Kings Can’t Hold a Lead, Fall 4-3 to Devils
Holding a lead is still an issue for this team.
The Los Angeles Kings were able to pick up a point, but not a win on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils. Holding a lead is still an issue for this team.
It was announced before the game that forward Trevor Moore would miss the game due to an upper-body injury. Because of this, Kevin Fiala moved into Moore's spot, Gabe Vilardi moved onto the fourth line and Jaret Anderson-Dolan returned to the fourth line.
Fiala was a big spark for the second line and his chemistry with Viktor Arvidsson was evident early.
It was evident early that Thursday's game would be more wide open than Tuesday's against the Minnesota Wild. There was a more back-and-forth, less structured feel to the game.
The Kings took advantage of this early on, with Anze Kopitar creeping behind the Devils' defense and latch onto a Sean Durzi homerun pass. Kopitar then finished on the breakaway with another forehand to backhand five-hole move.
The Devils were loss with the puck during the first 20 minutes, giving the Kings several offensive opportunities.
The Kings extended their lead to two just over 11 minutes into the period. After Arvidsson missed a backdoor feed from Fiala on a two-on-one, they got another two-on-one 20 seconds later.
Fiala took the shot this time. His stick snapped but the puck rebounded off Vitek Vanecek's pad straight to Arvidsson who finished into an empty net.
Tobias Bjornfot added a highlight to his reel. He aggressively stepped up at the defensive blue line and put a shoulder into Miles Wood. Bjornfot went down with Wood, but showed a physical side we haven't seen in the past.
The second frame didn't provide the end-to-end action the first did. It was a more structured period from both teams and one the Devils largely controlled.
After their game against the Arizona Coyotes, head coach Todd McLellan mentioned the teams inability to play with a lead, and that showed up in the second.
Despite a subpar period, the Kings only allowed one goal.
A miscue behind the net from Sean Walker ended with Tomas Tatar burying in front to cut the lead in half.
Still with the lead heading into the third, it's up to the Kings to lock the game down, and possibly get an insurance goal.
The Devils tied the game just over two minutes into the period as they continued to poor on the pressure early on.
The Kings were able to grow back into the game after the goal and it returned to a more back-and-forth period.
After killing off an offensive-zone penalty. The Kings got their breakthrough.
After picking up the puck behind the net, Kopitar fed Sean Durzi in the middle who one-timed the puck past Vanecek to put the Kings up one.
The Kings then had to kill another penalty, with Gabe Vilardi being called for a trip at center ice.
The Kings were able to kill that penalty off too, but the Devils scored with 37.7 seconds left with the net empty to tie the game at three.
The Devils controlled the early parts of the overtime, with Jack Hughes and Nico Hischier, in particular, terrorizing the Kings.
The Kings were able to gain some control, but never fully threatened the Devils net in overtime.
Then, 2:30 into overtime, Mercer grabbed his second of the night, deflecting a Dougie Hamilton pass between Pheonix Copley's legs from the low slot.
McLellan won't be happy with his team blowing two leads. But, they'll have to forget about it quickly, as they take on the New York Islanders on Friday.