Share This Page

Penguins royally flushed by Kings in third period

LOS ANGELES -- Their expectations are so high that a loss like this one will really stick.

That is the reality of life for the Penguins, who were stunned by a four-goal flurry from the Los Angeles Kings in just over 11 third-period minutes Thursday night, leading to a 5-2 defeat at Staples Center.

"We are pretty bothered," Penguins winger Craig Adams said of his club's first road loss in eight games and their only failure to protect a third-period lead in nine contests. "This team wants to win every night, expects to win every night."

Goals by Kings centers Anze Kopitar, Jarret Stoll and Michal Handzus were scored in a span of roughly six minutes, and winger Dustin Brown finished the frenzy late.

Kopitar, white-hot, has scored nine goals in 10 games and is second in the NHL with 12 tallies. He leads the league with 26 points. Stoll added his fourth and Handzus his sixth.

Penguins center Jordan Staal scored on his club's first shot 1:10 into the game, snapping a nine-game drought. His fourth goal could only tie the score, as Kopitar had tallied just 27 seconds in.

Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury played his worst game for the Penguins, stopping 27 of 32 shots after entering the contest with a .916 save percentage and 2.14 goals against average.

"It'As just frustrating," he said. "I let up too many goals."

He added that "teams are ready for us."

That figures to be the case against San Jose Saturday night, where the Penguins will face a perennially Cup-contending Sharks squad on the third game of their four-contest road trip.

"We have to regroup," Penguins winger Pascal Dupuis said. "We're all pretty confident we will."

Confidence might not enough for a club that is battling significant injuries. As expected the Penguins played without defenseman Sergei Gonchar (broken left wrist) and center Evgeni Malkin (strained right shoulder), and right wing Tyler Kennedy was a surprise late scratch.

Kennedy had recorded two assists and looked sharp in his return from a three-game absence Tuesday night in a win at Anaheim. As undisclosed injury, believed to have been of the lower-body variety, was offered by team officials as the reason for his absence last night.

The Penguins (12-4-0, 24 points) carried a 2-1 lead into the final period after winger Chris Kunitz's third goal midway through the second, but they failed to score on a late power play before the intermission and on another midway through the final period.

The Penguins have not produced an advantage goal in four games and are 3-for-32 in seven contests since Gonchar, their power-play quarterback, was lost for at least a month with a broken left wrist on Oct. 20.

"I thought we did some pretty good things on the power play," center Sidney Crosby said after failing to record a point in a third straight games. "That's an area we've tried to focus on and make adjustments, but (last night) was a matter of ... not burying our chances."

The Kings showed significant stretches of dominance, winning pucks battles along the boards and moving north-south against the typically stout Penguins, who head coach Dan Bylsma suggested spent too much time in the defensive zone.

The Kings (10-4-2, 22 points) are off to their best start since 1992, and this victory was a signature win over the Stanley Cup champions.

"Not only that we beat them, but the way we beat them -- coming back," Brown, their captain, said after adding his fifth goal. "It was a really good third ... our belief system in this room; we know we still wanted it."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.