With the Los Angeles Kings and Buffalo Sabres having trouble keeping the puck out of the net, there could be plenty of ink on the scoresheet when the teams meet Tuesday night in Buffalo.
The Sabres have allowed an average of 3.68 goals per game this season, with the Kings (3.61) not far behind.
Buffalo also is one of the NHL’s highest-scoring teams at 3.86 goals scored per game and relies on that offense to stay competitive. The Sabres are 0-11-1 this season when scoring three or fewer goals in a game.
The trend continued in back-to-back losses to the Pittsburgh Penguins — 4-3 in overtime on Friday and 3-1 on Saturday. Buffalo outshot Pittsburgh 38-31 in the latter matchup, but the Penguins had two goals in the first seven minutes and never trailed.
“Obviously that first period wasn’t our best. I think in the second and third we dominated them and just couldn’t get the job done today,” said Peyton Krebs, who scored Buffalo’s only goal.
“We had some power plays, we had some looks, we had some opportunities for sure to capitalize. … Other nights those might go in, and tonight they didn’t.”
The Kings had frustration of a different kind in Sunday’s 6-5 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. A video was required to determine that Kings defenseman Kevin Fiala re-directed the puck into his own net on Johnny Gaudreau’s game-winning tally in OT, rather than Gaudreau possibly re-directing the puck with his glove.
Los Angeles needed two third-period goals to force the extra frame after allowing five goals to the Blue Jackets on only 24 shots in regulation. Columbus went 2-for-3 on the power play and also scored a shorthanded goal late in the second period.
“The carelessness is killing us,” said Kings coach Todd McLellan, who wasn’t pleased with his forwards’ defensive effort.
“We’ve got to care about more situations that are important coming back to our end. … I’m not sure that we value the checking part as much as we have in the past,” McLellan said. “It’s just ‘go and score.’ And it’s disappointing. Another hard game to evaluate.”
Over their past eight games, the Kings are only 14-for-24 on the penalty kill.
The goal-prevention efforts could be more difficult for Los Angeles if Drew Doughty isn’t available. The defenseman didn’t play Sunday and is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Kings captain Anze Kopitar had two goals Sunday and has 13 points (seven goals, six assists) over his past 10 games.
While Jonathan Quick didn’t get much help from his defense against Columbus, he has a 3.55 goals-against average and .882 save percentage this season. Quick still is the probable starter for Tuesday, but backup goaltender Pheonix Copley has played well in his first two games for the Kings, both wins.
Buffalo goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen has been getting the bulk of starts lately over Craig Anderson and should be in the Sabres’ net again Tuesday.
Luukkonen was solid in stopping 28 of 31 Pittsburgh shots on Saturday, but he has only a 3.86 goals-against average and .866 save percentage in seven games this season.
–Field Level Media