Quick, Kings blank Flyers
LOS ANGELES — For all the talk of change by the Kings in the offseason, Los Angeles’ season-opening victory had the full signature of the team’s former regime.
Riding a strong goaltending performance and opportunistic scoring, the Kings successfully kicked off the John Stevens era.
Trevor Lewis and Tyler Toffoli registered goals, and Jonathan Quick made 35 saves as the Kings defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 2-0 on Thursday. Stevens won his debut as Kings coach against the team he coached for six seasons between 2000 and 2006.
With Quick recording his 45th regular-season shutout, Los Angeles (1-0-0) broke a three-game losing streak in season openers and won its home opener for the first time since the 2011-12 season.
Stevens was elevated to head coach on April 23 after serving as assistant coach to Darryl Sutter for six seasons. Sutter was fired at the end of last season when Los Angeles failed to make the playoffs for the second time in three seasons.
Stevens was matter-of-fact about his return to head-coaching duties.
“I think the preparation’s the same, you’ve just got to deliver the message, which is a little bit different,” Stevens said. “But really, it felt exactly the same going into the game. You always get a little bit nervous and excited. I did as a player, I do as a coach, and it felt the same tonight.”
Despite the high number of shots he faced, Quick felt he was not overly tested in recording the shutout.
“The team did a great job keeping guys out of the middle,” Quick said. “I feel like the majority of the shots came from the outside.
“(Stevens) works hard and wants what’s best for us. To see him get a win in his first game being the head coach, you’re happy for him.”
Philadelphia (1-1-0) took its second consecutive shutout loss to the Kings dating back to last season. The Flyers’ defense improved over the effort given in a 5-3 win in San Jose on Wednesday, but the inability to produce with the man advantage (0-for-5) was a primary factor in the defeat.
Michal Neuvirth stopped 25 Los Angeles shots.
Playing the second game of a back-to-back on its season-opening West Coast trip, the Flyers produced a strong third period, outshooting the Kings 17-5. Only a stellar performance by Quick prevented them from grabbing their second victory of the season.
“We generated a lot more with our five-on-five play tonight but couldn’t find a way to put one in the back of the net,” Flyers coach Dave Hakstol. “Their goaltender played very well tonight, but effort and mentality-wise, we were pretty good.”
Like his coach, Philadelphia captain Claude Giroux was impressed with the team’s effort despite being on the wrong end of the shutout.
“I think the whole team played great tonight, obviously we didn’t come up with the win,” Giroux said. “We did a lot of good things, and it’s early in the season. I feel like the lines are starting to click and find some chemistry.”
The teams played a scoreless first period with the Flyers outshooting the Kings 10-9 and neither team capitalizing on its lone power-play opportunity.
Lewis scored the first Los Angeles goal of the season at 6:16 of the second period. He one-timed a cross-ice feed from Nick Shore with Kyle Clifford drawing the additional assist.
The Kings took a 1-0 lead in the locker room after 40 minutes, having outshot the Flyers 13-8 in the second period. Philadelphia kept within striking distance by killing off two Kings penalties but was unable to capitalize on two power plays of its own.
Toffoli added an insurance goal at 17:39 of the third period, finishing off a two-on-one rush off a feed from Jeff Carter. Tanner Pearson recorded the secondary assist.
The Kings failed on all five of their man-advantage chances.
NOTES: Philadelphia scratched D Samuel Morin, C Jori Lehtera and D Brandon Manning. D Travis Sanheim made his NHL debut and finished a minus-2. Sanheim was Philadelphia’s first-round pick in the 2014 draft. ... The Flyers continue their four-game road trip on Saturday against the Anaheim Ducks. ... The Kings placed D Alec Martinez on injured reserve with a lower-body injury retroactive to Oct. 3 and recalled D Paul LaDue from their AHL Ontario affiliate. ... Los Angeles did not dress C Andy Andreoff, C Nic Dowd and LaDue. ... Kings D Oscar Fantenberg, D Kurtis MacDermid and LW Alex Iafallo made their NHL debuts. ... Los Angeles will play the lone road game in its first seven matches at San Jose on Saturday.