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Kings Collapse in Third, Lose 6-0 to Sabres

Tied 0-0, edging the Buffalo Sabres in expected goals and puck possession, nobody saw a 6-0 loss coming.



Things looked good for the Los Angeles Kings heading into the third period. Tied 0-0, edging the Buffalo Sabres in expected goals and puck possession, nobody saw a 6-0 loss coming. Yet, here we are. 

Tage Thompson opened the scoring just 1:21 into the period and the Kings fought back for a little. Until the Sabres potted two goals in 13 seconds, killing the game. After that, the Kings looked like a team that had accepted defeat. They were losing puck battles and races, barely threatening Craig Anderson in Buffalo's net. Three more goals from Buffalo turned the game into a 6-0 massacre in the end.

The first two periods were exactly what the Kings needed. Two low-event, tight-checking periods made it seem as though the Kings had fixed some of their problems. What happened?

Penalties were a big factor in the Kings' collapse. They took six Tuesday nights and three of them ended with the goal in their net. Before the Sabres second and third goals, the Kings looked like the better team 5-on-5, but penalties undid them. After those two goals, again, the Kings looked like they accepted defeat. 

Conceding goals in quick succession has been a problem for the Kings all season, and Todd McLellan touched on it post-game: 

"Responsibility, carelessness, you know the goal they scored right after (Buffalo's second goal) we're on a two-man forecheck and guys lose their man and we talk about it all year. No, I can't explain it."

Thirty-two games into a season, mistakes like that shouldn't be happening so frequently. A loss like Tuesday's wouldn't be a huge problem in isolation, but poor performances like that have become a concerning habit for the Kings. 

I said it after Sunday's game and I'll say it again. Something has to change with this team. Whether that change comes internally or through bringing other faces in, it has to happen. 

The Kings finish their road trip against the Boston Bruins on Thursday before returning home on Saturday.

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