LA Kings vs. Sharks: Long-term Drew Doughty injury will sink this team

LA Kings (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
LA Kings (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

The LA Kings couldn’t close out a lead in the final minute of Tuesday’s game against the Sharks, but Drew Doughty’s status may be the bigger concern.

Remember those first couple weeks of the season? When the LA Kings were off to a decent start, and it looked like there was a playoff spot up for grabs in the West Division?

Well, the latter may still be true, but the Kings’ decent start is pretty rapidly deteriorating into a nightmare one.

For the second time already this season, LA failed to close out a game where it held the lead in the final minute and ended up losing. While this may not quite have been Matt Dumba deflecting a Ryan Suter shot in with under a second to go, Evander Kane’s goal that tied the game 3-3 with 44.3 seconds left stung all the same.

The Kings fought their way back after a downright embarrassing start to this game. It’s one thing for them to get dominated by the Vegas Golden Knights. It’s quite another for it to happen against a San Jose Sharks team with one non-shootout win this season. Or against the Anaheim Ducks, which happened last week.

Seven minutes into the second period, the Kings trailed the Sharks 2-0 and were being outshot 17-5, when an Anze Kopitar breakaway goal got the Kings on the board and seemed to turn the momentum of this game in their favor. LA outshot San Jose 10-4 over the rest of the frame and tied things up on a Dustin Brown power play goal.

Brown scored again in the third to put the Kings ahead, and for a while, it looked like they may actually come back to win this one before Kane tied it. Logan Couture scored the only goal of the shootout to send LA to a fifth straight loss. The Kings get some credit for clawing back from that horrible start to get a point out of this game, I guess, but they need to stop starting games that way, to begin with.

Still, the biggest concern for the Kings from Tuesday’s game was Drew Doughty leaving and not returning after getting hit in the arm by a shot from Brent Burns in the third period.

Todd McLellan didn’t have an update on Doughty’s status after the game, but needless to say, if Doughty has to miss time, it’s an enormous loss for a team that can’t afford to be without him. Things have been ugly enough since losing Matt Roy and Sean Walker to injuries. If Doughty misses games, the Kings will be without all three right-handed defensemen from their opening night lineup.

What’s unfortunate is that if San Jose hadn’t tied things up late, we’d probably be talking a lot more about Cal Petersen. He played really well, making his second straight start for LA and finishing with 37 saves on the night. Far more of the blame for all three goals he allowed should be placed on his teammates.

For example, here’s Couture being left unattended right beside the net for a tap in on San Jose’s second goal.

Why Kurtis MacDermid was up covering the point like a winger, I’m not quite sure.

Petersen now owns a .925 save percentage on the season, contrasted with Jonathan Quick’s .867 mark. It’s an awkward situation for the Kings, given everything Quick’s done for the franchise and how respected he is by the team and fans, but letting Petersen begin to take the bulk of the playing time in net is the best thing for the team. As much as Quick’s teammates may love him, they also want to win games, and it’s becoming harder and harder to deny that Petersen is giving them a better chance to do so.

LA Kings Schedule

The Kings and Sharks will go at it again at Staples Center on Thursday night.