They sped right past promising and energetic to sloppy and embarrassing and barely paused at mediocre.
Montreal defeated the Kings, 6-2, handing them their third loss in the last four games, and it was the first time the Kings have given up six goals in regulation this season. Kings goalie Martin Jones, who allowed three goals on the Canadiens' first eight shots, suffered his first loss in three starts.
This was a total contrast to the last time the Kings and Jones were here, when Jones led them to a 6-0 win over Montreal, on Dec. 10 of last season.
This time it was Montreal goalie Carey Price getting the well-deserved accolades, as he made 44 saves, including 16 when the Kings were on the man advantage. Kings captain Dustin Brown had a team-high eight shots on goal and forward Trevor Lewis had seven.
"We didn't get the job done tonight," Kings defenseman Matt Greene said. "Playing a sloppy game right now and giving up too much defensively."
Price kept Montreal in it under early pressure, until the opportunistic Canadiens scored consecutive power-play goals, one in the first and another in the second, and then added another at even strength to lead, 3-0, by the 3:45 mark of the second period.
"We had a lot of really good chances. We totally dominated the first period," Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said. "I think Carey Price was really, really good, wasn't he? We came in here and played really well. We know he's world class. We expected that.
"We had a lot of good chances. What I didn't like [on the man advantage], those are the guys that are supposed to finish the deal off, and Carey Price was a great penalty-killer too."
Rookie forward Jiri Sekac started and finished the scoring for Montreal. His second goal, which made it 6-0 at 16:26 of the third period, was highlight-reel worthy as he controlled the bouncing puck, nearly ran out of room but spun around and beat Jones from a nearly impossible angle.
"I think we came out with a good push early and didn't capitalize on chances," Muzzin said. "They got their opportunity and capitalized and took advantage of it. We were left wondering what's going on. We've got to look at some stuff and get hungry around the net."
The Kings' third defensive pair of Greene and Brayden McNabb had another rough night, particularly McNabb. They were a combined minus-four.
McNabb got caught up in ice on Montreal's fourth goal, leaving Greene back on a two-on-one, which David Desharnais finished off with a one-timer, making it 4-1, at 9:47 of the third.
"We make it 3-1 and then it's kind of a momentum thing, and they score that two-on-one goal on a not-very-good play by our defenseman," Sutter said.
The Kings are getting plenty of high-quality scoring chances. They outshot Montreal, 46-20, and the 46 shots is a season-high.
"It definitely stinks," Kings center Anze Kopitar said. "The first two periods were pretty decent and we were down 3-0. In the third, we just got away from our game plan and gave up way too many odd-man rushes. A team like this and the skill that they have, they're going to make you pay."