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Kings faced with back-to-back road games after ‘disappointing’ loss

Coming off perhaps their weakest effort of the season, the Kings will pivot directly into a back-to-back pair of road games that will pit them against the Montreal Canadiens and Columbus Blue Jackets this weekend.

If the Kings had been seeking to level out their efforts on offense and defense, they did so Thursday in the worst way imaginable. They were shut out for the first time this season and also gave up five goals, in stark contrast to their solid two-way effort in Ottawa two nights earlier.

“We’ve got to figure it out. We can lean on last year all we want, but at the end of the day, we’ve got to bring it every night,” team captain Anze Kopitar said after the loss in Toronto.

Thursday’s follies were headlined by a variety pack of blunders in the second period. The three goals the Kings ceded in just 66 seconds were a power-play marker, a tally off an odd-man rush and then a breakaway finish.

They would allow another goal in the second stanza, fail to convert on a five-minute power play in the third and ultimately lose 5-0 to the frenzied forecheck of the Maple Leafs. Toronto broke the game open in the middle frame but began their domineering play practically from the opening faceoff.

“I think the three goals in a minute and a half or whatever it was sums up the night. We were done after the first two, so it’s disappointing,” Coach Todd McLellan said.

There was no practice session Friday as the Kings will end up playing three games in four nights.

First up, they’ll face the Canadiens, whose attack has been led by its captain, center Nick Suzuki, and the pure goal-scoring touch of winger Cole Caufield. The additions of forwards Kirby Dach, once a top Chicago prospect, and Sean Monahan, whom the Calgary Flames jettisoned in a salary dump in order to sign Nazem Kadri, have given them newfound depth down the middle and up front overall with Dach moving to the wing.

Montreal goalie Carey Price has played just five games since taking the Habs on a longest-shot run to the Stanley Cup Final two seasons ago, one that also included Kings center Phillip Danault. Price has mostly been hindered by knee injuries, but also entered the NHL and NHLPA’s player assistance program last year.

His future remains in question while Jake Allen and Samuel Montembeault man the Montreal net, an issue exacerbated by defenseman Shea Weber’s situation. He has four years remaining on his $110 million contract, but his career effectively ended two seasons ago.

Nevertheless, Montreal has been formidable, albeit in a competitive division. Their 28 points would put them in a playoff spot in the Central Division and within striking distance in the Pacific, but they sit sixth in a hotly contested Atlantic.

That’s still much more than Columbus can boast, as they have been one of the NHL’s worst teams this season. Only the Ducks have fewer points and a worse goal differential than the Blue Jackets, and Columbus has allowed the most goals per game.

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