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Kings open exhibition season with losses at home and on the road

KINGS

L.A. loses, 5-1, at Staples Center in a split-squad game against the Coyotes. Phoenix beats the other split squad, 4-2, in Arizona.

September 15, 2013|By Lisa Dillman
  • Coyotes right wing Brandon Yip battles with Kings defenseman Derek Forbort during a split squad meeting of the two clubs at Staples Center on Sunday.
Coyotes right wing Brandon Yip battles with Kings defenseman Derek Forbort… (Kevork Djansezian / Associated…)

Preseason hockey isn't exactly the best advertisement for the sport.

Of course, you could say that about preseason anything. But there it was, warts and all, on display at Staples Center on Sunday. It is the first time since 2011 there are NHL preseason contests because the lockout wiped those games out a year ago.

"Work in progress" might be best to describe the Kings' effort in split-squad games against the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday night. The Coyotes' goaltending duo of Thomas Greiss and Louis Domingue combined to beat the Kings, 5-1, at Staples Center.

Right wing Brandon Yip, signed as a free agent by the Coyotes in July, scored twice and added an assist. Defenseman David Rundblad had three assists. Kings goalie Mathieu Garon, who is in training camp on a tryout basis, played the entire game, facing 21 shots

Kings assistant coach John Stevens praised the effort of the rookie line of Valentin Zykov-Nick Shore-Scott Sabourin but was appropriately blunt in his general assessment.

"Not very good, to be honest," Stevens said. "Wasn't very good special teams, either side of the puck. ... Still a little bit too slow, too deliberate, looking for too many seams. The penalty-killing wasn't what it needed to be."

The Kings goal came at 9 minutes 42 seconds of the third period, via defenseman Slava Voynov. Voynov scored on Domingue, who replaced Greiss for the period.

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter attended the game in Glendale, Ariz., in which the Coyotes rallied from a two-goal deficit for a 4-2 win.

But that result, and everything else, was overshadowed by a sobering incident in the first period. Phoenix defenseman Rusty Klesla was taken off the ice on a stretcher after an open-ice hit from Kings forward Jordan Nolan.

Klesla, according to reports, waved to the crowd as he was leaving the ice. There was no penalty called on the play.

The Arizona Republic reported on Twitter he was alert, conscious and was later taken to a hospital.

Nolan has a history with the league office, albeit a limited one. He was fined $1,436.94 for cross-checking the Vancouver Canucks' Henrik Sedin in March at Staples Center.

There was no penalty on the play — but the league ended up reviewing the play. It was considered a first-time offense.

lisa.dillman@latimes.com

Twitter: @reallisa

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