TAMPA, Fla. — The goalie was sharp, right from the opening shift. The team attacked with impressive speed up the middle. And its best players were the best players on Tuesday night, finishing with opportunistic flair.
This description happens to fit the Tampa Bay Lightning, not the frustrated Kings.
The Lightning scored 19 seconds into the game and went on to beat the Kings, 5-1, handing them their first loss in four games.
Tampa Bay goalie Ben Bishop remained unbeaten this season and the ageless Martin St. Louis scored twice and added an assist. And so, the Kings' winning streak ended with an emphatic thud at Tampa Bay Times Forum.
"We've got to regroup after this game, throw it out and realize we need a lot better effort and a lot better detail out of our game," Kings defenseman Matt Greene said.
That hollow sound from Tampa could have been many things:
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick getting pulled for the second time in six starts this season, after giving up three goals on 17 shots. He was replaced by Ben Scrivens with 3:38 remaining in the second period after he yielded a big rebound that led to Tampa Bay's third goal, from St. Louis, which made it, 3-0.
Kings defensemen Drew Doughty and Robyn Regehr were a combined minus-seven. In fact, the number-crunchers at the Canadian cable network, TSN, determined that Doughty's minus-four was the worst plus-minus rating of his career, including regular-season and playoff games.
For perspective, Doughty has played in 371 regular-season games and 50 more in the playoffs.
The Kings' power play generated plenty of quality chances but could not break through. They had a massive amount of time with the man advantage, 9 minutes 54 seconds but went 0 for 5. The lone goal came at even strength when defenseman Slava Voynov scored at 10:27 of the third period, cutting Tampa Bay's lead to 3-1.
There was no shortage of quality chances from the Kings, who had 31 shots on goal. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter had center Anze Kopitar on a line with right wing Jeff Carter at practice Monday but ended up going back to his previous line combinations.
"We just can't put the puck in the net, or at least not enough times," said Kopitar, who has not scored in seven games. "Especially the power play tonight definitely let us down.
"Five power plays and not be able to convert on any of it is not very good."
There was speed and skill from Tampa Bay, frustration from the Kings and one official's call that appeared to be dubious.
With the Kings trailing 2-0 in the second period, an apparent goal by Carter was waved off when it was ruled Mike Richards had made incidental contact with Bishop. Richards thought otherwise and said he was trying to avoid contact.
"My opinion? I did not agree with it," he said. "But not much you can do about it after. "I think it was [Sami] Salo hit me. I was around the net and think he even tried to push off me, or push me away. I was just trying to avoid him. I don't know why that was the call," added Richards, who saw it as a momentum swing but added, "We have to react a little better to some adversity."
Sutter declined to critique the officiating. "What's the point?" he said.
The Kings went on to dominate the Lightning in the second period, but by the end of it, Quick was on the bench.
Sutter has cited momentum and the need for more saves to make a goalie change.
"Both. We clearly outplayed them in the second period and we were still down," Sutter said. "Their goaltender was outstanding."