Jonathan Quick fished the puck out of his net and sent it down the ice with a fling that showed his disdain.
This was only after the Kings gave up their third goal. Then came a fourth goal, and a fifth and a sixth. In a game they could have used to get back to their defensive identity, not only did the Kings fail spectacularly Thursday, they drifted into disinterest.
“First of all, it’s embarrassing,” Alec Martinez said after a 7-2 loss to the New York Islanders at Staples Center.
“I think we have some soul-searching to do. I think what happened there at the end was unacceptable. It’s not about a guy in particular, it’s all of us. We’ve got to figure some things out.”
Quick returned from a lower-body injury in his first appearance since the season opener, and not even his presence could prevent an unofficial free fall: The Kings have been outscored, 16-4, in three games, and it’s fair to wonder where the answers will come from after they gave up a short-handed goal in the third period.
“Totally went to sleep,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “[We] gave up a really easy short-handed there and just stopped playing. I’m disappointed, to be honest with you.”
Anze Kopitar was scratched before the game because of illness, and the absence of the NHL’s best defensive forward could not have been more pronounced. The Kings ended their season-long power-play slump on Tyler Toffoli’s goal in the first period, then surrendered two goals in the second period and four in the third period to a team that played the night before, with its backup goalie.
The fourth Islanders goal was on a short-handed two-on-none, Valtteri Filppula’s second of the game. Leo Komarov’s goal marked the end of the night for Quick, who was pulled for Jack Campbell at 6-2. The Islanders added another to make Jeff Carter’s goal to make it 3-2 more of an afterthought.
The power play finally broke through with Toffoli’s deflection of Drew Doughty’s shot late in the first period. Without Kopitar, they used the four-forward approach, with Alex Iafallo, and moved the puck high for Doughty to find a lane. Toffoli tipped his shot high into the goal to end the streak at 0 for 22.
Sheldon Rempal drew the penalty that got the power play when Komarov slashed him as he attempted to shoot the puck up top in the Islanders’ end. Rempal made his NHL debut in front of his family and admitted it was a damper.
“You dream of playing in the NHL but you don’t [want] your first game like that,” Rempal said. “It’s just kind of how the puck was bouncing tonight.”
As much as the power play is an issue, the Kings’ top-ranked penalty-killing unit from last season has fallen off a cliff. It allowed its sixth goal this season on Josh Bailey’s shot past a screened Quick at 3:43 of the second period. The power play came courtesy of Adrian Kempe’s second of his minor penalties of the game, in the offensive zone.
Last season, the Kings allowed six power-play goals over the final 23 regular-season games. Stevens was at a loss afterward to explain where they go from here.
“I don’t have an answer for you right now,” Stevens said. “We’re better than that.”