It slipped away the way the majority of the games on this nine-game winless streak have: By degrees, after keeping it close late enough to think there was a chance for a different outcome, but losing it early enough to allow plenty of time for shattered confidence and self-loathing.
The Islanders lost 3-0 in Los Angeles Saturday night, after playing a good but scoreless first period, after cracking for a goal midway through the second on a play their key defenseman and their goalie could have prevented, after giving up the deflating insurance goal with 10 minutes left in the third.
It was only ever in doubt in theory. Their ninth consecutive game without a win (0-7-2) was also their ninth regulation loss in a row on the road. The external and intuitive pressure for some kind of change mounts, the story remains the same.
"It's a broken record right now," Matt Carkner said, not referring to our game recaps.
At least a retro night, as the Kings honored Larry Murphy, meant a momentary return to the colors the Kings embraced for their first two decades before banal trendiness took over.
Notes of General Ennui
- Really, it's amazing that this team can't catch a single winning break, but that LP skips on nightly basis too. Tonight it was two goal posts with the game tied or close, with Josh Bailey breaking free to backhand a shot (while being high-sticked) off the post in Michael Grabner-like fashion. Grabner himself was the third Islander to whiff on a great chance just before the Kings opened scoring.
- Notably, Jack Capuano broke up the Andrew MacDonald / Travis Hamonic defensive pair, finally, putting Hamonic with Calvin de Haan and MacDonald with Thomas Hickey. Probably a sign of desperation -- and typically too-late experimentation -- rather than them identifying an issue though.
- The Isles played well in the first, okay in the second, and passably in the third. Anze Kopitar broke in off a line change in the second period to make a good move on Hamonic cutting to the slot, then lifting a shot high over Kevin Poulin. The Kings were able to leverage their talent and opportunity into a second goal on a Dustin Brown wraparound midway through the third period. Tyler Toffoli scored into the empty net to seal it.
- The Kings penalty kill is excellent, but still ... once again the Visnovsky-less power play did not help matters.
- Rookie goalie Martin Jones started for L.A., an expected start that became a surprise start when Ben Scrivens did the traditional starter routines. Darryl Sutter didn't want to talk about the goaltending.
- Jones played well, earned the shutout with seven saves in the first, but was only required to make nine further saves through the rest of the game. Nine. Kings outshot the Isles 24-16.
- Brock Nelson, back in the lineup in Peter Regin's place, had two of those shots. Was just 3-for-12 on faceoffs though, losing lots to Kopitar and Jarret Stoll.
- The first line again created the most threatening chances but again came up short. John Tavares and Thomas Vanek each took minor penalties, however, and the whole line got too cute too often. Bad trends for each.
- "We played well for 30 minutes and then kind of shot ourselves in the foot a little bit, but we were right in the game," Kyle Okposo said. "We've got to find a way to win because this is unacceptable."
Yep. But also now it's just about too late.