Drew Doughty sat down at his locker in a heap, like a sack of potatoes dropped from the top of the refrigerator.
Frustration has set in for the Kings, if it isn’t obvious.
They played with the puck frequently Monday, and there was a window for them to get back in the game with power plays late in the second period and early in the third. But the power-play drought, now at 0 for 21 to start the season, continued in a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena.
A catalyst on the unit who always speaks his mind, Doughty had no words.
“I have no idea,” Doughty said. “If I’d have known, we would fix it, and I don’t know.”
That will linger as they return home from a 1-3 trip. They outshot fast-skating Toronto 34-25 and took control of the second period. Ilya Kovalchuk scored to pull them to 2-1 before the Maple Leafs pulled away on goals by Mitch Marner and Kaspari Kapanen’s second score of the night.
Their final power play arrived more than two minutes into the third and it generated one shot, by Dion Phaneuf, from up top. While the man-advantage has looked better, the results are hurting them.
“It’s a matter of getting shots through and getting a dirty goal,” Tyler Toffoli said. “It’s one of those things, I think, where if one goes in, everyone’s going to stop talking about it.”
The talk going into Monday was how the Kings were going to handle Toronto’s high-paced attack. They didn’t look like plow horses but they couldn’t stem the Maple Leaf juggernaut.
Auston Matthews, the league scoring leader, recorded two assists to become the fifth player in NHL history to begin a season with multiple points in seven straight games. He has one point in each of his past 17 regular season games.
Matthews out-waited Doughty on a two-on-one to set up Kapanen for a smooth backhand past goalie Jack Campbell for a 4-1 edge. Derek Forbort turned the puck over to start the rush. Patrick Marleau scored a power-play goal in the first period to make Toronto 9 for 19 this season.
“They kind of have it all, to be honest,” Campbell said of Toronto. “They’re quick. They transition the puck really well. They’re creative. You think they’re going to shoot and they slide it backside. They’re a pretty talented group.”
Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen was scratched because of a reported knee injury, in favor of Garret Sparks, and the only puck they got by him was when Kovalchuk buried a quick pass from Alex Iafallo.
Kovalchuk is looking better with each game. But he still seeks his first power-play goal, like the Kings.
“I think the power play actually took a little bit of a step,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “But I think the whole idea of execution, to get in the zone and spend more time in the zone, is an area, certainly, that we’ve got to address this week. Just quicker puck movement with more momentum in moving to the net.”
Toronto signaled its offensive intentions with a goal 46 seconds in. Kapanen was left uncovered behind the net and banked it in off Campbell.
“I practice that every day,” Campbell said. “It’s a tough bounce. I don’t know the last time I’ve ever given one of those up. Tough break. It’s tough to start in this building 1-0. It just can’t go in. It’s that simple.”
The attention before the game was on Doughty in his annual stop through here, where he had family and friends visit. It wasn’t as frenzied as last season, when Doughty’s future was uncertain, and he said “hearing all those questions about me coming [to Toronto] was kind of fun.”
Doughty grew up watching the Maple Leafs and said, “I secretly want them to succeed, too, except for when they play us.”
His wish didn’t happen, and Doughty was left sulking.
“It sucks,” he said. “It sucks losing.”