The Los Angeles Kings had been one of the hottest teams in the Western Conference over the past two weeks, winning seven of their last eight games. The Dallas Stars brought them crashing back to earth Thursday night, taking advantage of a lackluster special teams performance by the Kings to cruise to a 5-2 win. For the second straight game, the usually steady goaltending that helped carry Los Angeles to the Stanley Cup last season was less than stellar, as Jonathan Quick allowed five goals on 21 shots.
Coach Darryl Sutter didn’t mince words about Quick’s performance, saying “We didn’t get good enough goaltending tonight,” and adding “If you’re giving up four goals a game, you can’t win.” Give the coach credit for telling it like it is, and for pointing out that the team’s save percentage in the past two games has been downright awful. Quick’s .810 mark last night came on the heels of a 6-4 win over the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday that saw the Kings score five unanswered goals in the late stages of the game. Jonathan Bernier was pulled in that game after giving up three goals on eight shots, and Quick gave up one goal on six shots in relief. For those keeping score at home, that’s a .625 save percentage for Bernier and a .833 mark for Quick. Sutter is right in saying that no team can win with numbers like that, and if the Kings want to get back on the winning track both goaltenders need to step up. If the defense is only letting 14 shots through, then they need to know their netminder can turn at least 12 of them away.
The Kings’ penalty kill struggle Thursday was troubling considering they were a perfect 3-for-3 in each of their two previous games. Jaromir Jagr and Cody Eakin struck on the power play for the Stars, with Kings defenseman Keaton Ellerby in the box for both goals. Since coming to the team from the Florida Panthers, Ellerby has just one assist in 13 games and has seen his playing time take a hit as a result of less than spectacular play.
The one positive for the team in the loss was that Jeff Carter kept his hot streak going, scoring his 12th goal in 12 games. Trevor Lewis also netted his third goal of the season.