Heading into Thursday night’s game, the Pittsburgh Penguins (7-2-2) were soaring after winning four straight games. At the same time, the Los Angeles Kings were coming in with a three-game losing streak and had failed to score in any of those games.
Sidney Crosby jump started Pittsburgh’s offense in the first period and got it going again in the third period, but it wasn’t enough, and the Penguins lost 3-2 to the Kings in overtime. Los Angeles was able to end its scoring drought when Trevor Lewis scored his first goal of the season in the second period to tie the game up at 1-1.
Early in the third period, Matt Greene was able to net his first goal of the season as well, and, finally, Nic Dowd got the overtime game-winner while streaking down the center of the ice untouched.
One major factor that kept the Penguins from winning was that Los Angeles was able to control the game through its defense. All the paired lines put out on the ice by the Kings did a great job of not only matching up against the potent Pittsburgh offense but also controlling the game’s tempo.
Through the first two periods, the Penguins could only collect 11 shots, which only further enforces the fact that Los Angeles came out with a strong defensive mindset and didn’t stray from the game plan all game.
Just Not Enough
Despite taking the ‘L,’ the Penguins weren’t significantly outplayed in Thursday’s game. Both teams were unable to get a goal on three power-play chances, and Pittsburgh didn’t turn the puck over a whole lot.
However, the Kings played a much more physical game and played with more urgency. While it wasn’t a total loss considering the Penguins were able to get at least one point, they were still exposed and gave other teams an idea of the formula needed to take down the defending Stanley Cup champions.
One aspect where the Kings held a significant advantage was in hits. Of course, the Penguins have a very sleek, elusive and fast mindset when playing hockey. But, players were caught far too often with their heads down or got pressured into the boards.
The Kings played a very smart style of hockey against the Penguins, and a lot of it had to do with Los Angeles goalie Peter Budaj making some spectacular saves. Without his play, the outcome of this game would, most likely, have been very different.
Aside from Crosby, no one else for the Penguins was really able to put it all together on offense. Again, most of this was due to the fact that Los Angeles’ defense was incredibly prepared to take on one of the NHL’s best offenses.
Back to the Drawing Board
Thursday, the Penguins had yet another second-period struggle. For some odd reason this season, the Penguins have had issues finding their stride in the middle period.
However, head coach Mike Sullivan didn’t sound overly disappointed in his team’s play following its loss. Typically after a loss, Sullivan isn’t a happy camper. But Thursday night he said he was still impressed with the fact that his team would be leaving Los Angeles with at least one point.
There’s been no word as of yet regarding who will start in net when Pittsburgh plays its final road game of the trip against the San Jose Sharks. While Marc-Andre Fleury had a decent game against the Kings, it would come as no surprise if Matt Murray gets his second start of the season.
The last game of the road trip will conclude when the Penguins go on to play their second Stanley Cup Final rematch of the season when they face the San Jose Sharks (the Penguins won the first game this season in PPG Paints Arena). The game will be played Saturday night at 10:30 p.m. EDT.
Image credit: Jae C. Hong/AP Photo