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Kings start homestand without a goal in loss to the Red Wings

Kings start homestand without a goal in loss to the Red Wings
Kings left wing Kyle Clifford, left, looks for a rebound as Red Wings goalie Jared Coreau stops a shot during the second period Thursday. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The puck sat untouched in the middle of the crease but never made it much farther.

Nick Shore swung at it but did not connect.

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Brayden McNabb rushed toward the net and stabbed at it. Dwight King joined the crowd and soon it felt as if all the Kings, and an arena full of fans, were trying to will the puck into the net.

But it didn't work.

Little did for the Kings Thursday night in a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings at Staples Center, starting a seven-game homestand on a sour note.

Red Wings goalie Jared Coreau earned the first shutout of his young career, the Kings failing to score for the fifth time this season.

That's more than they were shut out all last season.

Jeff Zatkoff started in net for the Kings and was blitzed by three first-period goals that put his team in a deep hole. 

Jeff Carter paced the Kings’ offense during a home-and-home sweep of the San Jose Sharks heading into the game, but neither he nor any of his teammates grabbed the torch in the loss.

“Jeff Carter has kind of been carrying this team for us,” Kings center Jordan Nolan said. “It seems when he doesn’t get a goal or whatever it may be, no one steps up and fills that void.”

Zatkoff, making his first appearance since an overtime loss at Dallas on Dec. 23, appeared reasonably antsy before the puck dropped.

He was the Jonathan Quick’s backup coming into the season but was slowed by a groin injury before being supplanted by the steady Peter Budaj. Budaj appeared in 33 of 38 games heading into Thursday, which set up Zatkoff’s appearance against a Red Wings team that played in Anaheim on Wednesday night.

Standing 15 feet from the net, Zatkoff shifted in place as "The Star-Spangled Banner" was played. He bounced his weight from skate to skate. He crouched low and stared at nothing in particular.

Then he smacked his stick into the ice to start a forgettable first period.

The Red Wings scored on their first shot when Thomas Vanek snuck the puck past Zatkoff’s left skate. That was only 1 minute 42 seconds into the game.

A short time later, Andreas Athanasiou turned a Kevin Gravel turnover into a breakaway goal. That gave the Red Wings two goals on six shots. They made it three on 13 before the end of the period when Vanek knocked in a rebound for his second goal.

Athanasiou finished the first period with a goal and two assists. The Kings went scoreless on 12 first-period shots. They were gifted a penalty shot at 13:34, but Tanner Pearson's wrist shot found Jared Coreau's right pad.

“The goal in the second shift kind of puts your team down a little bit,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said of the slow start. “We tried to get the bench and everyone going, but then we kind of gave up another one right after that.”

The Kings outshot the Red Wings, 13-2, in the second period, and the Red Wings even went an entire power play without remotely testing Zatkoff. But the Red Wings could afford to sit back and turn most of the Kings' chances into hollow attempts.

That continued into the third until the Red Wings added to their cushion with Mantha's 10th goal of the season. A few fans beelined for the exits as Zatkoff fished the puck out of the back of the net, but a good portion remained in their seats. Most of them wore Red Wings colors. They, unlike their hosts, were having a pretty good night.

Twitter: @dougherty_jesse

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