Jonathan Quick let in a howler of a goal early in the third period, but that’s not why the Kings lost to the New York Rangers 3-1 on Monday night at Staples Center. His misplay of a 175-foot zone-clearing pass was merely the most noteworthy one of an opening night filled with blunders.
Quick wasn’t happy to be the poster boy for all that went haywire, however.
“Play 60 minutes and that’s the question?” he asked when reporters surrounded him and asked about the Rangers’ third goal. “You try to stop the puck for your teammates, that’s the thought process. Everybody gives up bad goals. It’s part of the game.”
In many ways, the game resembled the disjointed exhibitions both teams hoped they had put behind them during training camp last month. There were turnovers aplenty and scoring chances that seemed to come out of nowhere because of sloppy defensive work.
The Rangers’ first visit to Staples Center since Feb. 2, 2010 figured to be a duel between Quick of the Kings and Henrik Lundqvist, his New York counterpart. It was all that and more thanks to an epic blooper-reel goal Quick gave up with the Rangers ahead 2-1 early in the third.
With the Kings on a power play, the Rangers’ Brian Boyle won a faceoff in New York’s end. The puck went to Ryan McDonagh, who was stationed just off the inner part of the circle. He whipped the puck off the dasher boards and into the Kings’ end.
Quick moved out of his net to cut off the puck, but stumbled and lost control of his stick. The puck glanced off the right goalie pad of a prone Quick and settled into the back of the net, giving the Rangers a 3-1 lead 4 minutes, 39 seconds into the final period.
Lundqvist turned away the Kings the rest of the way, making 28 saves by game’s end. He also denied the Kings’ Jordan Nolan’s point-blank try after Nolan outskated two New York defenders to break in on the goalie all alone just moments after Quick’s misplay.
When asked after the game for an explanation of what happened, Quick bristled.
“You’re going to write your story on that one goal?” Quick asked.
If anything, Kings fans among a sellout of 18,118 were far harder on Quick than reporters. They gave him a mock cheer after he stopped a long-distance shot not long after McDonagh’s goal. Quick then gave a curt wave of his glove to acknowledge their jeers.
“Nobody wanted to get a 4-3 win more than everyone on that bench,” Kings right wing Justin Williams said. “Stuff like that happens within a game. To a man, we simply weren’t good enough. We got out-battled. Our five-on-five scoring is nonexistent and unacceptable.”
Kings captain Dustin Brown also defended Quick in no uncertain terms.
“I think the most important thing is ‘Quckie’ knows we have his back in here,” Brown said. “For every one of those goals he lets in, he stops about 75 that he shouldn’t (stop). So, I’ve always said it’s about the guys in this room picking each other up.
“After how many times he’s picked us up, it’s unfortunate we couldn’t do that for him.”