The Kings had appeared to right the ship after a sluggish start, but in the blink of an eye, a one-goal game that they were very much in became a 3-0 deficit. Colorado scored two power-play goals in less than two minutes later in the second period to open up an advantage it would not relinquish.
The Kings fought back in the third period, with Andreas Athanasiou’s bar-down snipe midway through jolting some life into the group. Adrian Kempe scored on a one-timer, a power-play goal, to bring the Kings to within one, but they couldn’t find that equalizer down the stretch to force what could have been a third consecutive overtime period to start the season.
Anze Kopitar collected another multi-point night, his second from three games this season, with assists on both Kings goals. With the secondary helper on Athanasiou’s goal, defenseman Mikey Anderson collected his first career NHL assist. Cal Petersen made his season debut, as he made 21 saves.
Hear from Athanasiou, Petersen and Todd McLellan below.
On getting back in net tonight for his season debut
It felt really good. We had that really long break, so there’s a little bit of rust to shake off I think, but I’m obviously very grateful to be back in the net, back playing for these guys, but I wanted to get the win tonight too.
On the team’s response after a slow start to the game
I think we started playing at their pace. They’re a really fast team, and I think we’re fast as well. Instead of sitting back and letting them come to us, we took it to them and I think that was evident in the 5-on-5 play. We really did a good job, and guys really shut it down defensively, they didn’t get much after [the first goal].
On if his approach changes at all, when facing a PP unit like Colorado’s, with quick puck movement
It’s definitely a factor. They have a lot of high-profile players, guys who like to shoot in certain situations, they’re all guys that are shooters and also playmakers. It’s one of those things where it’s not really each guy has a designated position, I think they all have those strengths. I think that’s what makes it challenging, is they can score from any area. It’s just maintaining depth for me, and making sure I don’t over commit and give up a play to the back side. I think that’s one of the things that the guys did well, is keeping things to one side and not too many seam plays.
On if the team made any adjustments to create more Grade-A scoring chances in the third
We flipped some lines around a little bit, re-tooled those, and I thought we got more aggressive in the third period. We had nothing to lose, so we went after them a little bit more. Our power play moved it around with a little more authority than we did earlier in the game, quicker, firmer and as a result we got a couple. It’s still what we’re giving up that’s concerning, and a lot of it is coming from penalties again.
On the line changes, and moving Moore with Iafallo and Kopitar in the third
A little bit of a spark. I thought Trevor, over the last two games, has skated really well, and I thought Kopi, that line, needed a little bit more pace, so we went there with Trevor. Brownie fit the other line, the third line, quite well too. We’ll see where we are tomorrow with those, we’ll watch it again, and figure out what we’re doing moving forward.
On the spark that the Athanasiou goal gave the team down the stretch
It obviously gave us a chance, it gave us a sense of belief. Before that, we had limited Grade-A chances that weren’t going in. When he scored, the bench perked up a little bit more. We thought, or we believed, that we could earn a power play, we knew we had to score on that. Andreas’ goal allowed us to wade our back into the game, and it did give us a spark.
On his “big picture” takeaways through three games
I think when we look at our game, we look at it 5-on-5, and I’m comfortable with where we’re at in those situations. I think we can be cleaner, I think we can be quicker, better execution, but we’re not giving up as much as we did at the beginning of last year, so that’s a good spot to be in. Special teams, I’m still not completely happy with the power play, I think there’s still work to be done, and our penalty kill up until this point has been good. For me, it’s still the mental and game management situations that really have to get polished up. You can look at the penalties, there’s maybe one that’s arguable, the Carter penalty, whether or not it’s a good call, the rest of the penalties it’s not even close. We’ve got to find a way to get around that and stay out of the box. You only have to go back to the outdoor game last year when we started to really play well and got on a bit of a roll. We didn’t give Colorado a single penalty in that situation, and it allowed us to stay in the game. Tonight, it took us out of the game.
– Andreas Athanasiou became the third player in LA Kings franchise history to score a goal in his first three games with the club. With three goals this season, Athanasiou is tied with several players for third in the NHL in goals, one off the league lead.
– With two assists tonight, Anze Kopitar moved over a point-per-game in his NHL career against Colorado. Kopitar now has 49 points (17-32-49) from 48 games against the Avalanche.
– Mikey Anderson collected his first career NHL assist with the secondary helper on Athanasiou’s goal. Anderson’s first career NHL goal also came at STAPLES Center, against Colorado, back on March 9, 2020.
– The regulation loss was just the third for the Kings in their last 12 games against Colorado, and their third in the last 14 meetings between the two teams at STAPLES Center.
– The Kings scored their first goals in the third period tonight and conceded both their first two power-play goals of the season, as well as their first goals in the second period this season.
– The Kings have been shorthanded for the third most total time (27:48), and are averaging 9:28 of shorthanded time on a per game basis, the most in the NHL.
The Kings are back on the ice tomorrow at 11 AM at Toyota Sports Performance Center.