The Kings shouldn't write off their 1-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday as the consequence of facing a sharp goaltender for the second straight game.
Cory Schneider gave a fine performance in earning a 20-save shutout in front of a restless crowd at Staples Center. He was agile and patient on the rare opportunities he needed to be, though he wasn't as spectacular as Dallas' Kari Lehtonen was on Thursday in a 40-save masterpiece that was behind the Stars' 2-0 victory over the Kings.
This loss for the Kings (17-12-2) was due more to their own failings than to Schneider's excellence.
They had only one shot on net on three power plays and displayed little grit in the hard-to-score areas. They didn't do enough to test Vancouver's defense, which was stretched by the absence of the suspended Alexander Edler, and their best scoring chances might have been two short-handed efforts by Trevor Lewis on the same penalty in the second period.
"Every team has got good goaltending. This league is all about that. And low-scoring games, 1-0, 3-2, 2-1, whatever," said center Jarret Stoll, who scored the Kings' last goal, at 13:46 of the third period of their 3-2 victory over Phoenix on Tuesday.
"But the bottom line is we've got to be better to score goals, and bear down more. And it's not like we're not getting chances as a team. I think we are. But we can work for more chances and we can bear down when we get those chances."
The Canucks scored the game's only goal at 11:06 of the first period. Center Jordan Schroeder made a long lead pass to winger Mason Raymond, who had sprinted behind defensemen Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin and had no one between him and Jonathan Quick when he slipped the puck through the pads of the Kings' goaltender.
That was it, despite Lewis' short-handed chances — his first shot went wide and Schneider had to block the second one — and two point-blank chances early in the third period by Dustin Penner that were calmly handled by the poised Schneider. The Kings sabotaged their own chances when Justin Williams and Penner took offensive-zone penalties in the third period, and it wouldn't be surprising if Penner's infraction — a boarding penalty on which he drove Chris Tanev's head into the glass — is reviewed by the NHL's Player Safety department for possible supplementary discipline.
Quick stopped 12 shots, which Coach Darryl Sutter described as another solid performance.
"We want the goaltending to be consistent," Sutter said. "That's what you want — your goaltender to keep you in it and give you a chance, and that's what we're getting."
What they're not getting is enough offense to allow them to break free of the pack vying for West playoff spots behind Chicago and the Ducks. Goals weren't plentiful for the Kings last season either, but they battled and used their size and brawn to manufacture what their skill couldn't provide. They're not doing that now.
"Give Schneids and Lehtonen the credit they deserve," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "They played well for their teams the last couple games, but as a group of guys in this room we've got to make it a lot harder on those guys, especially in net.
"I think we had some Grade A scoring chances and their goalie played well. But you see when this team's playing really well on the offensive end of the puck it's generally not the really pretty goals that's making it. A lot of goalies will make that first save. It's getting around the net and pouncing on those loose pucks, and we're not making it hard enough on the opposing team's goaltenders right now."
As a result, they're making it harder on themselves as they approach a five-game trip that begins Monday against league-leading Chicago.
"At this point I don't think you really need to look at the standings," center Anze Kopitar said. "You win a couple, you're in fourth. You lose a couple, you're down to five, six, seven, even.
"It's about us. It's going to be about our game and the way we perform."