Lose one game in the NHL and you can chalk it up to an off night. Lose two in a row, and it could be a trend.
But when you get blown out on consecutive nights?
Well, then it may be time to start worrying.
That's especially true for the streaky Kings. The only other times they have lost two in a row this season, the losses were bunched together during an ugly two-week-long nosedive.
And ugly probably is the best way to describe the Kings' effort Thursday, when they watched the Philadelphia Flyers score three quick second-period goals to turn a tight game into a 7-4 rout before a sellout crowd of 18,118, most of whom had left Staples Center long before the final whistle.
As bad as the loss was, however, the real cause for concern is in how the Kings lost. Consider:
• After giving up three power-play goals at home all season, the Kings gave up two in a 3-minute 17-second span of the second period.
• After giving up six goals in a period and a half while being humiliated in Phoenix on Wednesday, the Kings gave up seven more Thursday. The two-night total of 13 not only marks the most the team has permitted in back-to-back games this season, but it also is more than the Kings had given up in nearly two weeks.
• And while a once-sluggish offense has awakened to score 15 goals in the last four games, that's only allowed the team to break even over that span.
"Certainly two of our ugliest of the year," defenseman Rob Scuderi said. "But we're not making excuses for ourselves."
If the Kings wanted to deflect the blame, fatigue seemed a likely place to point a finger since Thursday's game was the team's fourth in five nights. Asked if that was a factor, Coach Terry Murray answered with a curt "no."
And his players agreed.
"We just allowed too many goals," defenseman Matt Greene said. "I never really want to see it again. But it's over with now. It's not the schedule. It's us."
The Kings started quickly, putting three shots on Philadelphia goalie Michael Leighton in the first 76 seconds. On the fourth one they took a 1-0 lead, with Ryan Smyth collecting a loose puck behind the Flyers net and bouncing it off the skate of Leighton, who was playing for the first time since Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals in June after recovering from back surgery.
But after giving up another first-period goal on Justin Williams' long wrist shot from the right-wing boards at 11:04, Leighton began to get stronger.
The Kings, meanwhile, began to lose a step, as the Flyers rallied twice on first-period scores by Danny Briere and Mike Richards before going in front on goals from Scott Hartnell and Richard in the first 5:11 of the second.
And that's when things really got out of hand.
After Jack Johnson's power-play goal at 8:11 appeared to give the Kings some much-needed — if faint — hope, the Flyers responded with quick power-play goals of their own from Jeff Carter and James Van Riemsdyk, the first coming with the Flyers enjoying a two-man advantage.
Afterward, Murray addressed the team behind closed doors. When they opened, he was intent on looking forward, not back.
"There was no message," he said. "We're going to get back on the ice to practice. That's probably the light at the end of the tunnel for me. That we're going to be home for seven games now and we've got practice time.
"What's important is getting on the ice and reviewing and going through the fundamentals of the game."