The Kings looked to continue their hot streak against the Penguins with a chance to win their 5th in a row as they finally got back onto their home ice. The first quarter saw Pittsburgh strike first as Syndey Crosby knocked in his 7th goal of the season, but Los Angeles would match the goal as Carl Grundstrom put in his 5th on the year to even the score. The second period followed the same pattern, as the teams traded goals once more. This time, it was Adrian Kempe who struck first but was matched by Lars Eller to even the score at 2 heading to the third and final period. The Penguins would quickly score to open the frame and take a 3-2 lead courtesy of Jake Guentzel, but Los Angeles came up clutch to score the tying goal thanks to Kevin Fiala. As the game headed to overtime, the Penguins would eventually deliver the dagger, with Bryan Rust knocking in the game-winner to end the Kings’ streak.
Here are three takeaways from the game:
Kings fail to capitalize against third-string goalie
With the Penguins’ top 2 goalies, Tristan Jarry and Alex Nedeljkovic, both unavailable in Thursday night’s contest, it was up to their third-stringer Magnus Hellberg to make his first appearance as a Penguin. After signing with the club this past offseason on a one-year deal, the club certainly didn’t expect to have to use him in such a fashion. Nonetheless, he was able to step up for the Penguins and deliver a competitive performance to help lift his team to victory. On the Kings’ side of things, they would have liked to see more success against Hellberg and taken advantage of the lack of experience in the net. He was able to save 33 out of 36 shots attempted and limited Los Angeles from ever having more than a one-goal lead. He was able to outduel King’s goalie Phoenix Copley, who saved 16 out of 20 attempts. It goes to show that despite the circumstances, Pittsburg found a way to get it done and prevented the Kings from getting the best of Hellberg.
Overturned goal not enough to save the Kings in OT
As the Penguins and Kings headed into overtime tied at 3, the bonus period certainly had its fair share of drama. Initially, Pittsburgh believed that they had knocked in the game-winner at the 3:23 mark of the period, but the goal was wiped away and deemed to be offsides. The Kings were given another chance to stay alive and keep fighting, but just 22 seconds later it was Bryan Rust who scored once again (this time, legally).
It didn’t take long at all for Rust and the Penguins to get the goal back and walk out of Los Angeles with a sweep of their California road trip. The Kings, who have been elite on the road, will need to figure out what has been different in front of the home crowd. The team is now 1-2-3 at Crypto.com Arena this year and has failed to capitalize on winnable games that would add to the already hot start to the season. If the squad is able to get things at home under control going forward, they will end up as a force to be reckoned with.
Kempe, Kopitar have nice performances despite loss
Although in a losing effort, Adrian Kempe and Anze Kopitar both did their best to try and will the Kings to victory. Kempe, who scored in the second period for Los Angeles, was able to extend his points streak to 8 games. He has been a big part of the team’s success so far this season, and they will continue to rely on his production going forward.
As for Anze Kopitar, who scored his 400th career goal in the team’s last game against the Golden Knights, he once again reached an impressive mark. With his assist on Carl Grundstrom’s first-period goal, Kopitar moved into second on the Kings’ all-time points list. He surpassed Luc Robitaille, and capped off what has been quite the week for himself. His contributions as team captain have been extremely valuable for the club, and he will continue to lead them as Los Angeles looks to get back to the postseason.
The Kings will have a day off on Friday before their next game on Saturday at home against the Flyers. In their last matchup, which took place in Philadelphia, Los Angeles was victorious via a 5-0 shutout.
The game is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. PT.