Two games in, Kings looking for answers

Arizona Coyotes' Boyd Gordon, right, is defended by Los Angeles Kings' Matt Greene during the first period on Friday.

Arizona Coyotes’ Boyd Gordon, right, is defended by Los Angeles Kings’ Matt Greene during the first period on Friday.

(Jae C. Hong / AP)

Could it get more problematic?

Two days after the Kings’ season-opening stumble, the answer emerged at Staples Center.


The Arizona Coyotes scored four straight goals and went on to beat the Kings, 4-1, on Friday night. It was the second game for the Kings and the season opener for the Coyotes, who finished second to last in the Western Conference last season and are in a decidedly rebuilding mode.


Renovations on the fly seem in order for the Kings after a concerning start, two losses in which they’ve been outscored by a combined 9-2 and have managed to score one even-strength goal, by Nick Shore in the opener.

Arizona scored twice in the first period and added two more goals in the second, including goals on consecutive shots by rookie forward Max Domi, making his NHL debut, and second-year forward Tobias Rieder less than two minutes apart. The Coyotes scored all four goals on their first 10 shots.

As for the Kings, their lone goal came late in the second period, via a shorthanded effort by right wing Tyler Toffoli after Coyotes goalie Mike Smith made the initial save on center Jeff Carter’s breakaway bid. Toffoli scored 23 goals last season, six of them shorthanded, which led the league.

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter kept Toffoli and Carter together and looked for an answer on the other wing. He took Tanner Pearson off the line and tried Kyle Clifford on the left side, briefly, and later captain Dustin Brown, who has been sharper.

“A couple of those goals tonight were kind of unfortunate,” Toffoli said. “The first one kind of bounces up. I didn’t see it. It might have bounced over Quickie [goalie Jonathan Quick].

“It’s not just the way a game should start I thought we played well, thought we worked hard and stuck to the way we wanted to play. We didn’t get the bounces we needed tonight,” he said.

Kings defenseman Drew Doughty noted that they “didn’t play horrible,” adding: “I didn’t think it was a 4-1 hockey game. I thought we deserved a little better.”

Sutter tweaked his defense slightly for Friday’s contest, taking out Jeff Schultz and inserting Brayden McNabb, who was paired with Christian Ehrhoff. The other move was up front as forward Jordan Weal made his NHL debut, meaning center Andy Andreoff was the odd man out.

The Coyotes were by far the more opportunistic team to start, where the Kings had the edge everywhere in the first period but on the scoreboard.

Arizona scored on its first shot, by stay-at-home defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who had all of four goals last year. The Kings pretty much had all the possession from that point on, but couldn’t get any Grade A chances against Smith.

Arizona survived the Kings’ push and then got a second goal from a defenseman, this time from a more reliable offensive source, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who led NHL defensemen in goals last year with 23.

Ekman-Larsson found a soft spot in the Kings and snapped a shot past Quick for a 2-0 Arizona lead. The Coyotes scored twice on just six first-period shots.