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Kings' scoring woes continue in 4-1 loss to the Penguins

KINGS

Pittsburgh overpowers the Kings with a three-goal first period. L.A. has three goals in its last five games, all from Anze Kopitar.

January 30, 2014|By Lisa Dillman

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The Sid and Scud show was practically hijacked at Staples Center by a man put on waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes last March.

It was a lively performance from forward Jussi Jokinen, who had a hand in the first three Pittsburgh goals — one goal and two assists in the Penguins' 4-1 win over the Kings on Thursday night. Penguins star Sidney Crosby had one assist and goalie Jeff Zatkoff, a Kings draft pick in 2006 and a fixture for them in the American Hockey League for parts of four seasons, got the win.

The Kings are staggering toward the now-welcome Olympic break in sight with one win in eight games. They hardly appeared energized by the challenge of a rare Los Angeles appearance by Crosby, who was playing at Staples Center for only the third time in his impressive career.

BOX SCORE: Pittsburgh 4, Kings 1

Their offense has slowed to a trickle, namely only Anze Kopitar. The Kings center had the lone goal against the Penguins. They've scored three goals in their last five games, all by Kopitar.

"It's got to come from in here," Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. "Nobody's coming in. We've got everybody here. You've got to provide that spark on your own. If not, then they've got to make some changes."

Whether that could happen before the Olympic break is unclear. But the mix has been off since Christmas and the mood in the room has been increasingly grim.

Greene, one of the valued team leaders with a strong voice, was asked to be more specific about what he meant and he complied.

"Personnel," he said. "That's it. We've got to get the job done. If you don't have the right mix, you're not getting the job done, they'll find somebody that can."

This time, the damage was inflicted early. Kings fans barely had time to settle into their seats to gaze longingly at the sorely missed defenseman Rob Scuderi on the Penguins' bench before Jokinen set up the Evgeni Malkin with a nifty behind-the-back pass. That came 57 seconds into the game, making it 1-0.

Scuderi, who rejoined the Penguins as a free agent in the summer, was one of the first big losses for the Kings from their 2012 Stanley Cup team.

After one period, Kings starting goalie Jonathan Quick was gone, having given up three goals on the Penguins' first five shots, including goals on consecutive shots. To be fair, the second and third goals were on the power play, one coming five-on-three and the other five-on-four.

Jokinen scored the latter of the power-play goals, beating Quick up high on the glove side to make it 3-1. Quick had started 13 of 14 games since he returned to action following his long injury layoff.

The one game rookie goalie Martin Jones started in that stretch was at Columbus on Jan. 21, and Kings Coach Darryl Sutter wasn't pleased by a soft goal he allowed in that game from a sharp angle.

Jones didn't give up a goal close to that one on Thursday but he didn't look quite set when Penguins forward Tanner Glass beat him with a backhander from the right circle to make it 4-1 at 11:44 of the second period.

That drained the energy from the building and the Kings didn't seem to regain their jump until the third period, in which they outshot the Penguins, 12-3.

But Zatkoff, who is now 9-2-1 for the Penguins, looked increasingly comfortable by the time the Kings responded. There is a reason he is on a 9-0-1 run.

"I owe a lot to them … things didn't work out here and I got a fresh start in Pittsburgh," said Zatkoff, who faced 31 shots. "This one means a little extra something just playing against some of the guys you know."

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Twitter: @reallisa

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