LOS ANGELES — The Golden Knights thought they had played well enough to end their losing streak Saturday.
They erased 2-0 and 3-1 deficits against the Los Angeles Kings. They were disciplined, taking just two penalties overall and none in the final two periods.
But it wasn’t enough. Left wing Jeff Carter, playing in his 1,000th NHL game, scored a tiebreaking goal off a deflection with 7:18 remaining to give the Kings a 4-3 win at Staples Center.
The Knights (9-9-3) are 0-4-1 in their last five games. The Kings (8-11-1) won their third straight.
“We got to capitalize there when it’s a one-goal game,” Knights left wing Max Pacioretty said. “I think the first two periods were pretty good. Third period was all right, but I think we got to have that little bit of killer instinct to close out a game. It just hasn’t been there lately. We have to find it quick.”
Here’s what else stood out in the loss:
1. Special teams dig hole
The Knights controlled 5-on-5 play in the first period and had a 14-7 edge in shot attempts. But they trailed 2-0 after one period because of special teams.
The Kings opened the scoring with a short-handed goal with 9:01 left in the first period. Left wing Adrian Kempe and center Blake Lizzotte got a 2-on-1, Kempe shot and Lizzotte put the rebound into the net.
The Kings added a power-play goal 4:11 later when defenseman Drew Doughty’s shot deflected off goaltender Malcolm Subban and in.
“It’s frustrating,” right wing Reilly Smith said. “I think we played a pretty good game. It’s just tough when you fall behind early and then play catch-up.”
2. Killer instinct lacking
The Knights dug out of their early hole with second-period goals from Pacioretty, left wing Jonathan Marchessault and center William Karlsson to tie the score at 3 entering the third period.
Then they couldn’t finish. Carter tipped defenseman Matt Roy’s shot down through the five-hole of Subban to render the second-period comeback moot.
The Knights fell to 0-1-2 when tied after two periods. They’ve been outscored 19-16 in the third.
“We got to find that third period and come out there and dominate a third period,” coach Gerard Gallant said. “It seems like we’re scared to lose in the third period instead of going out there, being confident and trying to win.”
3. Numbers don’t reflect results
It’s tough to blame the Knights for lacking confidence.
They say they’re playing decent hockey, but continue to come up empty. In their five-game losing streak, the Knights at 5-on-5 had more shot attempts in five games, more scoring chances in three and more expected goals in four.
It didn’t matter. They’re out of the playoff picture after 21 games with a goal differential of minus-3. They have no time to mope, either, not with another division game against the Calgary Flames at 4 p.m. Sunday at T-Mobile Arena.
“We’re going to get out of this,” defenseman Brayden McNabb said. “We’re a good team. We’ve been playing a lot better. We’re not getting results right now, but we have to stay with it. We can’t turn on each other. We have to stay positive as a group and move forward.”