LOS ANGELES — The Flyers wasted a superb performance from goalie Michal Neuvirth on Thursday night at the sold-out Staples Center.
Jonathan Quick made 35 saves to collect his 45th career shutout, helping the Los Angeles Kings start their season with a 2-0 victory.
Tyler Toffoli took a two-on-one pass from former Flyer Jeff Carter and iced the verdict, scoring with 2 minutes, 21 seconds left to give the Kings a 2-0 lead.
The Flyers slipped to 1-1 as their power play, which was 3 for 5 in Wednesday’s 5-3 win in San Jose, went 0 for 5. They had little zone time Thursday on their last two power plays, both in the final 10:02.
“We didn’t get the bounces. That’s hockey,” captain Claude Giroux said.
It didn’t help that Quick was flawless.
“I think the whole team played great tonight,” Giroux said. “Obviously we didn’t come up with the win, but we did a lot of good things and it’s early in the season. I feel like the lines are starting to click a little bit and find some chemistry. As frustrating as we are that we lost this game, we have to take a lot of good things with it.”
For the second straight night, the Flyers had their most scoring chances in the third period. They outshot L.A. by a 17-5 margin in the final 20 minutes, but they lacked a finishing touch around the net.
“Tonight we ran into a hot goalie,” Giroux said. “He’s not too bad.”
“I thought we generated little bit more tonight than we did last night five on five,” said coach Dave Hakstol, adding there was a short second-period stretch where the Flyers tried to get “too fine” with their passing and didn’t shoot enough. “We couldn’t find a way to put one in the back of the net. Their goaltender played well.”
A couple of Flyers defensive breakdowns led to the game’s first goal.
Scott Laughton’s neutral-zone turnover enabled the Kings to enter the zone, and Nick Shore threaded a right-wing pass to a streaking Trevor Lewis, who got behind defenseman Travis Sanheim and beat Neuvirth with 13:44 left in the second period.
“My gap was little off with the turnover,” Sanheim said. “I wish I could have had a better gap. It was a mistake and something I can learn from.”
Sanheim had a rough night in his NHL debut, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Samuel Morin — a healthy scratch in the first two games — replaced him in Saturday’s lineup in Anaheim.
After looking hesitant early in the game, Sanheim played solidly in the final 20 minutes.
“I kind of wish the game could have gone on and I could go right into my next one, because I started to feel more comfortable and started to play my game,” Sanheim said. “…I started to get my feet under me and started to play more of my game and getting up ice and making plays. I kind of wish I could have done that earlier.”
Added Sanheim: “Early on, it was hard to get up in the play. We were moving the puck, but I wasn’t finding the right opportunities to be able to jump (into the play). I found a few opportunities in the third.”
General manager Ron Hextall, who reiterated that he will eventually send one of his defensemen to the Phantoms, said he liked the way Sanheim played in the latter stages.
With 1:46 left in the second, Sanheim was called for a double-minor for high-sticking Lewis. The Flyers killed the four minutes of penalties, at which point the Kings were 0 for 4 on the power play.
Neuvirth stopped 21 of 22 shots in the first 40 minutes. He turned aside all nine shots he faced in a scoreless first period. None was better — or more important — than the remarkable save he made to deny Anze Kopitar with 1:19 left in the period.
Kopitar, from point-blank range, took a slick pass from rookie Alex Iafallo and one-timed a shot that Neuvirth somehow gloved to keep the game scoreless.
“I read the play and covered the short side…and it basically hit my glove,” Neuvirth said.
The Kings, playing their season opener, dominated the first half of the opening period, while the Flyers controlled the second half of the session.
The Flyers, playing on consecutive nights, took a while to find their rhythm, but they started peppering Quick midway through the period and, during one juncture, had nine of the 10 shots, including a booming drive by defenseman Radko Gudas.
Gudas was paired with Sanheim, who replaced Brandon Manning in the lineup.
Laughton, the Flyers’ fourth-line center, had a team-high five shots, and he and linemates Taylor Leier and Michael Raffl created numerous scoring chances…..Robert Hagg and Dale Weise each had four hits, and Ivan Provorov blocked five shots….The Kings’ John Stevens was a full-time head coach Thursday for the first time since he directed the Flyers in December, 2009…..The Flyers played their first of 15 sets of games on back-to-back nights. A year ago, they played 18 back-to-back sets, going 11-7 in the first games and 9-6-3 in the second games.