LOS ANGELES — The LA Kings couldn't keep the good times rolling, losing 5-2 to the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night at Crypto.com Arena.
Three-point nights from Star's standout forwards Roope Hintz, and Jason Robertson were too much for the Kings, which looked gassed from the start. The Kings could not establish their 1-3-1 defensive system, which had served them so well in the previous two games. Unable to slow Dallas down in the neutral zone, the shots piled up early on Cal Petersen. Dallas finished the first period with 18.
"Put it this way, the start wasn't what we wanted," Todd McLellan said. "If you don't have your legs, you better have your brains, and we had neither. And that makes it a really tough night, and that leads to penalties. The penalty kill didn't get it done. We had it on our tape numerous times and didn't get it out. With that kind of firepower and powerplay, it's going to end up in your net."
Petersen stood tall in the first, allowing just one goal, Hintz's first of the night on the powerplay. The Kings were given life after a fantastic play from Kevin Fiala, which saw him spring Carl Grundstrom on a breakaway before netting the ensuing rebound, tied the game.
That life would soon be sucked out of the Kings, though. Robertson's power play tally nine minutes into the period started a minute-and-a-half onslaught that saw Tyler Seguin double the Star's lead with a nifty curl and drag shot over Petersen's shoulder. And Hintz's second of the game, making the score 4-1 halfway through the second.
"The three goals, bang, bang, bang, really put a dagger in us," said McLellan.
Arthur Kaliyev responded with his second power-play goal in as many games four minutes later, but a late Joe Pavelski power-play tally restored Dallas' three-goal lead.
Neither team found the scoresheet in the second. Dallas was content to ride out their 5-3 lead, defending well and keeping the Kings at arm's length.
McLellan made the surprising decision to change the lineup after two strong performances, option to go with seven forwards and 11 defensemen. Inserting Brandt Clarke on the backend and scratching Brendan Lemieux.
"Well, we decided to go 11 and 7. We wanted to play that," said McLellan. "We wanted to get Clarkie into a game and thought it would be a good idea."
Stringing together consistent performances has been an issue for the Kings this season, but it would be harsh to chalk this loss up to a lack of consistency. Playing a team with Dallas' size and speed on the second night of a back-to-back is always challenging. To Dallas' credit, they took advantage of the Kings.
"You have to give Dallas credit," said McLellan. "They knew we were playing back-to-back, I'm sure they weren't happy with their performance, but they really skated well. They were much quicker and much cleaner than we were. They forced us to play long and waste a lot of energy chasing them all over the place."
The Kings lacked discipline and lackluster penalty kill. Something Philip Danault and Anze Kopitar touched on after the game.
"It definitely got us in trouble right away," said Danault. "We can't do that because we knew they were fresh, they had two days off, and we have to be better and more careful with that. Yeah, they cost us the game."
"Yeah, it kills the flow of the bench and the game," Kopitar said. "We gave up three PK goals today, and that's certainly not going to cut it."
The King's 79.6% penalty kill heading into the Star's game placed them 15th in the league, a respectable placing. However, their 115 penalty minutes give them the second most, an unsustainable total for a team with playoff aspirations.
The Kings will have a chance to regroup Wednesday before playing the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday with an opportunity to climb above .500 again.