.

So might McLellan start riding the hot hand more down the stretch?

“We’ve done that in small portions during the year. Sometimes our hand was forced due to injury or illness or COVID,” McLellan said. “Yes, we would like to get into that situation, but when you look at the number of games we play, I’ve said it all along, both of them are important and will continue to be important.”

Arizona had won four of its last five games entering Sunday’s meeting with the Ducks. Prior to that, they weathered a five-game losing streak, and in their one recent loss they surrendered nine goals to the Colorado Avalanche.

With both Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta injured, the Coyotes have been relying on third-string goalie Adin Hill. Hill made his sixth straight start Sunday, having won five of his six previous appearances.

Wingers Phil Kessel and Clayton Keller lead the Coyotes in scoring with 28 points apiece entering Sunday’s action. Kessel has been scorching of late, producing three multi-point efforts in his last five outings, including a hat trick.

Arizona at Kings

When: 7 p.m. Monday/7 p.m. Wednesday

Where: Staples Center (no in-person attendance).

TV/Radio: Bally Sports West//iHeartRadio

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Momentum eludes Kings again with loss to Sharks

Teams make plans and the hockey gods laugh.

A night after they beat the West division’s best team, the Kings stumbled against one of its worst, falling 2-1 to the San Jose Sharks on Monday at SAP Center.

The game saw them earn noticeably more shots on goal, scoring chances and power-play opportunities but still lose, due in large part to two fluky San Jose goals that banked in off Kings players.

“Sometimes it’s not your night yet you put in a pretty good effort,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said.

Reminiscent of a Feb. 27 game against the Minnesota Wild, the Kings saw a number of unusual bounces. Monday, those tough breaks ended up defying the typical barometers of a team’s level of success.

“We’re beyond this game already. We’ll prepare for the next night,” McLellan said.

The Kings had an opportunity to gain ground on fourth-place St. Louis, which lost to the division-leading Vegas Golden Knights on Monday. Instead, they remained five points behind the Blues.

One day after signing a three-year contract extension, defenseman Matt Roy scored his first goal of the season for the Kings, who haven’t won consecutive games since their six-game winning streak ended on Feb. 26. Goalie Jonathan Quick made 21 saves.

Centers Logan Couture and Ryan Donato scored for San Jose. Former Kings goalie Martin Jones was heavily occupied, making 41 saves.

San Jose defenseman Mario Ferraro saved a tying goal as the buzzer loomed when he tied up center Anze Kopitar’s stick at the right post. The Kings struggled with the extra man: they failed to cash in any of their six-on-five opportunities, going 0 for 5 on the power play.

With just more than three minutes left in the game, the Kings buzzed around the San Jose net but a Kopitar shot hit the post and a strong save by Jones on a one-timer preserved San Jose’s edge.

Less than four minutes into the third period, Donato reclaimed the lead for San Jose. He drove wide on the right wing, beating two Kings to the back of the net. He circled looking for a wraparound or a centering pass. He chose the latter option, but his centering attempt caromed in off Quick’s skate anyway.

Donato is the son of former Kings and Ducks forward Ted Donato, who currently coaches Harvard University.

“Positionally we were in the right spots on both of those (San Jose goals),” McLellan said. “It goes off somebody’s skate or leg or chin pad. There’s really nothing we can do about it.”

To start the final frame, the Kings found winger Alex Iafallo alone between the hash marks, only to see him shoot a rolling puck into Jones’ blocker. Winger Andreas Athanasiou then drew a penalty, but their fifth opportunity produced the same result as the previous four.

Apart from a couple of brief stretches, the Kings carried much of the play in the second period.

The Kings found the equalizer with 2:29 left in the second stanza. Center Gabe Vilardi won an offensive zone faceoff cleanly over to right winger Austin Wagner, who moved the puck to Roy for a one-time slap shot that he powered past Jones’ glove for his first goal since Dec. 17, 2019, at Boston.

“There were two areas where we fell short … the power play and faceoffs,” McLellan said. “We could whine about that but yet a faceoff got us our lone goal.”

The Kings had out-shot the Sharks handily and generated numerous rebounds, but mostly fired pucks at the pads of Jones, who has historically been vulnerable high to his glove side. Roy said he lifted the puck in an effort to avoid the San Jose defender attempting to block his shot.

“I was just trying to get it past the guy coming out to block it,” Roy said. “Lucky for us, it went in.”

In the first period, Couture got the Sharks on the board by flashing some pinball skills on the ice 8:22 into the contest. His shot from the left side ricocheted off three Kings – forward Adrian Kempe, Quick and defenseman Kurtis MacDermid – before entering the net.

With approximately 7:30 left in the first period, defenseman Drew Doughty leaned into a one-timer that Jones saved, only to see Doughty draw a high-sticking penalty against winger Timo Meier seconds later.

The Kings did not convert on the power play or the nifty counter-attack that their third line pieced together at even strength.

That was the second of three man-advantage opportunities, none of which the Kings were able to turn into a tally. Feeding that futility were three faceoff losses in the offensive zone to start each power play, part of a broader trend of struggling in the circle for the Kings.

