By LISA BERRYLICH | Los Angeles Times Staff WriterThe Kings went into Thursday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild with the best record in the Western Conference and a three-game lead over the Pacific Division’s No. 2 team.
The Kings, who are still battling for a playoff spot, were led by the return of star center Anze Kopitar, who has gone from having a career-low eight goals and 31 points in 61 games to a career high of 25 goals and 40 points.
They were also led by defenseman Drew Doughty, who had two goals and five assists and two blocked shots.
But the Kings were also coming off a 4-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues in which they allowed 17 goals on the night.
“You know, we’re not going to sit around and wait for anybody to give us a reason to get better,” said defenseman Zach Parise, who was in his fourth game of a four-game point streak and scored his first goal in his third game.
“We just have to continue to play.
We’re going to have to do whatever it takes to get back to where we want to be.”
The Kings, which are 5-1-1 in their last six, played their third straight game without Kopitar because of a lower-body injury that kept him out of the last two.
They also lost center Drew Doughter to a lower body injury early in the third period that sidelined him for about two minutes.
But after the Kings scored the game’s only goal at 12:38 of the third, Parise said they didn’t really have much to play for.
“I didn’t think about it, I just kept playing and just went out there and played my game,” Parise told reporters.
“It’s a little disappointing to lose him, but it’s a win.
We had a couple of chances but we couldn’t get any on the puck.”
Los Angeles was coming off its first loss in four games, a 4,000-foot home victory to the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night that was snapped with a power play goal by forward Justin Williams.
That loss was the third in the last five games for the Kings, whose four-day win streak is tied with the Dallas Stars for the longest since the franchise moved to Los Angeles in 1972-73.
The Ducks are 7-5-2 in their past eight games.
“That was a huge blow,” Paris said.
“I know it’s not going well, but I just don’t have anything to prove to myself right now.”
After a 4:13 fourth period in which the Kings shot 5 of 17 from the ice, Doughty scored on a power-play goal to give the Kings a 2-0 lead.
The goal gave the Kings their biggest lead at 5-0 and was the second power-free goal for Doughty in the past 12 games.
Doughty was a game-time decision for the game, which the team announced was postponed due to the weather.
The Kings scored twice in the final minutes of the second period when Doughty put the Kings ahead 3-2.
Parise scored a power shot from the right circle off a loose puck at 11:42 of the first period to give Los Angeles a 4.5-1 advantage.
But Doughty’s goal tied it at 5 after the Ducks scored on the power play.
Doughter made it 4-3 on a goal by defenseman Brandon Pirri, who got his first NHL goal on a breakaway at 10:58 of the period.
“It was tough,” Doughty said.
It was hard.
But it was the game and I’m trying to keep playing the way I want to play the way that I want and just continue to go out there every night and just try to be ready to play.”
The loss was also a major blow to the Kings’ playoff chances.
They have only lost once since they moved to LA in March 2018, losing a 6-4 decision to the New York Rangers on March 20.
They’ve won eight of their past nine games and are currently three points behind the Anaheim Sharks for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Pacific.
They host the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday night.