Inconsistency once again in Los Angeles. The LA Kings cannot put together a string of consistent performances and Sunday night's loss was another dip in their roller-coaster season.
The Kings had a terrible first period, where they couldn't connect on passes, lost the physical battle and were outshot 19-8 by the Ottawa Senators. They looked sluggish and were lucky to only be down one goal.
"Our passing was atrocious (in the first period)," said Todd McLellan. "But our thought process into where we were sending the pucks and passing was even worse. So, you combine those two things together, we were making it fairly easy on them. They have some structure and a system that you can't be stubborn and play through. You have to play behind it a little bit and I thought we did that in the second and third."
The Kings clawed back in the second period thanks to two Arthur Kaliyev power-play goals. These two power-play goals from LA and one from Ottawa in the second left the teams tied heading into the third. After a scoreless third period, the teams went to overtime where Claude Giroux snuck in behind Drew Doughty and finished the game just 20 seconds into overtime.
The Kings' "second" unit was one big positive from this game and showed off Kaliyev's best asset, his shot. After a broken play, Viktor Arvidsson fed Kaliyev in the slot and he fired the puck of Cam Talbot's shoulder for his first goal. And for his second goal, Kaliyev stepped off the boards and blew a puck past Talbot.
Kaliyev's goals were proof of his high-end shot, but they also showed off the overall quality of the LA Kings second power-play unit. Both goals came directly after the Kings, specifically Phil Danault and Trevor Moore, denied Ottawa a clearance. Recently both players and McLellan have talked about this unit's quick puck movement. While that was on display, it was their work ethic and puck retrieval skills that shined through on Sunday.
"Jimmy Hiller's been doing some really good things with our power play," said McLellan. "And the trees starting to bear some fruit, if you well, and guys have to continue. Unless there's a real strong work ethic on it, it doesn't matter who you bring in or what he's trying to do with the group. Our power plays had some good work ethic lately and it's getting rewarded."
The other positive was another strong performance from Jonathan Quick. After a solid game in San Jose Friday, Quick made 36 saves and 1.13 goals saved above expected Sunday. Stability in net would be huge for the Kings, as their goaltending issues have lost them several games this season.
The Kings were without Gabe Vilardi, who missed because of an upper-body injury suffered Friday against the San Jose Sharks. He was replaced by Lias Andersson who had the difficult task of drawing into the lineup after spending a lengthy period of time in the press box.
"I would say the same thing for Lias as I did for JAD (Jaret Anderson-Dolan), said McLellan. "It's a tough job to do, but as you grow older in your career and you settle in, that could be your role and you have to be ready to go. Lias did a good job tonight. We have expectations for Lias, we've seen him enough. Our expectations for him will never be greater than the ones he has for himself. He's a good man that way and he expects a lot from himself so we won't ever over-expect for him. He drives himself."
There were positives from Sunday's loss. But, at this point in the season and given the King's expectations for themselves. Taking positives from a loss simply isn't good enough. The team is still looking for consistency and they need to find it fast.