The Golden Knights ended February on a down note. And they only have themselves to blame.
The Knights made two critical turnovers that led directly to goals, and the Los Angeles Kings walked away from T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday with a 4-1 victory in a battle of backup goaltenders.
Kyle Clifford and Tyler Toffoli took advantage of the Knights’ miscues to score and Anze Kopitar added a goal in the second period for the Kings (35-24-5, 75 points).
Jeff Carter of the Kings converted on a power play late in the third.
The Kings swept both games of the back-to-back and leapfrogged idle Anaheim into third place in the Pacific Division.
William Karlsson posted his team-best 34th goal in the first period for the Knights (41-17-5, 87 points).
“Just some bad bounces for us,” Karlsson said. “It happens. We didn’t find a way to manage to get back.”
The rivals finished the season series even with two wins apiece — Los Angeles outscored the Knights 11-10 in the four games — and left the announced crowd of 18,328 hoping for a rematch in the playoffs next month.
“We made mistakes that were self-inflicted,” Knights coach Gerard Gallant said. ” We turned some pucks over in the neutral zone, and they capitalized. That was the difference in the game.”
Goaltender Maxime Lagace started in place of Marc-Andre Fleury for the Knights to complete the back-to-back. Lagace was credited with 26 saves in his first start since Dec. 9 at Dallas.
“My game’s to stop the puck …,” Lagace said. “But I thought we played really good for the most part. We put a lot of shots and Campbell played really well.
“It’s not the result we wanted, but those games happen.”
Wing Tomas Tatar also made his Knights debut after being acquired at the trade deadline from Detroit.
Forwards James Neal and Oscar Lindberg were not in the Knights’ lineup after each was injured in Monday’s 3-2 overtime loss in Los Angeles.
The Kings countered with journeyman goaltender Jack Campbell, who made his third career NHL appearance and first start since October 2013 when he was with the Dallas Stars.
Campbell came up with 17 saves in the second period and finished with 41 stops en route to his first NHL victory.
Los Angeles went ahead 2-1 at 6:56 of the second period thanks to a sloppy sequence by the Knights.
Reilly Smith and Deryk Engelland each had trouble controlling the puck at the Knights’ blue line before Toffoli pounced and beat Lagace with a wrist shot from the left wing for his 21st goal.
Kopitar gave Los Angeles a two-goal lead with 29.4 seconds remaining in the second on an outstanding individual effort.
The Kings captain picked up the puck in the neutral zone and breezed past defenseman Luca Sbisa before cutting to the net. Kopitar waited for Lagace to go down and then roofed a forehand for his team-leading 27th goal.
The Knights opened the scoring early in the first period for the second straight game against the Kings.
Campbell got his paddle on Jonathan Marchessault’s pass intended for Karlsson, but the puck fell into the crease and Karlsson jammed it through a maze of bodies at 5:27.
However, Los Angeles capitalized on a critical turnover by the Knights to tie the game a little more than three minutes later.
Ryan Carpenter backhanded a pass from his own blue line toward the Knights’ net that appeared to be intended for defenseman Colin Miller or Jon Merrill.
Instead, it was intercepted by Clifford, and the Kings forward wasted no time lifting the puck into the top corner past Lagace at 8:36 for his fourth goal of the season.
Alex Tuch had a chance to put the Knights ahead 2-1 with five minutes left in the first after a nice feed from Erik Haula, but Tuch’s redirection sailed wide.