Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Kings can’t slow Avalanche’s top line in season opener

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  • The Kings’ Pierre-Luc Dubois, right, takes a shot on Colorado...

    The Kings’ Pierre-Luc Dubois, right, takes a shot on Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Kevin Fiala, left, digs the puck out from...

    The Kings’ Kevin Fiala, left, digs the puck out from the boards as the Colorado Avalanche’s Josh Manson defends during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Kings goaltender Cam Talbot makes a glove save during the...

    Kings goaltender Cam Talbot makes a glove save during the first period of their season opener against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • The Kings’ Anze Kopitar, right, takes a shot on Colorado...

    The Kings’ Anze Kopitar, right, takes a shot on Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Colorado Avalanche’s Devon Toews, left, shoots the puck up...

    The Colorado Avalanche’s Devon Toews, left, shoots the puck up the ice the Kings’ Trevor Moore defends during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, right, and Colorado Avalanche center Ross...

    Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, right, and Colorado Avalanche center Ross Colton battle for the puck during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • The Kings’ Pierre-Luc Dubois, right, tries to get a shot...

    The Kings’ Pierre-Luc Dubois, right, tries to get a shot off against Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Quinton Byfield, left, and the Colorado Avalanche’s Devon...

    The Kings’ Quinton Byfield, left, and the Colorado Avalanche’s Devon Toews battle for the puck during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Kings fans hold signs against the glass during the team’s...

    Kings fans hold signs against the glass during the team’s season opener against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Kings goaltender Cam Talbot, front, is scored on by Colorado...

    Kings goaltender Cam Talbot, front, is scored on by Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon as defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov, center, and right wing Mikko Rantanen watch during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon celebrates after scoring during the...

    Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon celebrates after scoring during the first period of their season opener against the Kings on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • The Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon, left, celebrates with teammate Mikko...

    The Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon, left, celebrates with teammate Mikko Rantanen after scoring a goal during the first period of their season opener against the Kings on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Kings’ Mikey Anderson, right, reacts as he absorbs a...

    The Kings’ Mikey Anderson, right, reacts as he absorbs a hit from the Colorado Avalanche’s Valeri Nichushkin during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, left, moves the puck as...

    Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, left, moves the puck as Kings defenseman Mikey Anderson reaches in during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Kings goaltender Cam Talbot makes a save in front of...

    Kings goaltender Cam Talbot makes a save in front of the Colorado Avalanche’s Jonathan Drouin, left, and the Kings’ Mikey Anderson during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Actor Will Ferrell, right, watches as Kings goaltender Cam Talbot...

    Actor Will Ferrell, right, watches as Kings goaltender Cam Talbot skates by during the first period of their season opener against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • The Kings’ Phillip Danault, left, and the Colorado Avalanche’s Cale...

    The Kings’ Phillip Danault, left, and the Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar battle for the puck during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Carl Grundstrom, right, can’t get this shot in...

    The Kings’ Carl Grundstrom, right, can’t get this shot in as Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev protects his net during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Colorado Avalanche’s Ross Colton, right, plays the puck in...

    The Colorado Avalanche’s Ross Colton, right, plays the puck in front of the Kings’ Mikey Anderson, center, and Colorado’s Valeri Nichushkin during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Kings’ Phillip Danault, left, and the Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan...

    The Kings’ Phillip Danault, left, and the Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon battle for the puck along the boards during the first period of the season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon, left, skates around the Kings’...

    The Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon, left, skates around the Kings’ Mikey Anderson during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Kings captain Anze Kopitar, front, collects a rebound in front...

    Kings captain Anze Kopitar, front, collects a rebound in front of the Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon (29) during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon, right, takes the puck from...

    The Colorado Avalanche’s Nathan MacKinnon, right, takes the puck from the Kings’ Trevor Moore during the first period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar, right, celebrates with Ryan Johansen,...

    The Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar, right, celebrates with Ryan Johansen, left, and Artturi Lehkonen after scoring to give his team a 2-0 lead during the second period of their season opener against the Kings on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, left, tries to get a shot...

    Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, left, tries to get a shot past Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev during the second period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • The Colorado Avalanche’s Mikko Rantanen, center, celebrates with the bench...

    The Colorado Avalanche’s Mikko Rantanen, center, celebrates with the bench after he scored to give his team a 3-0 lead during the second period of their season opener against the Kings on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Colorado Avalanche right wing Logan O’Connor, left, and Kings right...

    Colorado Avalanche right wing Logan O’Connor, left, and Kings right wing Alex Laferriere fight during the second period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Kings right wing Alex Laferriere, left, and Colorado Avalanche right...

    Kings right wing Alex Laferriere, left, and Colorado Avalanche right wing Logan O’Connor fight during the second period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar, left and Kings center Phillip...

    Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar, left and Kings center Phillip Danault vie for the puck during the second period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Kings players celebrate a goal by center Quinton Byfield as...

