So the streak is over. It had to end, and although I'm not thrilled it came against the Rangers, it could be worse. It could have come to an end against the Red Wings... In the end this game was doomed by weak goalkeeping, and bad luck.
Despite all that, this game might have been the most impressive that the Kings have played, regardless of the result. Unlike some of the other teams (Islanders - poor, Blues - still young and inconsistent, etc) the Rangers can not be described as a poor team. Although I tend to think they'll fall back to earth a la Rangers teams of past seasons, coming into this game they're on a five game winning streak, and their key players such as Gaborik have been highly productive. The Kings had their own four game winning streak, so this was truly a matchup of two of the top teams in the league (for right now) even if it's unlikely that both (either?) will stay there for the duration.
Anyway, in this game, the Kings forecheck dominated for long streches of the first and second period, and although they fell behind early, and played more than half of the game from behind, they maintained their hunger for the goal. The Kings bounced back from an early goal against, and helped get some early support for a shaky Ersberg. It's clear that the lack of playing time has hurt his consistency, but hopefully he'll learn to shake that rust off quicker so that he can play as a solid backup for the rest of the year. I do have to say that if the Rangers have been playing the way they did tonight, I have no idea how they're 5-1. Their passes haven't been crisp, the skating isn't impressive, they have a TERRIBLE breakout, and in general are unimpressive. That being said, there's no arguing with results, and the Rangers have gotten them so far.
I also think this game was useful because it demonstrated a completely different challenge than the Kings have (successfully) faced this season. In their four wins, they've jumped out to a fairly significant lead. Other than the first game, which I'm inclined to describe as an abberation at this point, they've never been behind from the start. This game gave them an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to play against a team that was able to match them offensively, and that scores the first goal. In general I'd say the rose to the challenge. While their power play was generally weak (1 out of 6 is not an impressive conversion rate), other aspects of their game were actually fairly strong. Despite the fact that they failed to make the comeback, they held the Rangers to a single shot on in the 3rd period, and played impressively to dominate the bulk of play when they needed to. In the end they were stymied by talented goalkeeping, but they're definitely on the right track.
Next up: Red Wings
Result: Rangers 4 - Kings 2