LOS ANGELES -- Leave it to the defending Stanley Cup champions to rain on the Kings' parade.
After winning a season-best six consecutive games, including the first three of a wicked four-game home stand, there weren't any conciliatory back slaps Saturday night after the Kings lost to the Boston Bruins, 4-2, at Staples Center.
Asked if a 3-1 mark on the home stand against the Bruins, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks represented a positive sign for a team that has seen more valleys than peaks this season, Kings coach Darryl Sutter didn’t sound satisfied.
“The team dug a hole at home ice early in the year, and we tried to win every game since then, simple,” he said. “That’s a tough task and that’s a big chore.”
About the only shining light came later Saturday night, when the Vancouver Canucks came back from a two-goal deficit to beat the Colorado Avalanche, 3-2, and keep the Kings in eighth place in the Western Conference standings with seven games remaining.
The power play was the biggest culprit against Boston. Not only did the Kings fail to score on all four man-advantage situations, but they allowed a short-handed goal in the second period, just the second given up this season.
The play was set in motion when defenseman Drew Doughty, the highest-paid player on the Kings, turned the puck over in his defensive zone, leading to a second-chance goal by Patrice Bergeron after Jonathan Quick made a dazzling save on Brad Marchand.
“Drew has got to expect that pressure there,” Sutter said.
After the Kings tied the score later in the period on the second goal of the season by fourth-line center Colin Fraser, another poor decision by a defenseman led to the second goal by the Bruins. Milan Lucic carried the puck into the offensive zone, but Rob Scuderi backed off before Lucic released a shot from the faceoff circle that got through the pads of Quick for a 2-1 lead.
“I think Robby was playing goalie too there,” Sutter said. “He’s got to get his stick out and control the lane a little bit better.”
Even after the Bruins increased their lead to 3-1 early in the third period, the Kings didn’t wilt, cutting the deficit back to one on a goal by rookie defenseman Slava Voynov with 5:14 remaining. About a minute later, the Kings went on power play No. 4 when Jordan Caron was whistled for high sticking, but they managed only one shot on net and that came from 42 feet away.
After the man-advantage expired, the Kings pulled Quick with about a minute remaining and Jeff Carter put two close-range shots on Boston goalie Tim Thomas, who managed to get in the way of both and clear the puck from the crease. Just to add salt to the wounds, the Bruins scored into the empty net with one second remaining.
Dustin Brown said he liked the way the Kings played with desperation once the goalie was pulled, but thought they could have done more on the previous power play.
“Our power play needs to be a lot better in that crunch time,” he said.
So, the Kings head on the road for four games. Their first stop will be Monday night against the Canucks, who lost to the Bruins in last season’s Stanley Cup final.
“We’ve got seven games left and we’ve got to win them all,” Brown said. “That’s our attitude.”