Any doubts about the value of Ryan Smyth and Rob Scuderi might have been removed Wednesday night, when both players were out of the Kings' lineup with injuries.
Without their two biggest offseason acquisitions, the Kings made critical mistakes in their 3-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers before 17,821 at STAPLES Center.
Minus Smyth, largely considered to be the engine that drives the Kings' first line, the Kings generated plenty of shots (39) but not a lot of quality scoring chances. Minus Scuderi, perhaps the team's strongest stay-at-home defenseman, the Kings got burned three times by a talented, opportunistic Flyers bunch.
"We didn't show up to play, and that's why we lost the game,'' Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "The first two periods, we weren't too solid. It wasn't like we were playing that bad. We just let them have three easy goals. We can't have that. We talk, and watch video on our D zone all the time, and when we make little mistakes like that, it's tough and we've got to learn from it.''
On two of the Flyers' goals, Kings defenders were late to pick up Flyers in front of the net and allowed goals on rebounds.
The Kings pulled within 3-2 on Doughty's power-play slap shot with 7:51 left and played a strong final five minutes, but couldn't tie it. The Kings outshot the Flyers 39-20, including 21-5 in the third period, but it didn't translate to goals.
Smyth is expected to be out for four weeks with an undisclosed upper-body injury, and the new-look first line of Kopitar, Alexander Frolov and Justin Williams did not record a point.
Williams had eight shots and Kopitar had six, but the line showed little of the net presence that Smyth typically brings. Frolov, elevated from the checking line, had one shot on goal, with 39 seconds remaining, and two giveaways.
"The line itself -- I don't want to talk about Fro, necessarily -- but the line itself needs to be better,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said. "I think that's an opportunity for that line to step up against the good competition. We have some big games in front of us, and I think they'll get it together.
"I trust that they will. They care about each other, they want to work hard for each other, and it will start to get going.''
With their net empty, the Kings had a chance to tie the game, but a deflected shot, in the closing seconds, trickled just wide of the Flyers' goal line.
"We were a little unfortunate not to get a bounce,'' Kopitar said, "but it all starts from the second period, when we let in those two goals. That just can't happen.''
Actually, it might have started a little earlier than that. The Kings led 1-0 on a first-period goal from Jarret Stoll, and the Flyers didn't take the lead until late in the second period, but the momentum seemed to shift much earlier.
In a somewhat sloppy, uneven first period, the Kings managed a 1-0 lead when Stoll scored from a tough angle with roughly five minutes remaining.
With 1:38 left in the period, the Kings had a fantastic chance to put the Flyers in a big hole when two Flyers, Darroll Powe and Kimmo Timonen, went to the penalty box, which gave the Kings a two-man advantage for the period's final 1:38.
The Kings had trouble entering the offensive zone and, when they did, they passed the puck around the perimeter, looking for a lane, but generated only one scoring chance, a relatively benign medium-range shot, and the Flyers killed the entire advantage with relative ease.
"That's a critical part of the game,'' Murray said. "That's where you can put the game away. It's a 5-on-3 for the full two minutes. We didn't get our first shot on net for the first minute and nine seconds. We looked very disorganized at times, and that was an opportunity to bury the game.''
Instead, the Flyers took control of the game.
Philadelphia scored two second-period goals, and on their first power play of the night, the Flyers scored 1:47 into the third period when James van Riemsdyk tucked a rebound past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
The Flyers entered the game with the league's most efficient power play, and went 1 for 2 with the man advantage. The Kings went 1 for 4 on the power play, as Drew Doughty's third-period slap shot pulled the Kings within 3-2 with 7:51 to play.
But the Kings couldn't get another puck past Flyers goalie Brian Boucher, who played in place of regular starter Ray Emery and continued his recent strong play against the Kings, with 37 saves.
Last season, Boucher beat the Kings twice and allowed two goals on 49 shots, including a shutout. Late in the first period Wednesday, the Kings made sure Boucher wouldn't get another shutout.
With 5:07 remaining in the period, Jarret Stoll scored one of those ``shot-mentality'' goals that Murray loves. Stoll carried the puck down low, almost to the end line, and fired a wrist shot that somehow got between Boucher and the near post. Dustin Brown and Scott Parse picked up assists.
The Kings outshot the Flyers 11-6 in the first period, but generated only one scoring chance when they had a 5-on-3 power play for the final 1:38 of the first period. The Kings also did not score with the advantage to start the second period.
"They sure gained some momentum off that,'' Kopitar said. "We got some shots, some not very good shots, but we got some shots and we had some chances, but it's definitely the time of the game when you want to score and get a two-goal lead. But we didn't.''
The Flyers tied the game 7:52 into the second period. Scott Hartnell took a shot from the middle of the right circle. Quick came out to challenge and made the save. but was far off his line when Pyorala picked up the rebound and, without a challenge, scored from a tough angle. Baydon Coburn also got an assist.
Philadelphia took the lead with 1:05 remaining in the period. Richards, alone in the slot, nearly fanned on a shot, but got just enough of the puck to knuckle it past Quick and give the Flyers the lead.
The Flyers, who have the league's most efficient power play, extended their lead with a power-play goal 1:47 into the third period. Coburn's point shot went wide, but Quick came out to challenge and couldn't get back in time as van Riemsdyk beat the Kings to the puck and tucked it into the net.
The Kings pulled within one goal with a power-play goal 12:09 into the third period. Doughty ripped a shot, through traffic, from well above the top of the left circle, and beat Boucher. Stoll and Williams got assists.
LAKings.com's NOTES Jarret Stoll (1-1=2 tonight) had four hits and won 12 of 17 faceoffs (71 percent)...Justin Williams had a season-high eight shots...Teams combined for 59 hits (PHI: 30, LA: 29)...The Kings out-shot Philadelphia 21-5 in the third period (39-20 in the game)...The 20 shots in one period and 39 in one game are both season highs for the Kings...The Kings are still 9-4-2 in their last 15 games...Their 13-8-2 start is the eighth best 23-game start in team history...The Kings have out-shot their opponent in 10 of the last 11 games (14 of the last 16)...'Scene' in the stands were actor Vince Vaughn and Twilight's Daniel Cudmore.
1 - 0 LAK
1 - 1 Tie
2 - 1 PHI
James van Riemsdyk