The locker room had emptied out, his teammates heading home, when Anze Kopitar finally emerged.

Medical treatment for an unspecified ailment had kept him around late, but that wasn't the only reason for the weary look on his face. Kopitar had endured a tough night against the Chicago Blackhawks, managing only one shot on goal.

"Yeah," he said. "It's frustrating."

Last year at this time, the Kings center was piling up points, recording eight goals and a dozen assists on his team's run to the Stanley Cup. His teammate, Dustin Brown, was on a similar roll, the two of them leading the offense.

This postseason, Kopitar and Brown have combined for 11 points — roughly a quarter of their output in 2012 — which goes a long way toward explaining why the Kings trail Chicago three games to one with the Western Conference finals set to resume Saturday night at United Center.

As Coach Darryl Sutter said early in the series: "We have guys that have to score."

It is an axiom in sports: The best players must shine at playoff time. That's especially true for the Kings, a physical, defense-minded team that needs bursts of offense to complement Jonathan Quick's goaltending.

A two-goal average has not been good enough. For Kopitar and Brown, who have struggled around the net for the past month, the current series has proven especially troublesome.

Kopitar has rarely been free to execute his trademark maneuver, wheeling along the boards with the puck on his stick, using that 6-foot-3 frame to ward off defenders. There has been much speculation about a lingering injury, which he has refused to discuss.

Either way, Chicago's agile skaters have done a good job of denying him and Brown the space to make plays.