The Kings ended the first period down 1-0, but they did manage a victory in a battle of Kurtises between MacDermid and Sharks winger Kuris Gabriel. It was MacDermid’s third fighting major this season, and the fourth for Gabriel. The Kings have had a fight in four consecutive games.

MacDermid’s spot in the lineup seems firm for now as Olli Maatta (upper-body injury) did not travel to San Jose. The Kings recalled defenseman Austin Strand from the Ontario Reign.

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Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar lead Kings’ rout of slumping Blues

Instead of being forced to play three games in four days, the Kings got a bit of extra rest. That paid off as they rode a fiery first period to a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

The Kings had three injured regulars, one more absence and a bug – not COVID-19, they emphasized – going around their dressing room. But nature intervened when heavy snowfall in Denver stranded the Kings in Colorado, causing their Monday game against St. Louis to be postponed. The Blues, who were 10-2-2 on the road (second in the points and points percentage) before Wednesday, were awaiting the Kings when they returned. The Kings improved to 5-1-1 against St. Louis, which has lost five straight.

“The Colorado trip was hard on us,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “A lot of things happened on that trip with illness, the storm, us not playing very well in Game 1, having to react in Game 2, playing a little bit better but still losing both games, and then spending that extra day didn’t help.”

McLellan praised his leadership group, which organized a brief skate Tuesday despite it being a scheduled day off, and said his team has risen to St. Louis’ level more often than not this season.

Defenseman Drew Doughty, winger Carl Grundstrom and forward Trevor Moore, who also had an assist, scored goals for the Kings. Anze Kopitar had an empty-net goal that traveled the length of the ice and an assist. Forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan, who played his first game since Feb. 18, contributed two assists.

Cal Petersen, who faced nearly 90 shots over two games in Colorado, also got a bit of a breather, facing a more modest total of 20 shots and chipping in with an assist. Jonathan Quick was available to back up Petersen, having recovered from an upper-body injury during the break, while defenseman Olli Maatta exited COVID-19 protocol and skated alongside Sean Walker on Wednesday.

Winger Mike Hoffman tallied for St. Louis. Jordan Binnington started in goal for the Blues, and he allowed three first-period goals that left St. Louis looking up at the Kings all night.

The Kings got going with a power-play goal and a simple recipe: pass, shoot, recover, pass, shoot. With eight players around the net, the Kings dug the puck out of a crowd. Kopitar moved the puck high to an open Doughty, who made no mistake with a shot from between the tops of the faceoff circles.

It was his seventh goal of the season and the Kings’ 26th man-advantage goal in only 28 games. Kopitar’s assist was his 20th power-play point of the season, second-most in the NHL.

A mere 58 seconds later, the Kings’ workman-like line of Moore, Grundstrom and Anderson-Dolan donned their hard hats. A puck that glanced off Grundstrom’s leg and into the corner was centered by his linemates, before he swept it home with a diving effort to end his 14-game goal drought.

“Sometimes things work with combinations of players … they complement each other, they have a tenacity yet a calmness to them that allows them to keep plays alive,” McLellan said, praising the trio’s conditioning on a night when they played more even-strength minutes than any other Kings line.

Their goal prompted a St. Louis timeout just 4:19 into the game.

“Whoever has the best start is usually coming out on top … there was definitely an emphasis from Todd and the coaches to have a quick start,” Anderson-Dolan said.

The timeout settled the Blues to an extent, but it did not prevent a third goal. Again it was the swift, industrious trio converting for the Kings. Anderson-Dolan skated in a hook pattern toward the net before his cross-crease pass banked in off Moore’s skate with 5:49 left in the first period.

Anderson-Dolan now has seven points in as many games this season, and the Kings have won four straight games with him in the lineup.

“I try to focus on what I can control, and that’s how hard you’re working and the details in your game. Tonight the points were there but I didn’t play as well as I wanted to,” Anderson-Dolan said.

There was a frightening instant in the first period when St. Louis defenseman Torey Krug checked Kopitar along the boards. Kopitar’s shoulder struck the glass and his head hit the stanchion. Kopitar did not miss a shift. Krug later fought with winger Andreas Athanasiou in the second period.

The Kings took their first penalty of the game at its midway mark. The Blues had the fifth-ranked power play on the road going into the game and had scored on nine of their previous 22 man-advantage opportunities. But the Kings killed the penalty with aplomb.

It was during a delayed penalty that the Blues got on the board. Hoffman curled toward the blue line and flung the puck through a four-man screen of two Blues and two Kings. Hoffman’s eighth goal of the year with under four minutes to play in the second stanza gave St. Louis some life.

After out-shooting the Blues 9-3 in the first period, the Kings absorbed more of the play in the second. St. Louis had an 11-7 edge in shots and inverted the scoring chances-for percentage from the first period.

The Kings did not allow much of a final push from St. Louis. With 5:30 left, Petersen made an authoritative glove save on defenseman Justin Faulk while fighting hard through a screen by forward David Perron.

