Kings defenseman Drew Doughty battles Canucks winger Aaron Volpatti for… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Inevitably, the blue-line burden was always going to be shouldered by the increasingly capable Drew Doughty.
That really was no question once it became clear the Kings would be without defensemen Matt Greene (back surgery) and Willie Mitchell (injured knee) for an extended period.
Doughty is leading the league in minutes played per game (28:41) and logged an impressive 26:45 in a 7-4 loss to the Ducks on Saturday night. His season high was 33:45 in an overtime loss at Edmonton on Jan. 24.
Not only were Mitchell and Greene vital to the penalty-killing effort, but also Mitchell gobbled up heavy minutes, second only to Doughty last season among the Kings, averaging 22:13. Doughty averaged 24:53.
"Those two are two great players and both usually first D pairing out there" on the penalty killing, Doughty said Sunday after practice. "We realize they aren't going to be in the lineup and other guys have got to step up and take over that job. No excuses."
The Kings gave up three power-play goals against the Ducks, managing to kill only one penalty in a wild affair featuring plenty of run-and-gun offense in Anaheim.
"There were teaching moments out there," Doughty said. "There were some positives in the game and some negatives. We've got to take both of those out of there and work on them.... This road trip is huge for us now."
Technically, the trip started Saturday in Anaheim. The Kings were off the ice Monday and traveled to Columbus for the first of four more road games.
When: 4 PST.
Where: Nationwide Arena.
On the air: TV: Fox Sports West; Radio: 1150.
Record vs. Blue Jackets (2011-12): 2-2-0.
Etc: Speaking of ice time, former Kings defenseman Jack Johnson logged a whopping 34:59 for the Blue Jackets, a franchise record, against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.