Updated November 8, 2023 - 11:11 pm
One puck went off defenseman Alex Pietrangelo’s right ankle. Another caromed off the end boards.
Both times the Golden Knights would have been fine almost any which way the puck decided to bounce. Both times it instead ended up on the stick of a Los Angeles King.
The Kings were opportunistic, accepted their good fortune and defeated the Knights 4-1 on Wednesday in front of an announced crowd of 18,330 at T-Mobile Arena. Los Angeles took a 3-0 lead and didn’t look back to win its fourth straight.
The Knights, who saw so many breaks go their way during an 11-0-1 start, saw what the flip side of that coin is like. They couldn’t get the puck to help them out, and lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time since Jan. 16 and 19.
“It obviously wasn’t our best tonight,” Pietrangelo said. “It’s tough when they get a couple things that go their way. But you know what? We were getting those bounces when we won all those games in a row. Sometimes the hockey gods are testing you, so good test here these last couple games for us.”
Captain Mark Stone called it “pretty bland” for the first 36 minutes and “pretty even.”
The Knights and Kings weren’t giving each other much space to operate with on the ice for much of Wednesday’s contest. The two Pacific Division rivals knew a swing in the standings could end up mattering later in the year.
The defensive intensity made it hard for either side to break through. Until Los Angeles got a little help from Pietrangelo.
Defenseman Jordan Spence fired a point shot that went off the Knights defenseman and kicked out to the bottom of the right circle. Right wing Adrian Kempe reacted fast, batting the puck into the net from mid-air.
The Kings, with 8:30 left in the second period, turned a blocked shot into a 1-0 lead.
Los Angeles pulled away after that with two-power play goals. Left wing Trevor Moore deflected another Spence point shot past goaltender Adin Hill with 4:02 left before the second intermission.
The Kings then increased their advantage to 3-0 with another play that didn’t go exactly as planned. Kempe fired a shot from above the right circle that deflected off defenseman Brayden McNabb, off the end boards and to the waiting stick of center Pierre-Luc Dubois. The puck was in the net before Hill had time to figure out where it went.
The Knights got no such luck of their own. Center William Karlsson put a goal past goaltender Cam Talbot with 5:27 remaining, but the team squandered most of its opportunities to strike back. The Knights finished with a season-low one goal despite matching their season high with 38 shots.
Center Anze Kopitar capped off the Kings’ seventh road win in seven tries by scoring into an empty net with 12 seconds remaining. It was his 400th NHL goal, making him the ninth active player to hit that milestone.
“We probably got a few of those bounces to help us along (earlier in the year) and tonight we didn’t,” coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It looked like there were some open-net opportunities, and we were whacking it wide or we couldn’t quite collect a puck. That’s a little bit of what’s going to happen as the season goes on, balancing out.”
Here are three takeaways from the loss:
1. Hill’s night
The Knights’ starting goaltender did his job in the loss.
Hill extended his personal shutout streak to 95:48 before Kempe’s second-period goal. He made a number of sharp saves to keep his team’s chances alive, including a stop on right wing Arthur Kaliyev on a two-on-one earlier in the second.
Hill, who finished with 29 saves, ended up being overshadowed by Cam Talbot in the other net. The 36-year-old made 37 saves for his eighth win against the Knights in his 18th start against them.
2. Stephenson out
One thing that didn’t help the Knights is the fact they played without one of their 2023 All-Stars.
Center Chandler Stephenson missed Wednesday’s game and will be out Friday as well with an upper-body injury. Stephenson suffered it in Saturday’s 7-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche, played through it in Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks and aggravated it enough that he needed to sit out.
Michael Amadio was shifted to Stephenson’s spot at second-line center with captain Mark Stone and left wing William Carrier.
3. Karlsson keeps scoring
Karlsson gave the Knights fans who stayed at least something to cheer about before the game was over. T-Mobile Arena even played ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” before the next media timeout to celebrate his goal.
The 30-year-old wasted no time getting back on the scoresheet after his nine-game point streak, tied for the franchise record, was snapped Sunday. Karlsson now has seven goals and seven assists in his last 11 games.