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Hockey / Sports

Kings defense gets blame as they fall on the road to Bruins, 3-2

BOSTON -- There was no mistake about whom Los Angeles Kings Coach Darryl Sutter was blaming for Boston's third-period goal, which proved to be the game-winner in Boston's 3-2 win over the Kings on Monday at TD Garden.

Brad Marchand opened the scoring for the Bruins, on a dazzling short-handed effort in the first period, and closed it out in the third.

"Our defensemen had a tough night," Sutter said.

He was talking about Marchand's game-winning goal at 8:53 of the third period, not the short-handed foray at 12:07 of the first. Kings' defensemen Willie Mitchell and Alec Martinez were on the ice for it. Patrice Bergeron won the battle with Martinez behind the net, feeding the puck to Reilly Smith in the left circle.

Smith quickly found Marchand in the right circle, and he finished off the quick passing play for his 16th of the season. The goal halted the Kings' momentum as it came 18 seconds after Carter had tied the game, 2-2, on the power play with a one-timer from the right circle, beating Bruins goalie Chad Johnson.

"Darryl says it's a 3-2 league, I guess," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "He's usually right with that. Tonight we were on the other side of it."

The Kings, who trailed, 2-0, by the end of the first period, have managed to win merely once in their last eight road games, a stark reversal of earlier form away from home. Their two goals came from Mitchell, who had his first of the season, and Jeff Carter, who scored his team-leading 19th goal.

Mitchell's goal, at 4:09 of the first period, set up by a centering pass from Mike Richards, was his first regular-season goal since March 28, 2012, against Calgary. He later came close to doubling his scoring output for the season.

Sutter went back to the subject of the porous defense when asked about Mitchell's goal.

"If he had been sharper, he would have had a second one," Sutter said. "Our defense was not very good tonight. They had trouble handling the puck the whole night."

There were breakdowns elsewhere on the first Marchand goal. He leads the league with four shorthanded goals and managed to make one excellent defenseman (Drew Doughty) and a defensively responsible forward (Kopitar) look bad on the same play.

"Drew lost his stick to begin with and he was able to get the puck back and he went around me," Kopitar said. "I thought he was going to shoot it, so I went knee down and tried to block it, went around me.

"It was a nice move but it shouldn't happen."

Said Doughty: "We just didn't start off well and that's why we lost the game, really. We can't be giving up a goal on our power play ... and we finally picked it up in the second and third but that was too late."

In fact, the afternoon started off in a bizarre way for Doughty. He needed stitches before the game after he cut his foot in the dressing room while tying his skate.

"It wasn't bad. It (stunk) I wasn't out there for warm up," Doughty said. "I was fine. It's not a bad cut, though."

(c)2014 Los Angeles Times

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