The 18,118 fans at the Staples Center gave the Los Angeles Kings a warm welcome when they stepped onto the ice Thursday night for their first home game after a 4-0-0 road trip. By the end of the night, boos had filled the building after a 4-0 loss to St. Louis in which the Blues dominated from beginning to end.
The loss dropped the lifeless Kings into fifth in the West, two points behind Phoenix.
"There's nothing to explain. It's over," an unhappy coach Terry Murray said. "There's nothing there. We had nothing going on. There was no energy. We were totally outplayed. We had six shots at the end of two periods. We're coming off an incredible road trip. The tank is empty. There's nothing to talk about."
With archrival Anaheim coming to Staples Center on Saturday, defenseman Rob Scuderi conceded the visit from the Blues could have been seen as a trap game.
"I think so. We're coming off a big road trip. First of all, I'm not making excuses for our play. But you look at it, and we're coming off a big road trip, a lot of energy, a lot of excitement. We come back, and we're playing a team that's technically still alive (in the playoff race) but maybe on their last gasp of air, and we just came out flat. Right from the get-go, every single guy.
"The only guy who probably was ready to go was Quickie. I thought he was tremendous in the first two-and-a-half periods. A couple tough ones, lucky bounces, and he was probably exhausted at that point. A trap game? Maybe. Sometimes you're going to have to fight through those."
The Blues might not have been the best homecoming guests -- they've now beaten the Kings seven straight times, including all four this season. St. Louis got goals by Matt D'Agostini in each of the first two periods, then blew the game open on third-period goals by Alex Pietrangelo and T.J. Oshie -- Pietrangelo's was a 90-footer that Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick simply missed.
Jaroslav Halak had to make just 17 saves -- only six in the first 40 minutes -- for his 14th NHL shutout. The 17 shots were the fewest against the Blues since they limited Anaheim to 14 in the second game of the season. St. Louis outshot L.A. 24-3 in the first 31 minutes and 30-6 through two periods.
"From a standpoint of executing and the details of the game -- making sure the puck is in the right spot, making sure we kept things to the outside, blocked shots and got in the right spots with the sticks and the passing lanes so that we created our own opportunities to attack from defensive play - that was something we talked about," coach Davis Payne said. "Knowing that we're playing a very skilled hockey team is important, too."
St. Louis outshot the Kings 13-2 in the opening period, taking the lead at 16:30 with D'Agostini's 16th goal of the season. He beat Quick to the glove side from the slot after the goaltender gave up a long rebound on Adam Cracknell's 30-foot wrister.
D'Agostini burned Quick just 6.9 seconds from the end of the period with his fourth goal in four games. He was trailing the play when he got a drop pass from Andy McDonald just outside the right circle and fired a bad-angled 20-foot wrister over Quick's glove from the right circle as Quick failed to hug the post.
Kings captain Dustin Brown said his teammates can't let one bad performance affect them.
"We've been playing pretty good hockey, and tonight we didn't play our game and it showed," he said. "But at this point in the year we're still in the heat of the race and it's just a matter of getting back to it now. We can't dwell on this."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report