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As West playoff race gets tighter, Kings’ scoring woes far from disappearing

Getty ImagesUNIONDALE, N.Y. — "Nobody died. It's a hardworking point for our team."

That's how Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter summed up his team's 2-1 overtime loss to the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon, their fourth defeat in five games.

Such is life with the Kings this season. A strong defensive effort derailed by an offensive output that's lacking. They've been shut out six times and have been held to a single goal in 16 games, all while Jonathan Quick has posted a 23-14-10 record and ranks third overall among goaltenders with a stunning 1.91 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.

Los Angeles sits 30th in the NHL in scoring with 2.07 goals per game (they're also third in goals allowed averaging 2.07 against per game) and as the trade deadline looms two weeks from Monday, general manager Dean Lombardi must be weighing options to inject some sort of life into a team desperately searching for offensive help.

At the moment, the Kings have under $1 million in cap space, per CapGeek, and after trading a 2011 first-rounder, a conditional 2012 pick and prospect Colten Teubert to Edmonton for Dustin Penner last February, a deal that's netted the Kings just seven goals since, is Lombardi willing to take a gamble and once again pay a high price to fill an immediate need?

If he does, it doesn't sounds like he'll go the rental route after his conversation with Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider last week. Either way, goals are needed in Los Angeles and needed badly.

"You want to be a No. 1 team in the league, I think there's probably 20 of us that need more scoring then," Sutter said.

Since Jan. 1, the Kings are 7-5-5 and sit seventh in the Western Conference with 26 games remaining. Of those 26 games, only one comes against an Eastern Conference team (Boston on Mar. 24) and the rest are match-ups against teams either currently in a playoff spot in the West or within five points of the Kings.

No question, the Kings are in a dogfight out West. With the San Jose Sharks holding four games in hand three points ahead of them, the Pacific Division crown may be just out of reach at the moment. And with five teams breathing down their necks, Los Angeles doesn't have time to work out their offensive kinks.

"We're well-versed in it in the last few years with the same exact story. Maybe not to the extent this year," said Kings captain Dustin Brown.

"The longer this race goes, the more games you're gonna see that are gonna be that grind 1-1, 2-1. We gotta find ways to score. Our goalies have been real good all year. We gotta find a way to score two goals. We score two goals we win the game. We had more chances than them [the Islanders], we had more opportunities than them."

As Sutter said, most NHL teams are always wanting to find more scoring and by Feb. 27, a number of those teams will being trying to address that need heading into the final month and a half of the season. The Kings are a very top-heavy lineup and with injuries keeping Jarret Stoll and Simon Gagne out, Mike Richards was found centering Dwight King (six NHL games) and Jordan Nolan, son of former NHL coach Ted, who was making his debut. Not to mention Dustin Penner was a healthy scratch.

There are six games between now and the deadline for the Kings. Help has to be on its way.

Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy

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