LOS ANGELES — The Kings home opener was neither pretty nor polite.
The Kings sold out the Staples Center for the 69th consecutive game Monday night, but a costly defensive miscue led those fans to jeer one of the team’s heroes as Los Angeles ultimately fell 3-1 to the visiting Rangers.
Down 2-1 with the power play on and 4:39 left in the third period, Ryan McDonagh sent the puck from the defensive faceoff circle careening off the boards and in the direction of the Kings goal.
Jonathan Quick came out of the net and dropped his stick right as the puck bounced off of him and into the goal.
McDonagh was credited with the shorthanded goal that ultimately pushed the game out of reach for the Kings, and gave the Rangers (1-1) their first win of the season.
A despondent Quick said little about the goal after the game.
“You’re trying to stop the puck for your teammates,” Quick said. “That’s the thought process…
“Everybody gives up bad goals. That’s part of the game.”
The life was taken out of the once-rowdy crowd. Just moments later, Quick made a spectacular stop to a Brad Richards slap shot which was met with mixed results: Some booed him, some mocked him.
His teammates, however, tried to rally for him.
“Nobody wanted to get a 4-3 win more than everybody on that bench right there for that but stuff like that happens within a game,” said Justin Williams. “We simply were not good enough. We got out-played, out-battled.”
Quick received no tough love from head coach Darryl Sutter.
“There’s nothing to talk about – he dropped his stick,” Sutter said. “What do you want to talk about, tell him not to drop his stick? It’s his job to stop the puck.”
Knowing that Quick is ultimately not a big-picture type of problem, Sutter managed to joke about the situation. But the Kings (1-2) have now lost two in a row and turnovers and 5-on-5 scoring could potentially be problematic moving forward.
“Our 5-on-5 scoring is nonexistent,” Williams said. “You can search for any excuses you want but our 5-on-5 scoring needs to improve. You can’t just rely on a power play, you need to get dirty, and we have not done that yet.”
Sutter felt the issue had more to do with execution and personnel. Despite Jake Muzzin’s goal, he didn’t hesitate to say that he would absolutely bench Muzzin should the defenseman continue his sloppiness with the puck.
“When you have the puck in your stick and you give it up to the other team that’s a top player turnover not a team turnover,” Sutter said. “Muzzin, he’s going to have to learn how not to turn the puck over. He wants to play, period.”