Sports

Kings must solve scoring woes to beat Hawks

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – After a rare day off for rest and contemplation, the Los Angeles Kings came back focused on what’s missing from their run at a second straight Stanley Cup title.

If the Kings can’t score more, they probably can’t scare mighty Chicago.

“We have to find a way to get the offensive part of the game accomplished without sacrificing the ‘D,’ ” captain Dustin Brown said Thursday between the Kings’ brief practice and their flight to Chicago. “We haven’t been able to do that yet, especially on the road. There’s no one reason, but it all comes back to hard work, just putting in the work to get more goals.”

The defending Stanley Cup champions are averaging exactly two goals per game in the postseason, lowest among the eight NHL teams who survived the first round. The Blackhawks are scoring 2.75 goals per game, while Pittsburgh and Boston are both above three goals per game.

The Kings realize they’ve got to help out Jonathan Quick, whose dominant goaltending propelled them – or maybe carried them – into their second straight Western Conference finals appearance starting Saturday at United Center.

Quick has allowed just 20 goals in 13 postseason games, but the Conn Smythe Trophy winner and his sturdy defense haven’t faced an offense with the Blackhawks’ speed and depth. While Quick leads the playoffs in goals-against average (1.50), save percentage (.948) and shutouts (three), even Quick realizes the Kings must do more to reach their second straight Stanley Cup final.

“We’ve all got to get a lot better,” Quick said. “We know we’ve got some work to do to beat those guys, because they had the best record in the regular season. They’re as tough as anybody out there.”

The Kings had few troubles scoring regularly in the regular season, finishing 10th in the NHL with 2.73 goals per game led by Jeff Carter, the Western Conference’s leading goal-scorer. Only Chicago and Anaheim scored more frequently in the West, but the Kings’ scoring touch has been sketchy in the playoffs despite their consistent success.

The Kings particularly struggle on the road, where they’ve scored just eight goals in six playoff games.

They’ve lost five times by an identical 2-1 score away from Staples Center, needing overtime for their only road victory.

“It is weird statistically, but we approach every game the same way,” said Colin Fraser, who won a Stanley Cup ring as a depth forward with Chicago in 2010. “We’ve just got to find a way to execute it better on the road. You can’t change everything you do if you’re not getting the results you usually get.”



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