LOS ANGELES - New wine, old bottles.
The Rangers' sleepy offense, which was expected to be jump-started by the addition of center Olli Jokinen, sputtered again Tuesday night.
Anze Kopitar broke a scoreless tie with a second-period shorthanded goal - the sixth against the Rangers this season - and Ryan Smyth scored in the third as the Kings nipped the Rangers, 2-1, sending the Blueshirts back East with a 1-2 record on their West Coast road trip.
The new No. 1 line, with Jokinen, 31, making his Rangers debut between Marian Gaborik and Vinny Prospal, wasn't quite in synch. At one point in the third period, Erik Christensen replaced Jokinen on that line in the third and Gaborik tipped in a backhand pass from Christensen at 17:23. It was Gaborik's 34th of the year and fifth in three games. The Rangers almost tied it at the buzzer but Jonathan Quick stopped Chris Drury's spin-around wrister.
"I'm disappointed we didn't win," said Jokinen, who played 20:34, spent time on the point on the power play, where he was positioned when he played in Florida and Phoenix, and and had four shots. "We've got to capitalize on the power play and not get scored against. I should have probably slid to try to force Kopitar [to shoot sooner]. It's not about the linemates. It's a little bit different system, as a player when you go to a new team, you want to learn it as soon as possible. It's a lot different from what Calgary is doing. We can play better. A good night's sleep and move on. It's been hectic."
For the Kings, Kopitar's 24th goal of the season came during a power play when Gaborik, along the right boards, was being challenged by Dustin Brown. Gaborik tried to flip a pass through the Kings' forward's legs to Drury at the point, but the puck slowed and was scooped up by Kopitar just past the blue line. He angled to the right and with Brown joining the two-on-one rush, Kopitar fired the puck over Henrik Lundqvist's left shoulder at 16:43.
"It was terrible," coach John Tortorella said of the power play, which was 0-for-3, with just two shots. "It cost us and it's been hurting us."
When Prospal lost the puck in the neutral zone and Sean O'Donnell tipped it back up ice to Brown, he head-manned it in front to Ryan Smyth, who went glove side high at 11:14 of the third.
The futility started long before. In the first period, the Rangers (25-25-7) didn't have a shot on Quick, who has a nine-game winning streak, until Jokinen's wrister from between the circles with 5:59 left.
One of the better scoring opportunities for Jokinen, in his first game since Monday's trade that sent Chris Higgins and Ales Kotalik to the Calgary Flames, came when his off-balance swipe from between the circles off a short feed from Prospal was turned away by Quick. Christensen later hit the near post from the right circle.
In the second period, Brandon Prust, who also was acquired in the deal, picked his 19th fight of the season, this one with Brandon Segal at 8:42, was handed an instigator penalty, and was tossed for 17 minutes. Both Prust and Jokinen are slated to make their Rangers home debuts at the Garden against the Capitals on Thursday.
Lundqvist, who missed the last two games with a stomach bug, was focused in the beginning of his first start since losing, 5-1, to Carolina on Jan. 27.
Prust picked up his first penalty as a Ranger at 7:49 of the first period for boarding when he slammed Jack Johnson into the end boards from behind. With Smyth in the box for hooking at 5:03, Jokinen joined the No. 1 power-play unit, with Gaborik, Drury, Prospal and Michael Del Zotto. The Kings had no shots in the last 9:11.
"I'd rather play bad and win than play good and lose," said Lundqvist, who made 19 saves. "And it's not going to get any easier down the stretch."