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Monday, March 7, 2011
Kings: Too much pulp, not enough juice

By Dan Arritt



LOS ANGELES -- Maybe the Kings should just decline the penalty next time.

After finishing 0 for 6 with the man advantage two days earlier in a loss to Vancouver, the Kings took another step back Monday night against the Dallas Stars, allowing a game-tying short-handed goal in the third period.

That allowed the game to move into overtime, where Brenden Morrow scored 38 seconds in, lifting the Stars to a 4-3 victory at Staples Center. It was the first time in 20 games this season that the Kings lost after leading after two periods.

“When you give up a short-handed goal, that’s disappointing,” said Kings coach Terry Murray.

The Kings were 0 for 4 on the power play against Dallas, including a five-minute stretch that began late in the first period and carried into the second after Steve Ott speared Kyle Clifford with his stick.

The Kings still had 2:45 left on the penalty when the second period began but were out-shot during that stretch, 2-0. They went back on the man advantage 15 seconds later and still couldn’t score.

All appeared forgiven after Clifford scored 2:41 into the third period to give the Kings a 3-2 lead, and the Kings were in even better shape when Stephane Robidad went off for hooking Alexei Ponikarovsky 86 seconds later.

But the momentum changed in the blink of an eye when Jamie Benn stole a pass from Kings defenseman Drew Doughty near the blue line and raced to the Kings net on a breakaway. He made one move and slid the puck past goalie Jonathan Bernier, tying the score with 14:40 remaining in the game.

“That’s over-handling the puck and not doing the right things at the right time,” Murray said.

Anze Kopitar, one of the main playmakers on the power-play unit, seemed mystified as to why the power play has struggled the last two games.

“Maybe trying too much now, instead of just simplifying things,” he said. “It certainly hasn’t been a boost of confidence and a boost of momentum in our game.”

Justin Williams, whose 21st goal of the season gave the Kings a 2-1 lead in the second period, was also at a loss for a solution.

“If I could pinpoint this, I’d nip it in the bud right away,” he said. “We need to get better…Maybe not be so tentative out there.”

Murray said of the unit has struggled with the basics.

“Just getting the group set up in the right positions and buying a little bit of time to make two or three passes,” he said. “That needs to be addressed and hopefully we can get things going the next game [Wednesday] in Detroit.”