Final in Buffalo: Sabres 4, Kings 2
The Kings hit the heights last week during a six-game winning streak. They’ve now hit their first skid of the season after a 4-2 loss to the Sabres on Friday at HSBC Arena stretched their losing streak to three.
Tim Connolly’s power-play rebound at 2:10 of the third period proved the difference in a game in which the Sabres planted big-bodied forwards in front of Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier at every opportunity and rarely suffered the consequences. Jochen Hecht added an insurance goal for the Sabres at 15:21 after the Kings lost a faceoff in their own zone and Hecht was able to set up in the high slot.
Dustin Brown and Wayne Simmonds scored for the Kings (12-6-0), whose road record fell to 4-5.
The Kings have given up 15 goals in their last three games, an ominous sign for a team that prides itself on its strong defensive play. It’s not only that they miss burly defenseman Willie Mitchell, though that’s part of their problem without his physical presence and shutdown ability.
It’s that other defensemen are being asked to do more and not all are capable of responding. And his absence coincides with the increasingly ragged play of Matt Greene. He has been unreliable in his own end and unable to stay on the right side of the line that separates toughness and a lack of discipline.
The Kings haven’t won in Buffalo since Feb. 21, 2003 -- though that represents only four losses in the NHL's unbalanced schedule.
More later at www.latimes.com/sports
Helene Elliott, in Buffalo
Photo: Kings forward Ryan Smyth, left, tries to put the puck past Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller during the first period of the Kings' 4-2 loss Friday. Credit: Don Heupel / Associated Press