Paging Jeff Carter. Mr. Carter to the stalemate at Staples Center immediately, please.
The standoff that the Kings were engaged in against the Dallas Stars practically cried out for that kind of announcement over the public-address system. For more than 50 minutes the teams struggled to form scoring chances, let alone scores. It was the type of tug-of-war display that needed a finisher like Carter, who practiced with the Kings earlier Thursday and is not yet available in his recovery from a leg injury.
The Kings instead succumbed to the methodical, tight checking of Dallas in a 2-0 loss at Staples Center. They lost a game in which Jonathan Quick allowed one goal, on Tyler Seguin's deflection in the third period. Dallas got an 18-save shutout from Kari Lehtonen and an empty-net goal in front of the announced 18,230 fans at Staples Center.
"There's not a lot of room out there," said the Kings' Jake Muzzin. "We can't get frustrated in those tight games. We've got to stay with it and dig a little deeper. We came up a little short."
Seguin won a faceoff against Adrian Kempe and got his stick on Greg Pateryn's shot from the right side at 8:27. Alexander Radulov added the empty-net goal.
If it seemed like the Kings were playing a cloned version of themselves, it might be because Dallas coach Ken Hitchcock is a longtime mentor for Kings coach John Stevens. The two share a similar philosophy of sparking offense from defense. Their top players are required to be mindful without the puck. So it was not shocking that a subdued, defensive matchup unfolded.
Nothing resembling a scoring chance materialized in the first period. It remained scoreless through two periods because Quick made 13 saves, including three impressive stops highlighted by his outstretched left leg on John Klingberg's try.
"I thought we didn't manage the puck well enough against their checking, so not only did we spend a little too much time in our zone, we didn't generate enough offensively," Stevens said. "Details in games like that matter."
The Kings debuted Tobias Rieder and he was noticeable. He was added for his speed and showed it on a nice burst on a wraparound attempt in the scoreless opening period. He took Kyle Clifford's spot at third line left wing, with Nate Thompson and Tyler Toffoli, hours after his first practice with his new team in the morning. Rieder sounded pumped up to go to a familiar divisional rival relevant in a playoff chase.
"The Kings are a well-known organization so you always look up to them and you think that, what if I play for them?" Rieder said. "And now it's happening. I'm just really excited."
Rieder might have still been running on adrenaline after a whirlwind turnaround from Arizona to Southern California.
"A shout-out to my girlfriend," he said. "She did a great job packing."
Jack Campbell was recalled and backed up Quick. Scott Wedgewood, who arrived with Rieder in the trade with the Arizona Coyotes, practiced with the Kings, who are expected to carry three goalies until it is decided otherwise.