Kings show promise in opening-season loss, but there is plenty of room for improvement

Minnesota's Kirill Kaprizov scores an overtime goal against the Kings' Jonathan Quick to give the Wild the victory on Thursday.
Minnesota’s Kirill Kaprizov ratings an overtime objective versus the Kings’ Jonathan Quick to offer the Wild the triumph on Thursday. (Associated Press)

Keep in mind hockey? Keep in mind the Kings?

Not able to split the 24-team playoff field put together last summer season to complete the pandemic-delayed 2019-20 season, the Kings needed to wait more than 10 months to resume a restoring procedure that was getting traction simply as the NHL came to a stop. They went back to the ice on Thursday thinking the worst of their battles was over, which they might contend for a postseason berth in the brand-new West Department after powerhouses Vegas, Colorado, and St. Louis.

They’ll need to wait a bit longer to evaluate their development. The Kings’ 4-3 overtime loss to Minnesota was a collection of excellent, energetic objectives and appallingly bad passes, of fancy speed from beginner Andreas Athanasiou and experienced Jeff Carter and dispiriting defensive plays that shouldn’t have actually occurred, even in a season opener that followed a 10-month break.

The 3-1 lead the Kings held early in the 3rd duration was eliminated practically solitarily by the luster of Russian forward Kirill Kaprizov. Playing in his very first NHL video game, Kaprizov turned Kings defenseman Olli Maatta into a revolving door more than as soon as. On the winner, Kaprizov selected off a drop pass Kings forward Dustin Brown had actually left for colleague Drew Doughty and beat goaltender Jonathan Quick individually 3 minutes and 47 seconds into sudden-death play.

“This one’s going to sting a little bit,” Kings captain Anze Kopitar stated throughout a postgame webinar. “I think we gave it away in the third. I mean, credit to them. They made some good plays. But we should be able to lock that down going into the third. It can’t happen too many more times going forward.”

It must trouble them, a minimum of if they’re major about taking that difficult next advance as a group. “We don’t expect to score four every night. We should be able to produce three on a steady basis, but not four,” coach Todd McLellan stated. “We were on the wrong end of that tonight.”

Minnesota scored initially, at 16:06 of the very first duration, however the Kings got an increase from scoring with 3 seconds left in the duration. Carter, who hadn’t played considering that last Feb. 23 and had actually gone through core muscle surgical treatment in June, went to the web to tidy up a rebound of a shot by Kopitar and left with his very first objective considering that Feb. 12.

A four-on-four objective by Athanasiou, enabled by his strong chemistry with Carter, put the Kings ahead at 7:12 of the 2nd duration. “He’s been playing unbelievable. Even in practice you can see he’s got another gear,” Athanasiou stated of Carter. “He’s really got a lot of speed, so I had to get on my high horse there and just try to keep up with him. He made a great play and I think he was really good for us tonight. … He’s a beast.”

Brown provided a 3-1 lead throughout a power play when his shot went off a Minnesota protector at 17:05 of the 2nd duration, and the Kings appeared to be in control. “They weren’t pretty goals. They were ugly, in-the-paint, battle-type goals, and for us, we’re looking for more this year. We didn’t get enough last year,” McLellan stated.

The Kings' Dustin Brown, center, battles for the puck during Thursday's game.
The Kings’ Dustin Brown, center, fights for the puck throughout Thursday’s video game. (Associated Press)

Up until now, so excellent. The Kings eliminated 5 charges in the duration, consisting of one drawback when Quick was seriously evaluated 4 times. “I thought the second period was the best one today,” Kopitar stated, “but we need to address what happened in the third and clean it up.”

The Wild roared back in the 3rd as the Kings attempted to restore a circulation that had actually been disrupted by the charge eliminating they needed to perform in the 2nd duration. Maatta and Doughty were on the ice for Minnesota’s 2nd and 3rd objectives.

“We were just holding back a little bit too much,” Kopitar stated. “Obviously, the desperation kicked in for them and we didn’t play particularly well in our own zone, didn’t make hard enough plays to get the puck out of the zone and into their zone to kind of establish the forecheck and create some amount of momentum, and it came back to bite us.”

It was one video game of 56, played after a ridiculously long time away and with another video game versus Minnesota to follow on Saturday. Don’t check out excessive into it, however don’t neglect the defects, either. “It’s definitely a good feeling just to get back in the rhythm of things,” Athanasiou stated. “Obviously it’s kind of a little bittersweet night. Good to be back out there, obviously unfortunate that we didn’t come out with the ‘W’ but we got one point, so you’ve got to take the positives and move forward.”

Amongst the positives: Quick was sharp and was blameless on Minnesota’s objectives. McLellan applauded the steadiness of defensemen Matt Roy and Mikey Anderson. The Maatta-Doughty set, not a lot. “I think they had some good moments and there were some obvious moments, I don’t know if you can stack it up to them as a pair. Maybe individually there were moments that one of them would like to have back,” stated McLellan, who offered Doughty a tremendous 29 minutes and 12 seconds’ ice time. “That’s where we’re at. They’ll be better.”

The whole group will need to be much better or run the risk of missing out on the playoffs and withstanding another long layoff. They understand it. “I think there was ups and downs throughout the game that took us on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, ending with the down part,” McLellan said, “however there’s a great deal of things we succeeded in the video game, things that we can develop off of, and definitely locations that we need to tidy up.”

This story initially appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.