LOS ANGELES — The game between the Lightning and Kings on Thursday night at the Staples Center held lots of promise.
Tampa Bay entered second in the Eastern Conference, the Kings first in the West. The Lightning has center Steven Stamkos, 2008's No. 1 draft pick. The Kings have defenseman Drew Doughty, who was taken second that year.
Add what Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund said was a "playoff-type atmosphere" and some physical play that exploded into a third-period rumble between Tampa Bay's Steve Downie and Los Angeles' Willie Mitchell, and you had an entertaining, though disappointing for the Lightning, 1-0 Los Angeles victory.
"That was a playoff game, and nobody was going to give each other an inch," Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher said. "There wasn't much out there for either team. It was going to be (a loss) for who made that mistake, and we made that mistake."
That was defenseman Mathieu Roy's defensive-zone turnover that led to Justin Williams' goal 5:20 into the third period.
The game marked the first time this season the Lightning (7-3-2) has lost consecutive games. It also snapped Tampa Bay's seven-game unbeaten streak (5-0-0 with two ties) in Los Angeles.
The outcome spoiled a solid game by goaltender Mike Smith, who made 25 saves and lost for the first time this season in five decisions and for the first time in six against the Kings.
Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick made the goal stand up with 24 saves for his first shutout of the season and the ninth of his career.
Really, though, the Lightning, playing without injured defenseman Victor Hedman (foot bruise), made it a bit easier than it should have been for the Kings, getting only one shot in 4:46 of power-play time.
Frustration boiled over with 6:59 left when Downie challenged Doughty, who had cross-checked Downie earlier in the period. Los Angeles' Willie Mitchell cross-checked Downie, and the fight was on.
Mitchell not only got away with the cross-check, he got away with punching Downie as the officials broke them up. Downie got five minutes for fighting and a 10-minute misconduct penalty, Mitchell only five for fighting.
All that aside, the game turned when Roy passed cross-ice at the Lightning blue line. The puck hit the back of the skate of Lightning forward Dana Tyrell and deflected to the Kings' Ryan Smyth, who found Williams alone in front of the Tampa Bay net.
"It happened so fast," said Roy, a recent callup from AHL Norfolk who made his Lightning debut. "I thought it was the play to make, but it obviously wasn't, because it ended up in our net."
The Lightning was at its best killing a five-minute major penalty in the first period while allowing only two shots. Ohlund was the culprit. He plastered Kings captain Dustin Brown from behind and face-first into the end boards 8:59 into the period.
"I'll take five minutes on that," Ohlund said. "But I don't hit guys from behind. I think he turned at the last second. That's just the feeling I had."
Tampa Bay's penalty kill, which entered third in the league at 89.6 percent, made it difficult for the Kings to even enter the offensive zone. Los Angeles' best chance was Doughty's big slap shot that Smith batted away with his blocker.
Quick's best save came with 6:11 left in the second period when he stopped Marty St. Louis' backhand from the slot off a rebound of Roy's shot.
First Period—None. Penalties—Ohlund, TB, major (boarding), 8:59.
Second Period—None. Penalties—Ponikarovsky, LA (hooking), 9:26; Roy, TB (interference), 15:15.
Third Period—1, Los Angeles, Williams 6 (Smyth, Stoll), 5:20. Penalties—Doughty, LA (charging), 6:31; Downie, TB, major-misconduct (fighting), 13:01; Mitchell, LA, major (fighting), 13:01; Johnson, LA (interference), 13:16; Bergenheim, TB (slashing), 14:03; Kubina, TB (delay of game), 15:51. Shots on Goal—Tampa Bay 9-9-6—24. Los Angeles 9-7-10—26. Power-play opportunities—Tampa Bay 0 of 3; Los Angeles 0 of 4. Goalies—Tampa Bay, Smith 4-1-0 (26 shots-25 saves). Los Angeles, J.Quick 8-1-0 (24-24). A—18,118 (18,118).