Later this season, the Kings will play more meaningful games against the Vegas Golden Knights, perhaps even into the spring.
For now, they will have to stew on a point earned that, by their estimation, maybe wasn’t deserved on this December night. The Kings succumbed to Vegas’ constant attack Thursday night and aided their own demise with a sustained march to the penalty box.
David Perron ended an intriguing matchup of Pacific Division leaders when he wristed the puck into the net via the short side 3 minutes 30 seconds into overtime, handing the Kings a 3-2 loss at Staples Center and extending the Knights’ winning streak to six games. And one got the feeling that even if the Kings had won, they wouldn’t have felt good about it.
“In some ways I don’t even think we deserved a point,” Drew Doughty said. “We’re obviously kind of lucky and happy now that we got it, but that wasn’t a very good performance by us.”
Doughty brought the crowd of 18,230 to a roar with a redirect goal off Jake Muzzin’s shot-pass, tying the score with 4:33 to play in regulation. But the Kings were fortunate to get there following a penalty-filled third period. The Kings put 12 shots on goal in the final 40 minutes of regulation.
“Probably my most disappointing game this year in terms of not trying to establish game plan,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “A lot of frustration toward the referees instead of ourselves.”
The Kings began the third period shorthanded because of an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty assessed against Jonathan Quick at the end of the second period and subsequently killed a two-man advantage and an offensive zone penalty.
But Vegas kept pressing and took a 2-1 lead on Brendan Leipsic’s first goal of the season. Leipsic stuffed in a loose puck after Alex Tuch’s drive to the net.
If not for Doughty’s goal, the Kings would have taken a regulation loss. They are 0-1-1 against the expansion Knights, who sit in first place and figure in the divisional, if not Western Conference race, the rest of the way. Doughty credited them but also sent a message.
“They frustrate you with their forecheck,” he said. “You make turnovers — they get chances that way. But there’s no way they’re going to be a better team than us by the end of the season.”
The game started on an emotional note. One week after the Kings honored Marian Gaborik for his 1,000th game, Dustin Brown received the same recognition in a ceremony that resonated more deeply considering that Brown played his first 1,000 with the Kings.
Brown received a standing ovation and thanked numerous people in the organization. He also jokingly thanked the trainers for putting up with him all these years before he ended his speech by saying, “Let’s win a hockey game now.”
His teammates took his cue with the game’s first goal, a quick shot by Derek Forbort from about 50 feet out that deflected off the stick of Jonathan Marchessault and barely off Gaborik in front of the net at 8:13 of the first period. Gaborik was credited with his sixth goal.
From there the game continued with a free-flowing tempo and both sides getting chances. Vegas had more possession toward the end of the first period. It held the Kings to three shots in the second period and tied the score on Marchessault’s late goal.
Kevin Gravel made his season debut for the Kings. Kyle Clifford was activated from injured reserve after sitting out three games.