The joyride ended with a walk down the tunnel in a huff, the seething noticeable in Jonathan Quick’s waddle.
The Kings finally lost a game in regulation, eight games into their season. Coach John Stevens cited the Toronto Maple Leafs as their biggest challenge to date, and he was right as his team had difficulty handling their speed and forechecking in a 3-2 loss in front of 19,235 fans at Air Canada Centre.
What Stevens didn’t foresee was an eventful game for Quick, who capped his Monday night with a boiled-over roughing penalty with 2:05 remaining that practically ended the best start in franchise history.
The Kings were 6-0-1 and knew the party would end eventually.
“You never want to think like that,” Trevor Lewis said. “But obviously I don’t think anyone’s won 82 games in a row.”
Quick was penalized for pushing Leo Komarov as Komarov skated through the slot. Quick fumed since a strange episode in the first period when he was told to leave the game by the NHL’s concussion evaluators because he took an elbow from Zach Hyman.
Backup Darcy Kuemper replaced Quick as he made his way to the dressing room. But Quick immediately returned to the net while Kings coaches argued with officials. Finally, Quick went to the bench and sat out the rest of the period.
Stevens said the league reviewed it a second time and determined Quick did not have to be removed. But Stevens said he was told that if there’s an injury on the ice, the player has to “come out for one play.”
Stevens clearly wasn’t right with Quick’s penalty but couldn’t criticize him after a 30-save night, including two big stops in the first period.
“He’s a real fiery competitor and I think emotion in his game is a good thing,” Stevens said. “It’s not an ideal situation to be short-handed for the last two minutes of a hockey game, but he’s a stand-up guy and I’m sure he knows that.”
Quick said he came out fine from the elbow but did not want to discuss the protocol incident.
“I don’t know what the … happened there,” Quick said. “I don’t know what happened. You have to ask the league.”
Lewis gave the Kings life with a breakaway short-handed goal to make it 3-2 with 6:41 remaining. It gave him five points in three games. Adrian Kempe scored on an impressive snap shot that beat Frederik Andersen in the second period after Andersen stopped the first 28 shots.
But the Kings chased the puck frequently and paid for it. Toronto scored first on Matt Martin’s deflection as he crowded Quick. Tyler Bozak chipped in a puck on the power play, and Patrick Marleau tipped Morgan Rielly’s point shot early in the third period.
The Maple Leafs let the Kings back into the game, though, which made it tougher to swallow.
“I think we played well when we pushed in the other half of the game,” Kempe said. “I think we deserved another goal.”
Gabe Vilardi has been cleared to start skating, a team official said. Vilardi, the Kings’ first-round draft pick this year, has been out since the summer because of a back strain.
When: Tuesday, 4:30 p.m. PDT.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 790.
Update: Ottawa lost Bobby Ryan to a broken finger for about a month Saturday. It still has Erik Karlsson, who has six assists in his past two games and will be showcased with Drew Doughty as two of the past three Norris Trophy winners.