The Kings opened the season tonight against the same team that eliminated them from post season play last year, the Vancouver Canucks. 40 years ago the Vancouver Canucks played the franchises first game against the Los Angeles Kings, and to commemorate both teams wore replica jerseys from that season. Goaltender Jonathan Quick even donned a Rogie Vachon tribute mask complete with all brown pads and gloves.
The first period was hard fought and ended in a 0-0 tie. Christian Ehrhoff scored a power play goal 11:58 into the 2nd period. It would be the only goal allowed by Quick as he saved 23 of the 24 shots he faced.
The Canucks Roberto Luongo made 31 saves himself but allowed a game tying power play goal, scored by Justin Williams with just 4:05 remaining in regulation.
In overtime, the Kings couldn’t take advantage of a key opportunity with a man advantage after a Kevin Bieksa Interference penalty 2:35 in. The Kings would finish the game 1 for 6 on the power play and 4 of 5 on the penalty kill.
In the shootout, Quick made two saves off shots by Mason Raymond and Ryan Kesler. Both Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson scored on their shoot out opportunities to seal the win.
Kopitar left the game briefly after running into the end of Manny Malhotra’s stick while trying to check him against the boards midway through the second period. He was helped off the ice and to the locker room where he received medical and dental treatment before returning to the ice in the third period.
In Kopitar’s absence, the top line center spot was filled by 19 year old rookie, Brayden Schenn. Schenn played a total of 14:23 of ice time and, aside from the early turnover that lead to a Canucks scoring opportunity in the first, played remarkably well.
In the end, the Kings played well and won the game. They seemed intimidated by the Canucks and were out hit 27 to 34. Also, 3 of the Kings 5 penalties were committed by new King Alexei Ponikarovsky. Our hard-hitting, young fourth line of Clifford, Schenn and Westgarth, with the exception of Schenn, saw minimal ice time. A statistic that i see changing against the Calgary Flames tomorrow and the Atlanta Thrashers at Tuesday nights home opener in Los Angeles.
Three Stars of the Game:
1st: Jonathan Quick
2nd: Roberto Luongo
3rd: Anze Kopitar