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.