LOS ANGELES – The Wild hadn't played a game in two weeks, and it showed.
Despite outmaneuvering the Kings in three of four previous matchups this season, the Wild didn't have an answer for their new West Division rivals Tuesday — falling 4-0 at Staples Center in a rusty return from an NHL-mandated hiatus after a COVID-19 outbreak sidelined more than half the roster.
"It was just not a clean game by us," Marcus Foligno said.
Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick stopped all 28 shots he faced for his first shutout of the season, and Jaret Anderson-Dolan's goal and assist set up more than enough offense for the Kings to hold off a Wild squad that unsurprisingly stumbled in its first game back from a lengthy layoff.
This was the team's first action since Feb. 2 at Colorado, a narrow 2-1 loss that preceded the team getting shut down the next day by the league after five more players (and six total) were in the NHL's COVID protocols. In the coming days, seven more roster regulars would become unavailable and the Wild's facilities were shuttered until last Friday, when the team reopened for practice with a skeleton crew.
The team did have enough players suit up Tuesday, receiving exemptions to call upon minor leaguers and taxi squadders, but the group was far from the usual one. Four of the six defensemen were playing their first Wild game this season, and the entire fourth line wasn't in the opening-night lineup.
"It was really tough," Foligno said. "It is what it is. We've been out for two weeks and got a lot of guys out of the lineup. You're playing with brand new guys. You don't want to make excuses, but it's tough.
"We competed. We worked hard after that, once we got our feet wet. It is what it is, but just one of those games where you just have to get through it."
During a first period that was mostly dominated by the Kings, the Wild managed just three shots on goal — the byproduct of a transition game that sputtered up ice.
"We did definitely look out of sorts," coach Dean Evason said.
Still, the team's deficit was only a goal.
After a hooking penalty by Nick Bjugstad, the Kings capitalized on the power play just 3 minutes, 26 seconds into the first period — a shot by Anderson-Dolan into an open back door.
The second period started better for the Wild, with defenseman Calen Addison in his NHL debut testing Quick early and fellow rookie Kirill Kaprizov flashing his speed.
A pair of penalties by the Kings also gave the Wild two chances on the power play, but the team blanked both times to continue its struggles with the man advantage despite new personnel. And after another unsuccessful try later in the period, the power play sits at 3-for-45 this season — the worst clip in the NHL. Los Angeles finished the game 1-for-3.
"It's always frustrating when you can't score," Kevin Fiala said. "We had some good looks. We didn't score. Quick made some unbelievable saves."
Before the second period adjourned, Trevor Moore got his redemption after getting stopped by goalie Kaapo Kahkonen on a breakaway — burying a pass from Anderson-Dolan at 12:03.
In the waning minutes of the third period, the Kings tacked on a third goal at 16:56 — a one-timer by Dustin Brown after the Wild was caught out of position — and then Drew Doughty scored into an empty net with 37 seconds remaining. Kahkonen posted 25 saves.
The Wild expects its manpower to improve this week, but the team won't have much time to prepare. Its comeback tour continues Thursday at Anaheim.
"We can't really sulk on this one," Foligno said. "You have to look forward to the next game."