OTTAWA — A redux near the Rideau Canal materialized in the opening minutes.
Adrian Kempe rang a shot off the post at Canadian Tire Centre just after puck drop and looked like he was going to follow up his brilliant, two-goal performance here last season with another.
Then the game settled in. The Kings’ defense took a coffee break and the power play continued its drought in a 5-1 loss to the Ottawa Senators.
“We’ve definitely got to clean some things up,” said Trevor Lewis, who scored their only goal. “I think first and foremost it starts with our compete [level], right off the bat. We’ve got a good veteran group, so we’ll be better.”
The matinee loss was a step back from Thursday. Even prior to that, they needed to play better in front of goalie Jack Campbell, and it bit them Saturday with four goals allowed on 11 shots before Campbell was removed for Peter Budaj.
“We’ve got to do a lot better job of not making him face those types of quality chances, especially on the road in a big game,” Kings coach John Stevens said.
Stevens was annoyed because of lapses in areas he constantly stresses: defense and responding to bad stretches, notably after Kempe’s miss and two subsequent empty power plays.
“You re-group and you go again,” Stevens said. “I didn’t like the way those goals were scored. The pucks that we turned over that end up in the back of the net – we had bodies around our net that had position on us, and we had pucks on top that got through to the net. Those are all, to me, mental things that you can make a difference in if manage them in the right place.”
The power play remains scoreless (0 for 18) five games into the season, a dumbfounding streak with the addition of Ilya Kovalchuk. He was back at the point but was credited with one shot. The units looked much better in the second period, which constitutes progress.
“I thought we got some momentum, but … you’ve got to score goals,” Anze Kopitar said. “But I think we took a step in the right direction.”
The Kings went 0 for 16 in the first three games of last season and then went 5 for 9 in the following three games. Before they can think about that kind of reprise, they must look at their defense.
The Senators took a 3-0 lead in a first period the Kings spent looking for the puck. Chris Tierney tapped in Dylan DeMelo’s shot from the right side at 6:29. Chris Wideman got a backhand on a rebound at 11:50. Mark Stone converted another loose puck on the power play that just trickled over the goal line at 16:19.
Wideman scored again in the third period and Ottawa won without some of its better skaters in injured Ryan Dzingel and rookie Alex Formenton.
Stevens pulled Campbell after Colin White’s goal and said of Campbell that “he’s played a lot here lately.” The Kings broke up the routine Friday by kicking field goals, but shanked the start Saturday.
“We’ve got to do a better job of getting prepared for a game,” Muzzin said. “Soup’s [Campbell] been good for us all year, and we’ve got to be better for him. We weren’t early and they capitalized.”
Kings: Play at Toronto on Monday night.