By Neel Madhavan
Returning to Staples Center for the first time since Jan. 21, the Los Angeles Kings hoped to give their notoriously faithful fans something to cheer about.
However, Elias Pettersson and the Vancouver Canucks had other plans.
Both Pettersson and Adam Gaudette tallied a goal and an assist to hand the Kings a 4-3 shootout loss on Feb. 14.
“It was a tough game tonight, playing back-to-back against a team that had been sitting here for a bit, and nice to find a win,” said Canucks coach Travis Green.
From puck drop, the Kings looked determined to go on the attack, totaling 38 shots on goal during the game, almost 10 shots per game more than the 28.6 they’re averaging this season.
Pettersson opened the scoring with a power play goal in the first period, but it took just eight seconds for the Kings to respond with a goal from Austin Wagner initiated instantly from a face-off.
That wasn’t the only time the Kings would be forced to respond from behind. Similar to the first goal, they needed another Kyle Clifford assist to lift them back into the game.
About midway through the third period, the Kings then seized their only lead of the night through an absurdly long slap shot goal from Alec Martinez from just inside the blue line.
“We believe in each other in this room,” Wagner said. “That’s what we’re trying to do, get leads and play with the lead.”
Gaudette’s equalizer with just 1:38 to go assured that the game would go into overtime.
After a scoreless overtime period and two shootout misses by the Kings, Brock Boeser’s goal in the third round of the shootout handed the Canucks the victory.
“I think we’ve just got to learn from this stuff,” Martinez said. “I think that we’ve been practicing better as of late and that’s translated to games.”
Martinez reiterated the Kings’ need for points, especially as they currently sit in last place in the Western Conference.
With just 11 days before the trade deadline, the Kings’ front office faces some personnel decisions moving forward as they begin to prepare for the future. Tyler Toffoli and Ilya Kovalchuk have disappointed in the goal-scoring department, but the Kings still have a solid foundation with Drew Doughty, Anze Kopitar and Jonathan Quick.