    Kings players celebrate a goal by center Quinton Byfield as Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar, third from right, and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, right, watch along with actor Will Ferrell, second from right, during the second period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • The Kings’ Drew Doughty, left, is congratulated as he skates...

    The Kings’ Drew Doughty, left, is congratulated as he skates back to the bench with Adrian Kempe after the team scored a goal during the second period of their season opener against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar, right, takes the puck as...

    Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar, right, takes the puck as Kings center Trevor Lewis reaches in during the second period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • The Kings’ Blake Lizotte, left, dumps in the puck in...

    The Kings’ Blake Lizotte, left, dumps in the puck in front of the Colorado Avalanche’s Miles Wood during the second period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, right, makes a save on...

    Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, right, makes a save on a shot by the Kings’ Drew Doughty during the second period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar (8) fends off the Kings’...

    The Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar (8) fends off the Kings’ Trevor Lewis as they pursue the puck while Colorado’s Devon Toews, left, looks on during the second period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Kings’ Pierre-Luc Dubois takes position in front of the...

    The Kings’ Pierre-Luc Dubois takes position in front of the net as the Colorado Avalanche’s Bowen Byram, left, and goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, right, defend during the second period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev makes a save on a...

    Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev makes a save on a shot by the Kings’ Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Kings’ Pierre-Luc Dubois, right, drives the puck up the...

    The Kings’ Pierre-Luc Dubois, right, drives the puck up the ice as the Colorado Avalanche’s Samuel Girard defends during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Phillip Danault (24) watches his shot go wide...

    The Kings’ Phillip Danault (24) watches his shot go wide as Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev protects his net during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Blake Lizotte drives down the ice as the...

    The Kings’ Blake Lizotte drives down the ice as the Colorado Avalanche’s Artturi Lehkonen, right, defends during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Matt Roy, left, tries to get the puck...

    The Kings’ Matt Roy, left, tries to get the puck in as Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, center, and teammates Josh Manson (42) and Samuel Girard (49) protect the net during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Colorado Avalanche center Ross Colton, left, dives for the puck...

    Colorado Avalanche center Ross Colton, left, dives for the puck as Kings center Adrian Kempe takes it during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Colorado Avalanche left wing Miles Wood, left, tries to get...

    Colorado Avalanche left wing Miles Wood, left, tries to get a shot past Kings goaltender Cam Talbot during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • The Kings’ Anze Kopitar, left, can’t get this shot in...

    The Kings’ Anze Kopitar, left, can’t get this shot in past Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Colorado Avalanche right wing Valeri Nichushkin, left, shoots the puck...

    Colorado Avalanche right wing Valeri Nichushkin, left, shoots the puck over Kings defenseman Matt Roy during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • The Kings’ Trevor Moore, right, takes a shot as Colorado...

    The Kings’ Trevor Moore, right, takes a shot as Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, left, and Miles Wood defend during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Trevor Moore pushes the puck up the ice...

    The Kings’ Trevor Moore pushes the puck up the ice during the third period of their season opener against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Kings goaltender Alex Turcotte blocks a shot during the third...

    Kings goaltender Alex Turcotte blocks a shot during the third period of their season opener against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, left, blocks a shot by...

    Colorado Avalanche goaltender Alexandar Georgiev, left, blocks a shot by the Kings’ Adrian Kempe, center, during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Kings goaltender Cam Talbot, left, stops a shot as Colorado...

    Kings goaltender Cam Talbot, left, stops a shot as Colorado Avalanche left wing Miles Wood, lower right, falls and right wing Logan O’Connor, third from right, battles with defenseman Tobias Bjornfot during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • The Kings’ Drew Doughty, right, skates in front of the...

    The Kings’ Drew Doughty, right, skates in front of the Colorado Avalanche’s Jonathan Drouin during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen, center, celebrates his goal...

    Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen, center, celebrates his goal with defenseman Jack Johnson, left, during the third period of their season opener against the Kings on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

  • Kings goaltender Cam Talbot reacts after a goal by the...

    Kings goaltender Cam Talbot reacts after a goal by the Colorado Avalanche’s Mikko Rantanen during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Kings’ Kevin Fiala, right, is checked by the Colorado...

    The Kings’ Kevin Fiala, right, is checked by the Colorado Avalanche’s Jack Johnson during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Colorado Avalanche’s Miles Wood, left, attempts to turn with...

    The Colorado Avalanche’s Miles Wood, left, attempts to turn with the puck as he is chased by the Kings’ Tobias Bjornfot during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Colorado Avalanche’s Miles Wood, right, turns in the corner...

    The Colorado Avalanche’s Miles Wood, right, turns in the corner with the puck in front of the Kings’ Tobias Bjornfot during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Colorado Avalanche’s Miles Wood (28) celebrates his empty-net goal...

    The Colorado Avalanche’s Miles Wood (28) celebrates his empty-net goal with Tomas Tatar, far left, and Ross Colton, far right, behind the Kings’ Adrian Kempe during the third period of their season opener on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Kings hockey fans arrive for the team’s season opener against...

