No bad vibes needed to be expunged from the building.
After recent years of mostly misery in old Joe Louis Arena, the Kings started fresh Tuesday with their first game at Little Caesars Arena. And they began anew by tapping into their own past glory.
Jonathan Quick was at his unbreakable best with two phenomenal saves in the second period to drive the Kings to a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Anze Kopitar matched his season total from last season with his 11th and 12th goals. Dustin Brown got it started with his 10th goal, and Drew Doughty turned in one of his stronger games this season.
“The Joe wasn’t that great for us,” Kopitar said. “We’ve won some big games in there, but I think we still had a losing record. Coming in here was a little bit [of a] refreshing feeling.”
Quick denied Dylan Larkin and Gustav Nyquist to sway a second period initially given to Detroit and its forecheck. The first stop had Larkin hitting his stick on the bench in frustration and the second saw Quick make the stop while skating backward. Brown said he doesn’t bother to look at those highlight replays anymore.
“I’ve played with him for 10 years, so I’ve seen about 400 of those saves,” Brown said. “The best way I can explain it is playing in the Olympics. Everybody else who hasn’t played with him is like jaws on the ground, and I’m [like], ‘Let’s go.’”
Quick’s 23 saves ended his personal six-game losing streak in Detroit, dating to 2010.
“Some goalies are really good goalies, but to make key saves at key times, he’s as good as there is,” Kings coach John Stevens said.
Kopitar reached 12 goals in his 25th game, as opposed to 76 games last season. He finished a one-two-three passing sequence on the power play to make it 2-1 with 6.1 seconds to go in the second period, and used Jonathan Ericsson as a screen for his second goal in the third period.
Kopitar faced the usual questions about fatigue last season from the World Cup and pressure from his contract extension. He said the biggest difference is between his ears.
“I’m feeling good this year, and maybe that’s the biggest reason,” Kopitar said. “I’m feeling, obviously, confident again. I guess a big part of it is confidence too, and having a good start, myself and the team, so it makes it a lot more fun.”
After Mike Green gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead in the first period, Brown’s turnaround shot from the left side, with an assist from Kopitar, was threaded to the far side of the net with 2:17 left in the second period. Brown then induced Darren Helm into an interference penalty at mid-ice to set up Kopitar’s first goal.
Adrian Kempe made it 3-1 with his eighth goal of the season and Kopitar finished it off to further muffle the announced 19,515 fans.
Brown’s 10 goals are approaching the 14 he scored in 80 games last season. He liked the new building except for one aspect.
“The ice was not the best,” Brown said. “[The puck] was rolling. I wish they had that type of ice 10 years ago with the teams they had here. It would have helped.”
Andy Andreoff (upper body) was placed on injured reserve, retroactive to Nov. 25. … Bob Miller will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the L.A. Sports Council on Feb.6. The Hall of Fame broadcaster joins Vin Scully and Peter Ueberroth as honorees.