Kings 4, Senators 1
LOS ANGELES — For the Ottawa Senators on Saturday, it boiled down to a bad early Mark Borowiecki penalty and a bad two seconds in the middle period.
The Los Angeles Kings defeated the Senators 4-1 in a Staples Center matinée, taking what the Senators gave them and going into lockdown mode when needed most.
In the process, they spoiled the party for Senators right-winger Chris Neil, who was playing in his 1,000th career game.
Jeff Carter, Alec Martinez, Trevor Lewis and Marian Gaborik scored for the Kings. Zack Smith scored the lone Senators goal.
Senators netminder Mike Condon faced 19 shots, while the Kings’ Peter Budaj saw 20 shots.
The Senators are now 1-2 on the four-game road trip, needing a win in Anaheim on Sunday to return home .500.
The trip began with an 8-5 loss at Pittsburgh on Monday and a 4-2 win Wednesday over San Jose.
On Saturday, the Senators buried themselves early, allowing a pair of power-play goals after Borowiecki received a five-minute boarding penalty for hitting Tyler Toffoli into the boards from behind. Toffoli initially went to the Kings’ dressing room, but he returned later in the first period.
“It’s a penalty for sure,” said Borowiecki. “I feel bad for putting my team behind the 8-ball there and I was hoping they could pull it out for me,” he said. “I definitely felt bad about that one and I will take ownership for that.”
Down 2-0 after the early power-play goals, the Senators dominated the second period, controlling play with their speed.
They got one back when Smith finished off a play he started by stealing the puck out of mid-air inside the Kings’ blue-line two minutes into the period.
It was Smith’s first goal since Nov. 11, breaking an unlucky 13-game drought.
From there, the Senators pressed and pressed, and were only inches away from capitalizing on a few Budaj rebounds. The Senators outshot the Kings 9-5 in the middle period, repeatedly beating the home team to loose pucks.
For all that, they fell asleep as time was winding down, leaving Lewis all alone in front of Condon. With two seconds remaining, Lewis tapped home a feed from Derek Forbort, giving the Kings their commanding 3-1 lead to start the third period.
Once again, the Senators were back where they were to start the middle period.
“The biggest deflator was probably the end of the second period,” said coach Guy Boucher. “We were all over them and the guys believed we could come back. We just needed to keep it at one. On that goal, we were first on the puck in our zone. That should not happen.”
The Kings were solid in the third period, closing the door on any attempted Senators comeback, limiting the Senators to a mere three shots in the final 20 minutes. Gaborik put it out reach by scoring his first of the year — and the Kings’ third power-play goal of the afternoon — late in the game.
While the Kings took advantage of their power plays, the Senators came up empty with the man advantage. With the Senators down 3-1 in the third, Mark Stone missed a wide-open net. He stared skyward after the failed shot.
A big part of the Senators’ pregame preparation focused on being wary of an angry Kings team.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter had called out his team’s top players following Thursday’s 3-1 loss to Carolina, demanding a better effort Saturday to conclude their homestand.
Accordingly, Boucher and his players talked about trying to withstand an early storm.
So much for that idea. Only 2:38 into the game, Borowiecki drilled Toffoli into the boards from behind.
The Kings took full advantage. First, Carter beat Condon up high after Dion Phaneuf misplayed the puck in the faceoff circle.
Condon then misplayed the puck himself. He stopped Martinez’s shot from the blue-line with his blocker, but the puck popped up high in the air. Condon lost sight of it, and the puck eventually bounced off his back into the net.
From there, the Kings bent, but didn’t break, catching the big break at end of the second period.
“That was a tough one to come back from,” said Smith. “We controlled the pace and created a lot of opportunities after the first half of the first period, and we were rolling along. It’s tough when they get one when they hadn’t had a shot in quite a while.”