A young, inexperienced-looking team held a two-goal lead entering the final 20 minutes and collapsed under the weight of mistakes and gave up four straight goals at Staples Center.
Fast-forward to another figurative test of will and experience: Yet another two-goal lead with one period remaining on another Saturday night, at the same scene where the lead disintegrated.
The difference? Three weeks. And the final result? The Kings defeated the Edmonton Oilers, 4-1, before 16,173 on Patrick O'Sullivan's two goals and one each by Ladislav Nagy and Anze Kopitar, who victimized Oilers goalie Dwayne Roloson with a shot from a sharp angle late in the second period.
The Kings' offense was supplemented by the acrobatic efforts of goalie Jason LaBarbera, who faced 35 shots, including 15 in the final period.
That collective effort pushed the Kings' winning streak to four games -- all with LaBarbera in the net -- and they have won five of their last six. LaBarbera has given up two goals in his last three starts.
This is how far the Kings have come since crumbling against the St. Louis Blues on Oct. 6 in their home opener when they squandered a 3-1 lead entering the third period and lost, 5-3.
"We seem to be clicking as a team right now," LaBarbera said. "We're doing all the little things we're supposed to be doing. It makes a big difference out there when the team, collectively, everybody is on the same page.
"Earlier in the year, we weren't on the same page. When you can make plays, knowing guys are there to back you up, it helps everyone out."
LaBarbera had another unusable word to describe the way the Kings were looking in that time period around the St. Louis game and then settled for another choice.
"I agree, we looked like we were lost, that's a good word," he said. "We looked like we didn't know what we were doing. We just kept at it. The coaches were patient with us. We didn't have confidence. Everyone was struggling at the same time. So no one had confidence, not only in themselves, but as a whole."
Then again, three weeks in the NHL might as well be three months . . . just like one human year is said to be equal to seven dog years. The Kings are exhibit No. 1.
On Oct. 14, they were 1-5-0. Now they have scrambled back to .500 hockey, pulling back to 6-6-0, and are tied with Dallas for first place in the Pacific Division.
"It's amazing how big of a hole 1-5 can feel like," said defenseman Tom Preissing. "But we knew deep down we weren't very far into the season. We were ready to win some games."
So just change the descriptive word from struggling or slumping to surging. Three weeks ago, two weeks ago, nothing was going right for the Kings.
Now even O'Sullivan is scoring on highlight-type plays. His two goals were his second and third of the season and it marked O'Sullivan's first two-goal game in the NHL. The first tied the score, 1-1, at 18:10 of the first period, coming on a two-on-one, when he opted to shoot rather than pass, and his second was a beauty as he spun with the puck and then flipped in a backhander, making it 4-1.
That's the shorthand description.
"I do have a little bit of skill," he said of the second goal, which came at 16:15 of the third. "I know I don't score a whole lot right now. That's basically luck. I missed the first opportunity and was just trying to get it back toward the net and luckily it went in. I've never done that before ever, not even in practice."