The Los Angeles Kings are succeeding in limiting their opponents offensively. Their own offense just hasn't been good enough to take full advantage.
They'll look to break through Saturday night when they visit the Anaheim Ducks, who struggled to shut down their Southern California rivals while losing five of six meetings last season.
The Kings (2-2-2) started off this season with two regulation losses, outscored 8-3 in those games. They've allowed just six regulation goals in four contests since, but three of those games have gone to at least overtime.
Los Angeles ranks 28th in the league with 1.83 goals per game, and only two players - Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter - have scored more than once.
Thursday's 2-1 shootout loss to Nashville marked the third time the Kings have been limited to one goal. They let the Predators escape with a victory despite holding them to 11 shots during regulation.
"I'd take that game most nights," said captain Dustin Brown, who scored his first goal. "Limited them to less than 15 shots, not too many grade-A scoring chances. I think we played the first two periods almost entirely in their zone. We've just got to figure out some ways to score goals."
So far, the power play hasn't often been one of those ways. Brown's goal came on the man advantage, but Los Angeles missed five other chances against Nashville and still ranks last in the NHL with goals on 2 of 33 opportunities (6.1 percent).
"I'd like to score more than one goal," coach Darryl Sutter told the team's official website. "You have to bear down on the opportunities. The ones you get, you don't get too many. ... They probably only had three or four opportunities to score. We probably had 10. We're still not getting that goal or the players that we need to count on to score the goal."
The Ducks (4-1-1) got two goals from 22-year-old Kyle Palmieri and three assists from 42-year-old Teemu Selanne in a 3-1 home win against Minnesota on Friday. Aside from a 5-0 loss to Vancouver in the home opener, coach Bruce Boudreau credits consistency for Anaheim's strong start.
"To have to be good, the good teams do that not once in a while but they do that all time, and we would like to be thought of that way," Boudreau told the team's official website. "But we have to prove it."
Leading the Ducks with eight points, Selanne continues to play at a high level 20 years after his 76-goal rookie season.
"He's so smart," Boudreau said. "You can take age and that will affect your legs and things, but it doesn't affect your head. He's as smart as they come. He has tremendous vision. He always has. When he's on top of his game, even now, and the other guys are going with him, he'll find them and he'll make great plays."
Another aging Ducks veteran - 35-year-old defenseman Toni Lydman - was scratched from Friday's game in favor of Sami Vatanen. Boudreau is trying to limit Lydman's participation in back-to-back games.
Goalie Jonas Hiller also figures to be back on the ice Saturday after backup Viktor Fasth beat the Wild. If so, Hiller will try to stifle a Kings team that totaled 18 goals in going 5-1-0 versus Anaheim last season.
Mike Richards played in five of those games - all victories - and led the Kings with five goals and eight points. He has yet to score a goal this season.