Kings: Offense muted in 1-0 loss to Canucks

Vancouver Canucks 1, Kings 0

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: The Kings not only blew another chance to move back atop the Pacific Division standings by delivering an unispired performance Monday night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, they fell out of the top eight in the Western Conference with six games to go.

THE STAT: The Kings came into the game ranked second in the league in hits, but it was the Canucks who set the tone early with their physical play. Vancouver, which entered No. 18 in the league in hits, out-hit the Kings, 14-4, in the first eight minutes, while also taking a 1-0 lead.

TURNING POINT: Before many could get settled into their seats, Kings forward Kyle Clifford drove to the net on a tough angle and his shot was kicked aside by Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo. That started a 2-on-3 rush with Maxime Lapierre handling the puck down the middle. As two Kings converged on Lapierre, he passed the puck to Manny Malhotra on his left. Malhotra had a step on Kings rookie defenseman Slava Voynov, who stuck his stick out, but not before Malhotra released a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle that beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick over his left shoulder 3:05 into the game. It was the seventh goal of the season for Malhotra, the brother-in-law of Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash.

HOT: Clifford couldn’t believe he was called for unsportsmanlike conduct after skidding to a halt during the second period to avoid running into Luongo and showering him with ice. Dustin Penner had a similar reaction after he was called for goalie interference with 3:23 left in the game, although it appeared contact with a Vancouver player forced him into Luongo. The Kings killed both penalties but wasted precious time and energy in the process.

NOT: The Kings offense has reverted back to its old ways. After scoring 37 goals in a 10-game span from Feb. 28 to March 20, they’ve pocketed two in the last three. Kings leading scorer Anze Kopitar, who matched his career-high with goals in four straight games during that stretch, has gone without a point in the last three. He finished with two shots on goal against the Canucks, going 45 ½ minutes without sending a puck at the net during one stretch.

GOOD MOVE: Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell, a Vancouver native who previously played for the Canucks, showed up to play. He was one of the most active offensive players in the first period, hitting the post off a faceoff, and finished with a team-high three blocked shots and four takeaways. Unfortunately, he was on the ice for the only goal.

BAD MOVE: Though Quick has been outstanding for most of the season, he has given up two soft goals in the last two games, both of which turned out to be the difference. He let the go-ahead goal skid through his pads early in the third period Saturday night in a 4-2 loss to the Bruins, and Malhotra’s goal came from a similar distance and angle.

NOTABLE: In the 32 losses by Quick this season, the Kings have scored 39 goals. They are 3-4-1 in 1-0 games … The Canucks have scored 75 goals in the first period, the most in the NHL.

UP NEXT: Wednesday at the Calgary Flames, 6:30 p.m. PT.