    Kings hockey fans arrive for the team’s season opener against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Kings players wore special helmet stickers to honor the memory...

    Kings players wore special helmet stickers to honor the memory of Lou McClary during the Kings’ season opener against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Kings players and the NHL officials working the game wore...

    Kings players and the NHL officials working the game wore special helmet stickers to honor the memory of Lou McClary during the Kings’ season opener against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Fans arrive for the Kings’ season opener in the shadow...

    Fans arrive for the Kings’ season opener in the shadow of statues of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, left, and Magic Johnson, right, on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. (Photo by David Crane, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

LOS ANGELES — The Kings kicked off the season with at least a puncher’s chance at the franchise’s third Stanley Cup title, but they were dropped by a bonafide heavyweight on opening night.

Mikko Rantanen had two goals and a pair of assists and Nathan MacKinnon added a goal and two assists as Colorado handed the Kings a 5-2 defeat on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena. Cale Makar notched a goal and an assist and Miles Wood clinched the game with an empty-netter.

Wingers Carl Grundstrom and Quinton Byfield scored goals for the Kings, while Cam Talbot stopped 31 of 35 shots in his Kings debut, with at least three of the four goals he allowed coming on very challenging opportunities.

Colorado’s big three – MacKinnon, Rantanen and Makar – accounted for all four goals against Talbot and combined for nine points before Wood slammed the door. Alexandar Georgiev made 35 saves for the Avalanche, who won the Stanley Cup two seasons ago and opened this campaign as the favorite to win it at most sportsbooks.

“We want to make sure that we set the tempo high at the beginning of the season. We have a lot of guys on this team that can produce,” Makar said. “Everybody was looking good tonight.”

Kings coach Todd McLellan said he needed more from his special teams units, which were outscored 1-0, and greater commitment blocking shots, an area where the Avs doubled up the Kings 23-11.

“Territorially, it was fairly even. What they did better than us was commit to finishing things: they went and got pucks; they got sticks on pucks, they got bodies in front of pucks, they broke plays up defensively that we didn’t do. Then, offensively, they went and got pucks and tipped pucks, and we didn’t do that.”

Though the third period began with the Kings enjoying a bit of wind at their backs from a buzzer-beating goal before the second intermission, they found themselves trailing by multiple scores anew five minutes into the frame. Former Kings defenseman Jack Johnson’s long, slow but steady shot from a sharp angle to the near side was redirected far side in textbook fashion by Rantanen. Wood scored into the vacated cage with just less than four minutes to play.

The game had unraveled somewhat early in the second period, as the Kings gave up two high-skill goals in a 53-second span. First, it was Makar adjusting his shooting angle to create a four-man screen that gave Talbot next to no chance at a save while shorthanded. Then it was some five-on-five sizzle from Rantanen as the Finnish forward’s sharp-angled shot from in tight sailed over Talbot’s head and into the net for a 3-0 advantage.

The Kings pushed back with their first goal of the young season when Grundstrom did Grundstrom things. The winger, whom former Kings captain Dustin Brown affectionately named “The Tonka Truck,” barreled into Johnson on the forecheck, initiating a sequence that swiftly culminated in his clawing back a goal to make it 3-1 at the 6:18 mark. They halved their deficit with a mere 4.6 seconds left in the frame when Byfield’s centering pass for Adrian Kempe was deflected skyward and into the net for an own goal by Makar, which was credited to Byfield.

One positive byproduct of the Kings’ awkward last-second roster shuffling was that winger Alex Laferriere was able to carry the momentum from a strong preseason into his NHL debut, which would not have been possible with a full complement of wingers (Arthur Kaliyev was suspended and Viktor Arvidsson remained injured). Not only did the 21-year-old look every bit an NHL player, but he dropped both his gloves and Colorado’s Logan O’Connor. It was Laferriere’s first fight at any level of competition.

Last spring, Laferriere was still a sophomore at Harvard, though his Ivy League education didn’t lead him to intellectualize his traditional solo lap around the ice before the game.

“I was trying not to think, actually, if I thought too much something bad [might] happen, so I tried not to think about it too much, I just skated around in a lap,” Laferriere said.

The Kings started the game with vigor as well, but they found themselves ceding the only goal of the first period.

The Kings mounted an early 6-2 shot advantage and drew the game’s first penalty. But seconds after Colorado killed it, the Avalanche scored on a play when MacKinnon vanished in the far corner of the offensive zone and reappeared in the low slot for a feed from Rantanen for a goal.

After the game, Makar offered his read on the Kings, after Game 1 of 82.

“They’re pretty much the same system. They play a little bit of a different PK this year,” said Makar, who won the Norris Trophy in 2022. “They’re definitely a very defensive team, so you have to play the game as a team, no one man is going to be able to break the puck out alone or anything like that.”

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