LA Kings: Athanasiou’s auspicious start rolls with rare achievement

LA KIngs (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
LA KIngs (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

It may have been another loss for the LA Kings on Tuesday night, but this defeat was a bit easier to swallow. Even though they got out of this game without any points to show for it, the Kings rebounded from a sluggish start, showing a great deal of character and resilience en route to the loss.

Playing a very tough Colorado Avalanche team — who came off a decisive 8-0 win over the Blues on Friday — the Kings had a solid third period that saw them pull within a goal. As for who opened the scoring for the silver-and-black, it was the newest King, Andreas Athanasiou, who added to his personal hot streak.

After scoring in each of his first two games, Athanasiou scored his third tally of the season on Tuesday while making some history in the process.

With his goal vs. the Avs, Athanasiou became just the third player in franchise history to score in each of his first three games as a King, joining Bill Lesuk (1972-73) and Wayne Gretzky (1988-89).

Following Tuesday’s game, A.A. spoke with the media and was asked about the achievement.

“I wasn’t aware of that but that’s obviously a good feeling,” a pleasantly surprised Athanasiou said. “I mean, any time I can help the team, I guess, that’s the main thing. It’s more or less just doing what you can to help win games, and I think we’re taking a step forward.”

The play began on a good pinch by defenseman Mikey Anderson, who recorded his first career NHL assist on the goal. Athanasiou addressed what he saw on the play that allowed him to score.

“I think anytime you have a D jumping into the rush, just an extra man that opens up a little more free space,” the 26-year-old noted. “When they get in the play, it’s going to free up somebody, and fortunately enough, the puck just popped out to me, made a play, and I saw a little bit of opening and took a shot.”

Despite the end result, though, neither A.A. nor his teammates are not hanging their heads.

“We all know what we did right and wrong,” a matter-of-fact Athanasiou said. “The main thing is we have another game here coming up (Thursday vs. COL) and playing them again. So, it’s a lot of hockey. We got to take the positives, forget about the negatives, learn from it, obviously, and just keep taking steps forward. With the group we have, we’re doing that. Obviously, we made a good push there at the end and just keep getting better day by day.”

Athanasiou’s solid offensive play has not gone unnoticed by anyone, including Todd McLellan. The Kings’ head coach admitted that A.A.’s goal was the jolt his team needed to get back into a game that seemed out of reach.

“[The goal] gave us a chance, it gave us a sense of belief,” McLellan stated. “Because before that, we had limited grade-A chances.

“When [Athanasiou] scored, the bench perked up a little more, and we thought, or believed, we could earn a power play, and we knew we had to score on that. So, Andreas’s goal allowed us to wade our way back into the game, and it did give us a spark.”

Not since January 2019 has Andreas Athanasiou had a three-game goal-scoring streak, but for the Woodbridge, Ont. native, he’s hoping that his consistency will propel the Kings to victory sooner rather than later. Being one of the newest Kings and being assigned No. 22 — fan-favorite Trevor Lewis‘s old number — there was a fair bit of reticence directed towards A.A. The former Barrie Colt, though, has answered the bell thus far.

While his offensive contributions have been noted, Athanasiou’s speed makes him exciting to watch, and even his defensive play is surely making some of his former critics take notice. In fact, a defensive effort late in Tuesday’s game helped keep Nazem Kadri from scoring an otherwise-effortless empty-netter for the Avs.

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It is still very early in the season, but despite the Kings 0-1-2 record, the club has a few silver linings, including A.A. So, even with the losses, Andreas Athanasiou is certainly giving Kings fans a viable reason to keep tuning in.