Tampa Bay scored three times in a span of 68 seconds midway through the first period and added a power-play goal to cap a four-goal barrage in 2:02. The Kings had too many missed coverages and made too many bad reads. Offensively, they didn't muster enough sustained pressure on Lightning backup goalie Peter Budaj, who did a solid job last season while he was a member of the Kings and stepped in after Quick sustained a long-term groin injury.
"We just didn't play very good," right wing Tyler Toffoli said. "There's nothing really to say. When you had the start that we had I think we just kind of, I don't know if it's panic or cheat, but we just didn't do a good job of getting sticks in the lane and getting back. When that happens against a team like that they capitalize and before you know it you're down 4-0."
For the Kings, their biggest margin of defeat this season was a team effort. They did push back, getting a goal late in the second period from Toffoli and having an apparent goal by Anze Kopitar waved off because of goaltender interference, another of the NHL's maddeningly inconsistent rulings.
Kings defenseman Oscar Fantenberg's goal from the high slot in the third period, his first NHL goal, closed the gap to 4-2, but Tampa Bay put the game out of reach on a shot by Namestnikov that caromed quickly in and out of the net at 12:59 of the third period.
"We knew they're a good team. We knew it was going to be tough," Fantenberg said.
"There was a little bit too much backing up in the beginning, giving them too much time and space, and they're too good to give too much time and space."
The Lightning made some significant changes after last season, including turning over half of its defense. Of course, Tampa Bay has benefited from having a healthy Stamkos; he suffered a knee injury 17 games into last season and didn't return. Similarly, the Kings have benefited from having Quick at full strength after his groin injury last season.
"The one big thing for me is everybody's bought into their roles," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "And when your players are buying into their roles, whether they're playing eight minutes or 28 minutes, it's good for your team dynamic and I think that's been a big reason for our success."
A similar belief system has been a strength for the Kings so far. It can help them now as they turn their attention to repairing their defensive game. They can't ignore the danger signs anymore.
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