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ATLANTA 7, KINGS 6 (SO)

Kings come up short again

For the second game in a row, they rally to force game into overtime before losing in the shootout.

February 17, 2009|Billy Witz

And for their next act. . . .

The Kings again crawled out of a hole of their own making Monday, once more getting a last-second tying goal to send a game into overtime. But just as happened Saturday against Edmonton, the Kings skated off the Staples Center ice with a shootout loss, 7-6, to Atlanta.

Anze Kopitar blasted the puck past Johan Hedberg with five seconds left to send the game into overtime, capping a rally from a three-goal deficit in the final 13 minutes.

After overtime, Kopitar scored to open the shootout, but they couldn't put another puck past Hedberg. Then Vyacheslav Kozlov tied it in the second round for Atlanta, and Erik Christensen won it in the fourth round.

The Kings suffered from a slow start for the second consecutive game. And like Saturday, when they fell behind by two goals in the first period, the Kings fell behind by three against Atlanta.

It's hard to imagine the Thrashers sneaking up on the Kings, seeing as many of them watched Atlanta score eight goals against the Ducks the night before. Ilya Kovalchuk, who scored three goals against Anaheim, got two against the Kings.

The subject of a quick start was addressed by Coach Terry Murray beforehand. But it wasn't long before Jonathan Quick looked like Jean-Sebastien Giguere -- heading to the bench less than 13 minutes into the game after giving up three goals.

Erik Ersberg, who hadn't played since Jan. 17, replaced him. But the Kings' troubles went far beyond goaltending.

"We've got to play a full 60 minutes," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "At this point in the year, it's unacceptable not to be ready right from the get-go. It comes to personal accountability.

"If you look at the goals, except for the five one three, they're individual mistakes -- missing checks -- that's being professional. You've got to be prepared to play and be accountable.

"In the slot coverage, at the blue line, we're giving teams too much ice. We're a much stingier team than that. That's how we have to play."

The Kings had some good fortune in coming back. Ersberg made two fine saves to thwart short-handed goals by Atlanta, and the Kings got a pair of goals that weren't drawn up on the dry-erase board.

One was a pass that inadvertently went off the skate of Alexander Frolov in the second period, and a third-period shot by Denis Gauthier that went in off the back of Atlanta's Christensen. It was Gauthier's first goal in 124 games.

"It doesn't matter how you score the goals," Kings center Jarrett Stoll said. "It's battling, it's getting to the net -- if it goes off your butt and in, it doesn't matter how it goes in."

The rest of the Kings scoring came via the power play, of which they had plenty of opportunities. Eight penalties gave the Kings a man-advantage, including a delay-of-game call on Ron Hainsey when he lifted a pass over the plexiglass with 1:27 to play.

With a two-man advantage, the Kings didn't get too many chances, but when the puck was fed to Kopitar at the right point, he ripped a shot into the net.

Though they were frustrated with the slow start, the Kings seemed to prefer to look at the comeback as one point being better than none.

"At this point of the year, you're battling for every point," Brown said. "The two points we've gotten the last two games could be the difference in getting into the playoffs."

But now, sitting in 11th place, five points back of eighth-place Edmonton, they'll be away from home for six of their next seven, beginning Wednesday night in Anaheim.

That's when the Kings will see if their magic act plays on the road.

--

billywitz@yahoo.com

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