Hockey seemed like an afterthought before the puck was dropped.
In a pregame moment to honor the victims of the mass shooting in Thousand Oaks and to raise awareness about violence, the Kings and Minnesota Wild held up signs that read “Enough.”
The image quickly spread on social media and set things in a bigger perspective at Staples Center. Once the game settled into its normal flow and rhythm, the Kings had difficulties with the smaller aspects of their game in a 3-1 loss on Thursday.
An early goal by defenseman Jake Muzzin seemed to put the Kings on another winning course in the second game under new coach Willie Desjardins, but Minnesota ran off the next two goals and ended the Kings’ modest two-game win streak.
The Kings looked back at a rare power-play goal allowed and three empty power plays, including one at the end before Minnesota scored an empty-net goal. Against an opponent that mirrored the Kings — both are among the older teams in the league with average age of 29, and known to play a defensive style — Minnesota showed why it has been able win with its method.
“Tight-checking, both teams, we just didn’t capitalize on some of our chances,” Muzzin said. “I didn’t think it was a lack of effort. I thought we played hard. I thought we played well.”
It was perhaps a sign of an awful start to the season that the Kings had their franchise-record sellout streak end at 297 games with an announced attendance of 17,621. The last non-sellout was in 2011.
But that didn’t take away from the emotion of the night. It affected Muzzin afterward.
“Waking up this morning to that, it makes you think about life a little bit differently,” Muzzin said. “I look over and I see my wife, it just makes you appreciate every day. Just like that, something terrible can happen. It’s heart-breaking for the families and everyone affected.”
Muzzin got his first goal this season on a carry across the neutral zone and a wrist shot that beat goalie Devan Dubnyk far side. But the Wild scored the next two goals. Zach Parise backhanded the puck through Jack Campbell’s pads late in the second period after Drew Doughty’s end-around pass was grabbed by Mikko Koivu.
Late in the first, Parise had time down low to shoot and then feed Nino Niederreiter in front, with Alec Martinez in the penalty box for hooking. That ended the Kings’ streak of 17 straight penalties killed, set over the previous five games.
Desjardins credited Minnesota’s stringent defense but wanted to see more rubber at Dubnyk, who poke-checked Tanner Pearson’s shot on a breakaway in what turned out to be a crucial save.
“We passed up some chances to shoot,” Desjardins said. “There were some shots there that if we put it to the net, maybe we could have got some traffic and some rebounds. But we had our chances, 2-1 game late and we got a power play, and we didn’t capitalize on it.”
Proceeds for victims