If the Los Angeles Kings are to bounce back from a rough opener, the reigning Stanley Cup champions must play better against the Colorado Avalanche than they did last season.
The visiting Kings look to avoid a fifth consecutive defeat to the Avalanche on Tuesday night, and they're expected to have top center Anze Kopitar in the lineup to help.
Aside from the raising of the franchise's first Stanley Cup championship banner, Los Angeles had little to celebrate after a 5-2 loss to Chicago on Saturday. Displaying more speed and skill, the Blackhawks scored on a 5-on-3 advantage 3:41 into the game and added two more first-period goals en route to spoiling the Kings' special day.
"We took a moment to appreciate it, to look back, but now we've got to move forward," said defenseman Rob Scuderi, who matched his goal total from last season when he scored late in the second period. "If we use last season as a focus and a crutch to lean on, we're going to be out of this season pretty quick."
Despite ending 2011-12 by hoisting the Cup, the Kings ranked near the bottom of the NHL with 194 goals and averaged 2.9 while going 16-4-0 in the playoffs. Los Angeles managed 21 shots and went 0 for 5 on the power play in the opener.
"There is definitely more value given to each game," captain Dustin Brown told the Kings' official website. "But that doesn't change your approach. We struggled up and down last year. It's a matter of rebounding and staying in the field."
The Kings could improve quickly on offense after Kopitar was activated Tuesday. Kopitar, who missed the first two games with a knee injury suffered while playing in Sweden, led the team with 25 goals and 51 assists last season. He has 10 goals and 15 assists in 24 career games versus Colorado.
Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick, who posted a career-best 1.95 goals-against average in 2011-12, made 17 saves against Chicago. He yielded five goals once last season.
"You have to get used to getting knocked down and getting back up," Quick said.
Los Angeles was in the midst of an 8-0-1 stretch versus Colorado before going 0-3-1 against the Avalanche in 2011-12. Quick was in net for each game while the Kings were outscored 12-5 in the season series.
Ryan O'Reilly recorded a goal and an assist in the last three games versus Los Angeles, but the center who led Colorado with 55 points last season remains unsigned.
Free-agent acquisition John Mitchell and Cody McLeod scored Saturday, but the Avalanche were whistled for seven penalties and allowed Minnesota to score twice on the power play in a 4-2 road loss. The Wild scored three times while outshooting Colorado 18-5 in the second period.
"We've got to stay out of the box," defenseman Erik Johnson said. "A couple of the penalties were penalties we shouldn't have taken. We have to do a better job of eliminating guys in front of the net."
Veteran Paul Stastny, who has two goals and two assists in the last two games versus Los Angeles, was held to one shot Saturday.
Semyon Varlamov went 3-0-0 with a 1.30 GAA against the Kings last season. He stopped 31 shots Saturday.
Los Angeles put defenseman Matt Greene on injured reserve Monday with a back injury.