The Los Angeles Kings clawed back to earn a point against the Seattle Kraken, but they still disappointed on their road trip.
The Kings finished 1-2-1 and have just one win against the Pacific Division. Consistently losing within your division is a great way to miss the playoffs and the Kings need to figure out how to win these games.
They also need to figure out how to get their offense going again. Outside of the Trevor Moore-Phil Danault-Viktor Arvidsson line, the Kings have been anemic in the last three games.
Todd McLellan tried to make changes both before and during the game, but neither worked. McLellan started the game with Blake Lizotte and Arthur Kaliyev moved up onto the third line with Kevin Fiala. While Rasmus Kupari and Carl Grundstrom moved down to the fourth line with Jaret Anderson-Dolan.
This didn't last long though. To start the second period, McLellan reunited Fiala with Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe on the first line. Just as it did early in the season, this combination failed to impress. These three finished with zero points, a 22.23% expected goals percentage, 40.0% Corsi and 44.4% Fenwick. They didn't create chances and didn't dominate possession. This line just doesn't work.
With the switch on the first line, Gabe Vilardi moved back to the third line with Blake Lizotte and Arthur Kaliyev. This line also didn't do much, with no points and a 23.4% expected goals percentage. Their possession numbers looked better with 70% Corsi and 50% Fenwick, but possession for possession's sake isn't enough.
There's no question changes had to be made upfront, but these were not the right ones. We know Fiala with Kopitar and Kempe doesn't work. While putting Vilardi and Kaliyev, two shooters who aren't exceptional skaters together doesn't make sense on paper. And it didn't work on the ice either.
The other lineup change was Jacob Moverare coming in for an injured Sean Durzi. Alex Edler replaced Durzi next to Matt Roy, and Moverare slotted in next to Sean Walker. Like the new third line, their possession numbers looked good, but they were heavily out-chanced. McLellan liked what he saw from Moverare though and mentioned how nice it was to have three left shots and three right shots on the blue line.
"We got exactly what we thought we would get," McLellan said of Moverare's game. "Simple plays, well-defended blocking shots. It was kind of nice to have a righty and a lefty on all of the pairings tonight. He gave us what was needed, he was well prepared and ready to go."
McLellan also mentioned that Durzi is just day-to-day, and the expectation is he'll play on Tuesday.
"If he's day-to-day we think we'll have him next game," said McLellan. "We don't know how he'll feel tomorrow, but we don't think his injury is major."
Given McLellan's comments about having players on their strong hands and Durzi's presumed availability, a Moverare-Durzi pairing seems probable Tuesday. Especially given Walker's struggles in the last two games.
One big positive from Saturday's game was Cal Petersen. The Kings need Petersen to step up and this week was a big move in the right direction. He'll want Seattle's second goal back, getting beat five-hole by Daniel Sprong, but was solid otherwise. He finished with 26 saves on 29 shots and -0.5 goals saved above expected. Petersen came up with some big saves and gave his team a chance to win. Given the team's goaltending struggles this season, that's all you can ask of Petersen.
"I thought both goalies played well," said McLellan. "Cal made some tremendous saves, (Martin) Jones kept them in it when mistakes went against them. So both goalies did what they had to do. That's why the game went to overtime, in a low-scoring hard-fought match."
The LA Kings return to Crypto.com Arena Tuesday against the New York Rangers.