LOS ANGELES — The Islanders went oh-for-California and looked bad at times doing it.
But, sometimes, losses are relative.
For instance, Wednesday night’s 4-1 defeat to the Kings at Staples Center to conclude an 0-2-1 trek didn’t sting as much as Monday’s 3-0 loss to the Ducks, when coach Barry Trotz and his players agreed the team did not do enough to compete.
“They put in a much better effort than Anaheim,” Trotz said. “The score doesn’t indicate that.”
Still, there are areas of concern for the Islanders (16-5-2), who managed just two goals in the three games, went 0-for-3 on the power play against the Kings and 0-for-10 on the trip and have held a lead for just 5:26 over their last 18 periods of regulation play. They’ve lost two straight in regulation for the second time this season after Saturday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Sharks extended their franchise record point streak to 15-0-2.
“It’s a long year,” defenseman Ryan Pulock said. “Things aren’t going to go your way every game. We definitely need to be better. But I thought we had a better effort than we did in Anaheim. There are ups and downs in the season. We’re in a little bit of a down here.”
The Kings (10-13-2) were 1-for-4 on the power play. They clinched the game for all intents and purposes on defenseman Matt Roy’s unscreened slap shot from just inside the blue line at 10:19 of the third period with the teams skating four-on-four to make it 3-1.
The Kings’ Jeff Carter had continued his stick battle with Mathew Barzal with a slash at 8:40 but Barzal was also whistled for embellishment.
“I was,” Trotz said when asked if he was surprised Barzal was also penalized. “I don’t think they saw it. They managed the situation, I thought.”
Alex Iafallo added an empty-netter at 17:53.
Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves for the Islanders while counterpart Jonathan Quick stopped 24 shots.
The Islanders had allowed the first goal in their previous five games but took a 1-0 lead as Derick Brassard, with his seventh goal of the season but first in six games, tipped in defenseman Scott Mayfield’s shot from the right point at 8:42 of the first period.
The Kings got the breaks and capitalized on their chances the rest of the game.
“First of all, it’s probably the hardest road trip of the season,” Brassard said. “I thought we played a really strong game in San Jose. In Anaheim, we didn’t have a good game. Tonight, we were more committed. We played harder.”
Still, Dustin Brown tied the game at 1 at 9:46 on a sharp angle from the left as the puck went between Varlamov’s head and shoulder to the short side. Varlamov said he does not believe Brown was attempting a shot but, instead, the puck deflected off his stick.
The Islanders then spent the end of the period killing penalties as defenseman Adam Pelech hooked Anze Kopitar at 16:05 and Cal Clutterbuck slashed Tytler Toffoli’s stick at 18:35 with the Kings still controlling the puck off their first power play.
The Islanders had issues playing the puck in their own zone in the second period. Varlamov had to make two point-blank stops on Austin Wagner at 6:07 off one such sequence and rookie defenseman Noah Dobson, in the lineup with Nick Leddy sidelined, wound up tripping Kyle Clifford at the Islanders’ blue line at 14:33 after failing to handle an attempted breakout pass.
That led to Jeff Carter’s power-play goal for a 2-1 lead at 16:17 as he cut across the crease to deflect Michael Amadio’s blue-line shot.