Lost amid the palm trees, inline skaters, 54,099 fans and KISS guitar riffs on Saturday night at Dodger Stadium was the fact that, yet again, the Los Angeles Kings goal-scoring well went dry in the Anaheim Ducks’ 3-0 victory despite 36 shots on goal.
It’s part of a larger, troubling trend for the Kings, who have averaged 1.75 goals per game over their last eight games. Granted, they faced four teams in the top 10 in team defense during that stretch – including two games against Anaheim, fifth in the NHL at 2.33 GAA – but from even strength to special teams their goals have been M.I.A. on most nights recently.
They’ve scored more than two goals just four times in their last 17 games. They have just three goals on the power play in their last 31 chances; that special teams failure hurt them in the Stadium Series loss and made the 1-0 Jonathan Quick shutout of Roberto Luongo on Jan. 13 closer than it should have been.
“I think it comes down to bearing down on our chances and finding ways to score goals. I mean, last night we had some pretty good chances, and [Jonas] Hiller made some really good saves, and we also missed some opportunities. Other than the Columbus game, I think we’ve had those really good chances and haven’t really given up all that much. Teams have been finding ways to do what we do sometimes to other teams. That’s find timely goals and find one or two goals and shut the door. It’s about sticking together and just kind of the details of this all.”
To that end, here’s the team PDO (shooting percentage plus save percentage) for the Kings recently, keeping in mind that they’ve only given up more than two goals in four of their last 11 games (via Extra Skater):
Another issue with the Kings during their 0-4-1 skid and 3-5-2 rut overall? Bad starts.
“Yeah, it was tough chasing the lead,” said Coach Darryl Sutter after the loss to the Ducks on Saturday.
The Kings have only trailed after the first 20 minutes in 13 of their 53 games this season, but they’ve done so in three of their last four games. Overall in their last eight games, they’ve been outscored 7-4 in the opening frame.
What’s the solution to the goal-scoring woes? In simplest terms: Getting the power play going. The Kings are 27th in the league at 14.4 percent, following a season that saw them at 10th in the NHL (19.9 percent).
“I think that manifests from your whole game. I think when you have good opportunities and don't score, you've just got to finish those opportunities,” said Sutter on the power play.