The Blues pulled Binnington with 3:45 left to play. But St. Louis was largely limited to perimeter passes and shot attempts.

Kopitar was against the end boards of the defensive zone, but rather than icing the puck he iced the game when his long, high, backhanded flip of the puck ended up in the net for a nearly 200-foot goal with 1:40 left.

PASSING WAYNE

Doughty’s power-play goal was his 64th, passing Wayne Gretzky for ninth place in franchise history. Doughty has played 408 more games for the Kings than The Great One.

POWER PLAY GOAL DREW DOUGHTY 🚨🍀#GoKingsGo | @LAKings pic.twitter.com/wYfS8Pa6ix

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 18, 2021

GRUNDSTROM BURIES IT 🚨🏒

2-0 @LAKings 🍀#GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/5Sl03V42E9

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 18, 2021

SCORE BY MOORE 🚨

Feeling the luck at Staples 🍀🏒#GoKingsGo | @LAKings pic.twitter.com/xr19JjCcUm

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 18, 2021

Hear from Todd McLellan as he wraps up the night at Staples 🎙🏒🍀#GoKingsGo | @LAKings pic.twitter.com/NNwpURx9G1

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 18, 2021

WELCOME BACK JAD 👏@JimFox19 catches up with Jaret Anderson-Dolan postgame ⤵#GoKingsGo | @LAKings pic.twitter.com/Ai8NP6q5ZV

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 18, 2021

From a distance! pic.twitter.com/FmV7JpIdCR

— LA Kings (@LAKings) March 18, 2021

“I thought our line was feelin’ it tonight” 🕺

Trevor Moore chats with the media after tonight’s big win 🏒🥅#GoKingsGo | @LAKings pic.twitter.com/2m1GJODXtO

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) March 18, 2021

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Power-play success is the Kings’ one constant this season

The Kings have had enough of an up-and-down season to give their followers a bout of vertigo. They’ve had a league-best six-game win streak but two slumps that accounted for nine total losses. They have a three-goal comeback victory but three would-be wins squandered in the final minute of regulation. Their one constant has been the power play.

Even as they surrendered five goals through two periods against the Ducks on Monday night, a pair of power-play goals held them in a game in which they were faring poorly at even strength. They rallied to force overtime before losing, 6-5, and now have earned points in 11 of their last 13 games, despite that stretch including a four-game winless stretch and some costly errors.

Their power-play success has been largely unexpected, too, since the Kings finished among the most feeble units in the NHL with the man advantage last season.

Their 17.1 percent conversation rate was the sixth-worst in the league in 2019-20, and that was even after it started to produce more consistently late in the season. In 2021, the Kings are in the top 10 in power-play percentage and rising rapidly. They are in the top five in power-play goals scored, after finishing in a tie for the sixth-least last season.

On the other side of the special teams coin, the Kings have gone from the eighth-worst penalty kill last season to jockeying within or near the top 10 for most of this season.

“We’re making plays. We’re getting good goaltending. Our specialty teams are giving us a boost most nights,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said earlier this season. “Is that surprising? To us no, but maybe to the hockey world a little bit.”

The Kings have scored power-play goals in five consecutive games and have converted a whopping 36.8 percent of their opportunities during that span.

Veterans like winger Dustin Brown, center Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty have been prolific up a man or more. Brown has seven power-play goals, and only Dallas’ Joe Pavelski had more heading into Monday’s games. Brown’s career-best for a full season is 13, back in 2006-07.

Much like Pavelski, Kopitar is capable of playing any role in any area of the ice on the power play. He can play at the top of the umbrella, at either point, in the bumper position, on the wall, or at the net front, and he has done damage all over the offensive zone.

His 18 power-play points this season rank second in the league, and his exploits in the center of the ice have freed Doughty to roam along the wall more for higher-quality shooting opportunities. Doughty, through 24 games, is one shy of his power-play goal total from last season and has already equaled his man-advantage assist mark from all of last year.

Forward Adrian Kempe has carried his talent for zone entries over to this season and also proven dynamic beyond the blue line. With a power-play goal off a one-timer Monday, which was part of his second career hat trick, Kempe has already equaled his power-play point total and exceeded his power-play goal total from last season.

“I’ve been trying to hit the net a lot more than I did last year. I had some good chances last year, but if you don’t hit the net you don’t get that second opportunity,” Kempe said Monday. “This year I’ve also been working on my one-timer a lot.”

Where last season the Kings struggled to find five solid passers who worked well together consistently on the first unit, this season they have not one but two potent units. The two groups give distinct looks to opponents in terms of both entries and formations.

The most productive player who was consistently on the second unit in 2019-20 was defenseman Sean Walker, who produced five power-play points. This season, winger Alex Iafallo already has five, winger Jeff Carter has four, center Gabe Vilardi has three and center Jaret Anderson-Dolan has looked dangerous in limited opportunities as well.

That has been key, especially early in the season when penalties were up league-wide. Not only has a more efficient power play helped the Kings on the scoreboard, but it also prevented a lackluster group from draining momentum and weighing the team down five-on-five as it did at times last season.

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