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Vancouver shuts out ‘too soft,’ winless Kings

Kings forward Milan Lucic starts on a break away as Canucks forward Alex Burrows (14) and defenseman Dan Hamhuis (2) give chase during the second period of a game Oct. 13.

Kings forward Milan Lucic starts on a break away as Canucks forward Alex Burrows (14) and defenseman Dan Hamhuis (2) give chase during the second period of a game Oct. 13.

(Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

And it all started to unravel after the first 1 minute and 49 seconds of the season.

That, by the way, was when the first and only even-strength goal was scored by the Kings. They haven’t led in a game since then, losing their first three games, in differing and disconcerting fashion.

This time, they didn’t score once. The Vancouver Canucks beat the Kings, 3-0, on Tuesday night at Staples Center, sparked by second-period goals from unheralded Adam Cracknell and defenseman Alexander Edler, who scored from inside the left point. Their third goal came from Derek Dorsett, an empty-netter at 17:21 of the third.

One of the Kings, center Anze Kopitar, suggested that the team is playing “too soft” in some situations, and the evidence seemingly supports that.

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The panic button isn’t being hit … not yet.

“Obviously you don’t panic,” Kings defenseman Alec Martinez said. “We’ve got to give ourselves a kick in the rear pretty darn quick here.

“We have to play with a sense of urgency. We’re not doing that right now. And the list goes on and on.”

Canucks goalie Ryan Miller recorded his first shutout of the season and the 36th of his impressive career. He certainly wasn’t overworked, especially in the second period, facing a mere four shots, and he didn’t have to make any highlight reel saves.

Vancouver outshot the Kings, 26-15, overall.

In fact, the Canucks were playing their second game in two nights, having beat the Ducks in a shootout on Monday.

The Kings’ top line was flat in the season opener. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who was much better on Tuesday, was below his usual standard in Game 2 on Friday against the Arizona Coyotes.

Loss No. 3 featured other shortcomings. The Kings’ power play — which has yet to convert this season — went 0-3 and they were unable to generate any momentum when the Canucks took three straight minor penalties in the third period.

“We’re not doing the things that we’ve got to do to get the chances and the shots that are quality chances,” Kopitar said. “Whether that’s not coming in with possession or not recovering the puck the way we should.

“I just think we’re playing too soft to get the pucks back. When we chip the pucks back in, about 80% of the time, they come right back out with the puck. We’ve got to get some stops and some zone time.”

The Kings are 0-13 on the power play in three games and have one shorthanded goal, scored by Tyler Toffoli against the Coyotes.

The lone even-strength goal was by center Nick Shore against the San Jose Sharks. (That goal, incidentally, has been the only one allowed in three starts by Sharks goalie Martin Jones, who was once Quick’s backup.)

The Grade A scoring chances that the Kings had in the Arizona game all but dried up.

They were particularly sloppy in the neutral zone. Defenseman Matt Greene, who took back-to-back-minors in the second period, spent most of the third period on the bench.

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter made a number of modifications in practice this week, putting captain Dustin Brown with the duo of Kopitar and left wing Marian Gaborik.

This meant left wing Milan Lucic was with center Jeff Carter and right wing Toffoli. Left wing Tanner Pearson was dropped to the third line. Kopitar, Gaborik, Lucic and Pearson, among others, are pointless in three games.

“Coaches pencil everything out, over and over, but until you see it, you don’t know if it works,” Sutter said earlier in the day.

Follow Lisa Dillman on Twitter @reallisa


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