They scored on their first shot.
So there was that for the Kings.
Not a lot else went according to plan in the Kings’ season opener as an old rival, the San Jose Sharks, defeated them, 5-1, on Wednesday night at Staples Center.
San Jose was sparked by two first-period goals, an even-strength effort from Joe Thornton and one on the power play from Joe Pavelski.
They added two in the second period, Brent Burns at even strength and Tomas Hertl on the power play. Joonas Donskoi, making his NHL debut, scored in the third period. Pavelski had a three-point game.
The buzz and excitement about the first meaningful hockey game at Staples Center since mid-April quickly faded. The Sharks, who, like the Kings, didn’t reach the playoffs last season, built a three-goal lead by the end of the second period.
Now about that Kings goal on the first shot.
It came from one of the kids, Nick Shore, who was playing on a line with Dustin Brown and Trevor Lewis. Shore deflected Brown’s shot past goalie Martin Jones, the former King, at 1 minute 49 seconds of the first period.
That was it for the offensively challenged Kings — and where have you read that before? — who couldn’t get another one past the goalie they signed as a free agent in 2008. Jones learned his craft under the fine goaltending gurus of the Kings’ organization and watched and absorbed the work ethic and excellence of starting goalie Jonathan Quick.
But the protege upstaged the teacher Wednesday.
Quick has had less-than-memorable season openers for the Kings and this one will join that list. One of those was the Kings’ Stanley Cup banner-raising opener last season, a 4-0 loss to the Sharks, in which Jones mopped up for Quick in the third period.
This time, as well, Quick didn’t have a lot of help. Defenseman Jake Muzzin, coming off an upper-body injury late in preseason, was a minus-two. The Kings’ line of Milan Lucic-Anze Kopitar-Marian Gaborik were a combined minus-six. Lucic got a match penalty late in the game for running Logan Couture into the bench.
Veteran defenseman Matt Greene was a surprise insertion, having been injured in training camp. Coach Darryl Sutter had indicated Greene would not play in the opener, but changed his mind and took defenseman Brayden McNabb out of the lineup.
Jones appeared in 34 games over two seasons in his Kings’ tenure and was traded to the Boston Bruins in the Lucic deal in late June, and the Bruins quickly dealt him to the Sharks.
His two close friends on the Kings, linemates Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli, admitted it would be weird playing against Jones.
“I know when he stops the puck, he does a very good job of it,” Toffoli said at the morning skate. “We just know we have to find a way.
“It’s like any other game, really. We know he is going to make the first save.”
Toffoli, in fact, had some of the better chances on Jones, including a bid in close in the waning seconds of the second period.
It wouldn’t be a Kings-Sharks game without a hit being examined and reexamined. This time it was Brown’s hit on the Sharks’ Logan Couture in the first period, which was scrutinized and could receive attention from the NHL. Couture stayed in the game, however.
Bob McKenzie of TSN reported that the Kings and Mike Richards were working toward a settlement, trying to avoid arbitration of his terminated contract. An individual familiar with the situation said the sides were getting close but the matter was in the “league’s hands now.”