Los Angeles Hockey: Johan Hedberg

Kings: Offense looks for answers to scoring lull

October, 25, 2011

LOS ANGELES -- While much of the postgame attention Tuesday night was still being paid to coach Terry Murray and his decision to start backup goalie Jonathan Bernier against the New Jersey Devils, a bigger issue was smoldering beneath the surface.

After shutting out their previous three opponents to set a franchise record for No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick, the Kings were the ones stumped by the dazzling performance of an opposing goalkeeper in a 3-0 loss to the Devils at Staples Center.

Johan Hedberg stopped 31 shots for his 18th career shutout, leaving the Kings with one goal in their last seven periods. After combining for nine goals in the first four games, the top line of Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams and Simon Gagne has gone three straight games without producing a goal.

Kopitar said it’s not for a lack of effort or opportunity.

“It’s one thing not creating chances, it’s another thing to not score goals,” Kopitar said. “I’m sure if we can keep creating, we’re going to break through.”

Gagne did not record a shot on goal against the Devils, Williams had two and Kopitar three, including a loose puck that bounded his way as he stood on the edge of the crease early in the second period. His swipe at the open net was quickly turned away by a swift-moving Hedberg and the Devils went on to score three goals in a five-minute span later in the period.

“I had a couple really good chances, right on the doorstep, and I couldn’t bury it,” Kopitar said. “Those are the chances you have to score on.”

Third-line winger Ethan Moreau said the key to breaking out of the scoring slump is getting back to the basics, relying less on fancy moves in the offensive zone and more of a grind-it-out mentality.

“It’s so hard to create in this league,” he said. “You have to get pucks in deep and you have to forecheck and you have to get to the net. We have to do a lot more than that.”

The Kings leave for Dallas on Wednesday for the start of a three-game road trip Thursday against the Stars. Then it’s on to Phoenix and Colorado for back-to-back games this weekend. All three teams are fellow members of the Western Conference, raising the importance of getting the offense out of its shell.

“We need to go out and get back on track,” said team captain Dustin Brown.

Devils 3, Kings 0 -- By the numbers

October, 25, 2011
Devils, KingsAP Photo/Chris CarlsonKings defenseman Matt Greene skates away in the aftermath of one of the Devils' goals Tuesday.
0 -- Goals scored by the Kings on 31 shots. Devils goaltender Johan Hedberg was perfect in recording his 18th career shutout.

1 -- Number of goals the Kings have scored in two losses to the Devils this season. L.A. managed its lone goal in a 2-1 shootout loss in New Jersey on Oct. 13.

2 -- Goals by Devils center Dainius Zubrus in the second period. They were Zubrus’ first two tallies of the season.

3 -- Game shutout streak the Kings saw come to an end. L.A. had outscored its opponents 8-0 over the previous three games.

4 -- Winning streak the Kings failed to extend. L.A.’s last loss also came to the Devils. Captain Dustin Brown said, “82 games is a long season. I think what we need to avoid is a night like tonight where we aren’t really playing at our optimal level. We have to have our compete out there and tonight it wasn’t there the whole game.”

5:14 -- The number of minutes and seconds it took for the Devils to score all three of their goals in the second period. Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier said, “Next thing we knew it was two-nothing, three-nothing. In this league, it’s pretty hard when you don’t score that first goal or come back, especially against that type of team.”

7 -- Goals given up by Bernier in his two starts this season. Bernier allowed four goals in a setback to Buffalo on Oct. 8. Coach Terry Murray praised his netminder, saying, “Bernier was fine. We gave up some quality chances in the first period. He played well. This was not about goaltending.”

11 -- Consecutive penalties killed by the Kings dating to Oct. 18 against St. Louis. L.A. held New Jersey scoreless on two opportunities with the man advantage.

23:25 -- Icetime logged by Kings rookie defenseman Slava Voynov, who led all L.A. players. The 21-year-old managed two shots and two hits in his 22 shifts and finished minus-1 on the night.

73 -- Faceoff percentage by Kings center Anze Kopitar, who was 11-of-15 on the dot. Kopitar, however, was held without a point for a second consecutive game.

221, 22 -- Minutes and seconds of the Kings franchise-record scoreless streak, which came to an end when Zubrus scored 13:12 into the second period. The streak dates to the third period against Philadelphia on Oct. 15.