Kings lose in stinker to Flyers, exposing their worrisome issues

In less than 48 hours, the Kings went from the sublime — a dramatic shootout victory over defending Stanley Cup champions Colorado — to the ridiculous, with a lethargic effort in a 4-2 loss to the struggling Philadelphia Flyers at the Crypto.com Arena .

The defenders of kings have too often been turned upside down. Their penalty-killing unit gave up a goal in their 10th straight game, finishing 28th in the league. Her power play was also counted, allowing Noah Cates to complete a comeback from Philadelphia with a long shot that went past a shielded Jonathan Quick at 13:01 of the third period.

The Flyers cemented it with an empty goal, but the three goals they scored on Quick were all high on his glove side (left). He has been winless in his last five starts, having last claimed a win on December 1st. Since then, Phoenix Copley has received the majority of the playing time.

“It is what it is,” said coach Todd McLellan of Quick’s performance. “And whether it’s Jonathan Quick or someone else, that’s how it’s going and we have a lot of faith in him.”

It was worrying. Maybe enough for the Kings to put a goaltender on their shopping list, along with a hefty, left-handed defender.

Inadequate play by the Kings’ special teams and failure to get two passes together early on were also key factors in the loss. “We probably got what we deserved today,” McLellan said.

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick fails to stop a shot by Philadelphia's Scott Laughton in Saturday's first half.

Kings goalie Jonathan Quick fails to stop a shot by Philadelphia’s Scott Laughton in Saturday’s first half.

(Ringo HW Chiu/Associated Press)

No “probably” there. This was a stinker on an occasion where the Kings (21-13-6) needed something far better, something confident and clean and commanding.

Before stumbling on Saturday, the Kings had built a seven-game point streak (6-0-1) that put them within two points of league leaders Vegas. They’re still second, but the gap is now four points. Also, the Kings have played more games than Vegas and more games than the teams behind them, Edmonton, Calgary and Seattle. The Kings’ point percentage of .600 (48 points out of a possible 80) ranked them 13th in the NHL after their loss on Saturday.

“The game was right there. It’s not like we’re going to let it go in the first or the second. We just didn’t get the job done, that was it,” said Anze Kopitar.

There’s a lot of hockey to play; The Kings reach the halfway point of the season on Tuesday when they host Central Division league leaders Dallas. For McLellan, the daily standings matter less than the bigger picture of how the Kings are progressing toward their goal of making the Stanley Cup playoffs this season, not just making the playoffs. This game didn’t advance her.

“We’re still in the process of setting things in motion and we’re trying to keep growing our game. We shrunk a bit tonight. We gave a little back. We all know that,” McLellan said. “But we must get back on the horse and ride it again. If there’s a horse right in front of us, so be it. We need to make sure ours is in good condition and ready to go, and that’s where we are.”

The Kings scored the first goal on Saturday, with Adrian Kempe capitalizing on a five-for-three lead after 9:46 of the first period. Scott Laughton got that for the Flyers at 12:15 during a power play, unleashing a one-timer after being set up by Anaheim Hills’ Cam York.

Kings forward Phillip Danault controls the puck ahead of Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes.

Kings forward Phillip Danault (left) controls the puck in front of Philadelphia Flyers forward Kevin Hayes during Saturday’s second half.

(Ringo HW Chiu/Associated Press)

Phillip Danault gave the Kings a 13-12 lead with a slapshot from the rush and extended his scoring streak to seven games with five goals and nine points in that span. But the Flyers swept past Quick’s left arm at 9:02 of the second period after an Owen Tippett goal and took the lead after a counterattack from Cates’ down-man goal. Travis Konecny ​​sealed it by hitting the empty net with 27 seconds left.

“They have a power play and a shorty,” Kopitar said, “and that was ultimately the difference, which is unfortunate but sometimes it is.”

The loss spoiled defender Alex Edler, who was 1,000. NHL game played in the regular season, a special moment. Players wore special hats that read “1000” during the warm-up, and each player’s locker had a name tag that featured Edler, commemorating the occasion.

“It was a hard-fought game from start to finish. You’ve worked hard. You fought hard. I think they did a little better than us and we came back,” said Edler, who played the first 924 regular-season games of his career with Vancouver before signing with the Kings in 2021 and re-signing this past summer.

“I think we believe in ourselves. We want to be up there. I think at the beginning of the year we were a bit inconsistent. We’ve been better lately. We found our game a little bit more. And we just need to understand how to play to win games.”

The way forward must not involve repeats of lackluster efforts like Saturday’s.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/hockey/story/2022-12-31/kings-lose-philadelphia-flyers-nhl-playoffs Kings lose in stinker to Flyers, exposing their worrisome issues

Emma Bowman

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