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Anze Kopitar calls Kings’ effort ‘unacceptable’ after ugly loss to Maple Leafs – Daily News

LOS ANGELES — Adversity can break a team, or bring it together.

The Kings have been through a lot this season, and it was only 16 games old ahead of Tuesday night’s game against Toronto. They endured a recent coaching change from John Stevens to Willie Desjardins, they are off to a very slow start and they recently lost their top two goalies – Jonathan Quick and Jack Campbell – to knee injuries.

It got worse. The Kings gave up three power-play goals – two inside the first six-plus minutes of the game – and the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated them 5-1 before 17,859 at Staples Center.

The Kings are now 1-3-0 under Desjardins and have lost three consecutive games after winning in Desjardins’ debut Nov. 6.

Afterward, Kings captain Anze Kopitar put it all out there. It was harsh, but seemingly on the money. He was asked about the lack of offense, which has produced just two goals in the past three games. He scoffed.

“I don’t think the offense was the problem today, by any means,” he said, as he sat dejectedly at his locker. “I mean, it was the lack of desperation and work, energy, emotion, whatever. That kind of effort, it’s unacceptable.

“We’re running out of time here. I mean, there are 65 games left and maybe on the outside it seems that there’s plenty of time. But it’s really not, so we’ve gotta pull our stuff together in a hurry here and get it going and win games.”

The Kings are an NHL-worst 5-11-1. Toronto is 12-6-0 (24 points), 7-1 on the road.

Desjardins was told about Kopitar’s comments, and the interim coach concurred.

“Yeah, I would agree with that,” he said. “I think that we got behind on their power play, but I didn’t see us get desperate until they got about their third or fourth goal.

“And then I saw us on the bench starting to get upset and you can’t get upset after four goals; that’s too late. If you have that energy after the fourth goal, why don’t you have it after the first goal? Or why don’t you have it at the start of the game before any goals?”

It took Toronto less than three minutes to get on the scoreboard, and it came on a power-play goal by Nazem Kadri after the Kings’ Dustin Brown was called for slashing. The Maple Leafs dished out several beautiful passes, the final one coming from Mitchell Marner, who found Kadri in front of the net, Kadri easily scoring past goalie Peter Budaj at 2:42. Budaj started his first game of the season for the Kings. John Tavares had the other assist. It was No. 6 for Kadri.

It was 2-0 Toronto not long after, and the tally came on another power-play goal courtesy of another slashing penalty – this one by Tanner Pearson. The Kings nearly killed the penalty, but Morgan Rielly took a long shot from the blue line with about five seconds left that was deflected in by Tavares. It was No. 11 for Tavares, the goal coming at 6:12.

The Kings were shut out for the first time this season in a 1-0 loss to Calgary on Saturday and came in averaging a league-low 2.06 goals per game, but they finally scored when Adrian Kempe deflected in a long shot by Dion Phaneuf at 14:28 of the period to get within 2-1. It was Kempe’s second of the season, ending his 12-game drought that dated to Oct. 11.

Like they did in the first period, the Kings gave up an early goal in the second when Rielly blasted his eighth over the right shoulder of Budaj and into the net for a 3-1 lead at 1:15. Tavares had his second assist of the game.

The Maple Leafs were not done.

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