LOS ANGELES –– For one Saturday night, Los Angeles was the city of Devils as the Kings fell 5-2 to the visitors from New Jersey in an interconference clash at Crypto.com Arena.
The Kings have still won 10 of their past 14 games, leaving them in a points tie with Seattle for second place in the Pacific Division. The Devils have come out on top in four straight and have gone 17-2-1 on the road, which represents the best start through 20 away games in league history per NHL.com’s Dan Greenspan.
Winger Kevin Fiala and center Anze Kopitar scored goals for the Kings. Defenseman Drew Doughty assisted on both goals. Jonathan Quick lost his sixth straight decision, making 23 of 27 saves for his ninth loss in his 11 most recent starts.
Wingers Tomas Tatar and Erik Haula tallied for New Jersey, as did defensemen Nikita Okhotiuk and Ryan Graves. Winger Jesper Bratt sealed the game with an empty-net goal. Centers Jack Hughes and Yegor Sharangovich contributed a pair of assists. Graves added an assist and a team-high three blocks. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 34 shots in his victory.
The Kings pulled Quick with around three minutes remaining in the match as they sought their fourth straight win. They managed no shots on goal before Bratt deposited an empty-netter with 64 seconds to play.
The Kings had chances early in the final 20 minutes, including a shorthanded bid from Jaret Anderson-Dolan and a penalty shot from Fiala, both of which were denied by Blackwood.
New Jersey gained some separation a minute past the game’s midpoint when their heavy forecheck led to a puck recovery and then a goal. Sharangovich sent a puck high to Graves, whose point shot through center Nico Hischier’s screen became the defender’s fourth goal of the year.
Earlier in the middle frame, it took the Kings 4:11 to tie the game and 51 seconds to fall behind for the second time.
Okhotiuk recaptured the Devils’ lead as he curled from the right point across the top of the left faceoff circle and flicked a shot that banked off Quick’s blocker and into the net. It was Okhotiuk’s first goal of the season and the second of his career.
The Kings had knotted the score with some purposeful puck movement on the power play. All five players touched the puck during a sequence that concluded with Kopitar tipping in Doughty’s shot for the captain’s 12th goal. Kopitar has a point in six straight outings.
A mere 2:37 into the second period New Jersey took its first lead. Center Dawson Mercer’s stretch pass ignited a two-on-one rush with Haula and winger Jesper Boqvist. Haula declined to pass, instead loading up a far-side snap shot that became his third goal of 2022-23.
The Kings generated strong opportunities for Quinton Byfield and Kopitar during a power play late in the first period but settled for a 1-1 tie through 20 minutes.
New Jersey had pulled even with a touch over seven minutes left in the stanza by way of a man-advantage marker. Hughes fired from the slot and Tatar popped the rebound past Quick for his 10th goal of the season.
After killing a penalty and nearly scoring five-on-five on a hard drive to the net by defenseman Matt Roy, the Kings ultimately got the scoring going during a power play 6:32 into the game. Fiala did a vanishing act below the goal line, only to reappear at the back post with his stick raised. Winger Adrian Kempe set up at the outer edge of the right circle and whipped a pass across to Fiala for an easy redirection that became his 16th goal of the campaign.