Goaltender Hunter Miska played well enough, but the Colorado Avalanche couldn’t secure him a win in his first career start.
Miska accepted blame for a 4-2 loss against the Los Angeles Kings on Thursday, but penalty trouble and great scoring chances left on the table were the main culprits.
“I thought he looked calm and made the saves that he needed to, made some big stops there,” captain Gabriel Landeskog said of Miska.
Though he thought maybe Miska was a little too deep in the net on the first two goals, coach Jared Bednar liked his performance. Miska was sent in in place of backup goaltender Pavel Francouz, who suffered an injury in practice.
“He battled,” Bednar said. “He played hard for us tonight.”
The Kings erased a two-goal deficit and put a highlight-reel goal past Miska, then sealed the win with an empty netter at Staples Center.
Bowen Byram (one shot, two penalty minutes, even plus-minus) and Greg Pateryn (three blocks, two shots on goal, even plus-minus) made their debuts. It was Byram’s NHL debut while Pateryn came over in a trade with the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
The Kings hit two pipes in the first seven minutes, giving the Avalanche time to heat up. Nathan MacKinnon undressed Mikey Anderson along the boards, pulled the puck around Drew Doughty and put a shot on net. Mikko Rantanen streaked over and fired in the rebound.
MacKinnon did it himself on the second goal, putting it off the crossbar and in through traffic to make the score 2-0. A third straight win looked like a distinct possibility.
“It starts with getting into some penalty trouble and giving them some momentum,” Landeskog said.
The Avalanche (2-2) turned in an undisciplined second period and Miska had to be good, kicking away a Jeff Carter shot before stretching out to swat away a rolling puck.
It took a pair of near-perfect shots to beat the 25-year-old goaltender in the second period. On a 5-on-3, Drew Doughty buried a one-timed slap shot in the roof of the net. Then Gabriel Vilardi stared down Miska from the faceoff dot before sending a shot rattling off the goaltender’s helmet and in, again on the power play.
Anze Kopitar made a no-look pass to Adrian Kempe off the rush with just under four minutes left in the game for the winner. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick made 24 saves.
Colorado will face the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night.
Bednar singled out J.T. Compher’s line as needing to contribute more Thursday but didn’t mind the effort.
“We’re doing a lot of things right,” Bednar said.