Ryan Hartman

Photo Credit: NHL.com

The LA Kings’ first loss of the 2021-22 season came at the hands of the Minnesota Wild, a team they’ll be happy to see far less of this year.

The LA Kings came into Saturday night hoping to build off Thursday’s impressive season-opening win over the Vegas Golden Knights.

Instead, it was another frustrating night against a team they’ve had a lot of those kind of nights against in 2021. Here are our three takeaways from the Kings’ first defeat of the 2021-22 season, a 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild at Staples Center.

1. The Wild still have the Kings’ number

Last year’s makeshift divisions and schedule had Kings fans get far too familiar with the Wild for their liking.

Eight of LA’s 56 regular-season games last year were played against Minnesota. The Wild won six of those games. Saturday’s win gives them seven wins in nine games against the Kings in 2021.

Viktor Arvidsson’s first goal as a King opened the scoring in this game on a power play in the second period, but the good vibes were short-lived. The Wild came out with a tone of urgency on the next shift, looking determined to tie things back up immediately. Frederick Gaudreau accomplished that just 56 seconds after Arvidsson’s goal.

The rest of the second period belonged to Minnesota. Victor Rask gave them the lead with just over eight minutes remaining. A few minutes later, LA looked to have caught a huge break when a Wild goal was disallowed for goalie interference after review. Not even 30 seconds later, though, Ryan Hartman scored a goal that did count to make it a 3-1 game.

This early-season match-up was a chance for the Kings to get some revenge for last year. Unfortunately, that’s not how things played out. Don’t worry, though, Kings fans. LA only has two more games left against Minnesota this year.

2. Quick’s solid debut

For the first time since the 2008-09 season, Jonathan Quick did not start the Kings’ first game of the season. Cal Petersen got the nod against Vegas on Thursday, the latest signal that the team is transitioning away from Quick to Petersen as the team’s top goaltender.

Quick is still part of the team, though, and he’s still going to play many games for the Kings this season. He finished the night with 27 saves on 30 shots — solid if unspectacular numbers in a vacuum, but it was hard to fault him on any of the goals he allowed. All three were quality scoring chances in high-danger zones, the kind of scoring opportunities the Kings allowed the Wild far too many in the second period.

First, Gaudreau was allowed to wire a one-timer from the hash marks.

Then, Rask took a nice feed from Kirill Kaprizov in the slot and beat Quick with a great shot.

Finally, Hartman was left unguarded at the bottom of the circle on a play where Drew Doughty seemed to get a little lost.

The Kings aren’t asking Quick to be a Vezina candidate anymore. They’re just asking him to give them a chance to win games while likely starting fewer than half of the team’s matches this season. They may not have won on Saturday, but it wasn’t because Quick didn’t give them a chance to do so. Even if he didn’t steal the game for them, they’d take this start from him more often than not this year.

His teammates, on the other hand, are going to have to help him out a little more.

3. A quiet night for the kids

Injuries to Andreas Athanasiou and Lias Andersson opened the door for Arthur Kaliyev to crack the opening night lineup. Brendan Lemieux, being placed on the COVID list, then allowed Rasmus Kupari to make his season debut on Saturday.

Unfortunately, neither made much of an impression against the Wild. Neither recorded any points while Kaliyev had just one shot on goal, and Kupari didn’t record any. Kaliyev played just 10:56 and Kupari just 10:27. Only Blake Lizotte (9:14) had less ice time among LA forwards. Kaliyev was on the ice late when the Kings had their net empty and were looking for the equalizer, but they were more or less benched for the third period.

Any NHL experience they can gain at this point should serve them well moving forward. That being said, it won’t be surprising to see Kaliyev and Kupari head back down to the Ontario Reign once the Kings’ injured forwards start to return.

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