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Kings hoping to limit turnovers

by Bruce Bourquin | correspondent
LOS ANGELES – There is never a good time to play poorly during an NHL season -- especially the home opener.

Four turnovers cost the Los Angeles Kings dearly on Saturday night, which ultimately contributed to a 6-4 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes at the Staples Center. Afterwards, it left Kings coach Terry Murray scratching his head.

"That's probably the worst scenario that you could have on an opening night," Murray said. "We looked very out of sync, we were not passing the puck well, we were over-handling the puck. It was just sloppy play."

Radim Vrbata capitalized on L.A.'s first big mistake. The goal came after newcomer Ryan Smyth missed on a shot that floated in the air right on the Coyotes' doorstep. Ed Jovanoski sent the puck the other way in transition, which led to Vrbata's tally. Vrbata scored again later on due to yet another Kings' turnover.

"It's a good feeling," Vrbata said after the Coyotes won in Dave Tippett's debut. "The first goal gave me confidence and we played well overall. I'm just glad I could help. And if we're going to play like this (every game), we can surprise a lot of people."

Robert Lang also made the Kings pay for a turnover with 11:35 left in the third period to give Phoenix its biggest lead of the game, 6-2.

"It's hard to put a finger on it," Murray said when asked what caused his team's sloppy play. "I thought our practices were very good, we were moving the puck, we have been skating well, the goaltenders have looked sharp. But if there's an opening-night nervousness with this young group, it showed."

Saturday's performance certainly wasn't what defenseman Rob Scuderi envisioned when he signed as a free agent in July. The former Pittsburgh Penguins' defenseman knows his new team has some work to do if it plans on contending in the Pacific Division.

"Guys lose their coverage sometimes, so it hurts," Scuderi said. "We've been preaching team defense, but that wasn't the case tonight."

Budding star forward Anze Kopitar agreed.

"It wasn't enough and we've just got to do better in the next game," said Kopitar, who scored the Kings' first goal of the season. "There were some plays that we had chances and the puck bounced over our stick maybe … every team in the League is good and it's going to limit the chances."

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