For all those who felt silly sitting in the darkness of the Forum on such a beautiful afternoon Monday, the Kings provided an excuse to leave early.
In front of a President's Day crowd of 11,182, the National Hockey League's most generous team gave up three unanswered goals in the first 11 minutes 46 seconds of a 6-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
The fruitless holiday on ice sent the Kings off on a two-game trip to the Midwest with a two-game losing streak. After starting their six-game (longest of the season)home stand with two straight victories, the Kings lost three of four.
This game was all but decided by the time somebody named Dirk used the message board in the second period to ask Becky to marry him.
No answer was forthcoming, perhaps meaning that Becky had already gone home.
The Red Wings, who increased their Norris Division lead to nine points over the second-place St. Louis Blues, scored on three of their first nine shots.
After Tim Higgins intercepted an errant clearing pass by goaltender Glenn Healy and scored easily to make it 3-0, the crowd chanted, "Rol-lie, Rol-lie," and King Coach Robbie Ftorek obliged them, replacing the frustrated Healy with Rollie Melanson.
The Red Wings then proceeded to put the clamps on the Kings, limiting them to 22 shots on goal, including only 13 in the last two periods, and only an occasional legitimate scoring opportunity.
It was 4-0 before Luc Robitaille scored for the Kings on a deflection of a shot by Tom Laidlaw with 7:27 left in the second period.
Jimmy Carson of the Kings called it "the most disciplined game played against us all season.
"They're a great defensive team, and they're so good at protecting a lead. It seemed like every time we got the puck, it was a one on four.
"It's frustrating playing against them. There's so much clutching and grabbing that it's a very difficult game. You don't get too many individual rushes. If you do get a three on two, you'd better capitalize because you may not get another for a long time, if at all."
By the third period, the Kings were reduced to taking long shots and hoping to capitalize on the rebounds.
Ftorek, though, had a difficult time criticizing his team.
"I would like us to come back a little bit better than we've been able to, but I don't think the game was that bad," he said. "I thought the guys played pretty soundly in different parts of the game."
Goaltending wasn't one of them.
Mike O'Connell beat Healy from the right point at 1:35, Steve Yzerman banged a shot off Healy's left shoulder from the bottom of the right faceoff circle at 8:17 and Higgins scored from between the circles at 11:47.
Healy's day was finished.
"It was a screen and the screen moved just as he shot it," Healy said of O'Connell's goal. "The second one, Yzerman had some people in front and I maybe cheated a little bit off the post, anticipating he'd pass it, and he never did. I turned my body a little bit for the pass and he put it right over my shoulder."
Actually, Healy said, Yzerman's shot hit his shoulder and glanced off the crossbar. Ftorek called the difficult-angle shot a "hats off" goal.
Of the third goal, Healy said: "The puck was bobbling and I didn't get good wood on (the pass). (Higgins) picked it up and there was no question it was going to go in."
At that point, there seemed no question the Kings would lose, either.
Ftorek isn't fond of replacing goaltenders, believing that it's not always their fault when goals are scored, but he said he had no choice.
"I don't know if I noticed that he wasn't real sharp," Ftorek said of Healy. "It's just that I felt it was necessary to take Healy out and put Rollie in there to see if we could ebb their flow a little bit."
They did, if only slightly. And, perhaps, only because the Red Wings' focus from that point was defensive.
"They're a big club and it's very difficult to get by them when they're interfering the way they were today," Ftorek said.
Especially when it's 3-0 before the game is 12 minutes old.
Robbie Ftorek had pulled his starting goaltender only once previously in 33 games as the Kings' coach. That time, though, a shot knocked Glenn Healy unconscious in the second period of a game Jan. 19 against the New York Rangers. "It's not one of my favorite decisions to make," Ftorek said. . . . The Kings, who are 8-20-3 on the road, play at Minnesota Wednesday night and at St. Louis Thursday night before returning home. . . . In their last 22 games, the Red Wings are 14-4-4. . . . The Kings are 0-28-2 in games in which they've trailed entering the third period.
Detroit Coach Jacques Demers: "We knew they'd make mistakes because they've allowed (273) goals, but we also knew offensively they could burn us if we made the mistakes they could capitalize on. From the opening whistle, we came out and checked and checked and checked." . . . Brian O'Neill, executive vice president of the National Hockey League, reviewed videotape of hits made by Bernie Nicholls and Ken Baumgartner of the Kings in a game Feb. 2 at Vancouver and will not take action against the players, a league spokesman said Monday. "It's a dead issue," the spokesman said. Brian Burke, a Canuck vice president, sent the videotape to the NHL offices in Montreal, describing Nicholls' hit on Barry Pederson and Baumgartner's on Jim Sandlak as "cheap shots."