Game 1; 1-0-0
ST. PAUL, Minn. – If the opening few minutes where any indication, it looked as if the Los Angeles Kings would be off to another slow start to the season like last year.
After a controversial goal (in the risk of sounding bias, I still cannot figure out how the goal stood) put the Wild up 1-0, it looked as if the home team was primed to keep their season home-opening winning streak moving along in addition to their recent home-ice dominance of the Kings.
At the 1:07 mark of the opening frame, a defensive lapse by Jeff Carter found the puck on the tape of Kyle Brodziak who shot on net from a terrible angle that went off Matt Cooke’s skate and in.
On the replay, it appeared as if Cooke made a kicking motion with his skate. Heck, there was a kicking motion involved. Yet despite reviewing the play, the goal stood.
But Los Angeles didn’t give up.
While the Kings appeared to be sluggish at times during the course the evening, they were able to get something going on the power play.
Given how much they struggled on the man-advantage over the last couple of seasons, it was refreshing to see Los Angeles capitalize on their first power play of the season.
After Minnesota’s Zenon Konopka shot the puck over the glass, the Kings’ special teams unit went right to work as Drew Doughty blasted a one-timer from Slava Voynov past Nicklas Backstrom to tie the game. Anze Kopitar also picked up his first point on the year with the assist.
Before the first was through, the Wild showed their skill on the power play as well as Jonas Brodin netted his first of the year to put the home team back in front.
While the second period was scoreless, the Wild outshot the Kings 13-3 and 24-11 through the opening 40 minutes. But Jonathan Quick, putting that early goal behind him, shone in between the pipes leaving the Wild scratching their heads with a plethora of shots but no more goals to show for their efforts.
In the third, Los Angeles’s resiliency came out in full-force.
While it was by no means a convincing turn-around, the Kings did outshoot the Wild 6-5 in the third before Jeff Carter backhanded it home to tie the game at the 13:14 mark of the period. Matt Frattin, in his first regular season game as a King, notched his first point with his new club setting up Carter for the assist. Robyn Regehr helped out with the second helper.
Despite an undisciplined from Willie Mitchell late, the Kings stood tall, most notably in the final minute when forward Trevor Lewis jumped in to make a huge save to keep the score tied and his Kings out of the loss column to send the contest into overtime.
After an uneventful extra frame, the game went to a shootout, a department where the Kings had struggled over the last couple years. But if that was the case, it certainly didn’t show on this night as Jonathan Quick stopped both Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu while the Kings made no mistake offensively as both Kopitar and Carter scored to clinch the win for the silver-and-black.
With that, Los Angeles picks up their first win in Minnesota since February 28, 2012 and in the process, end the Wild’s season home-opening winning streak.
While the Kings shouldn’t have been as badly outshot as they were in the middle frame, this is a win where a lot of positives can be taken. The goaltending was outstanding as well as the defense plus the power play was as smooth as silk. Even the shootout minus Jarret Stoll was flawless.
It may just be the first of 82 outings but a win’s a win and the Los Angeles Kings move north to Winnipeg with that crucial early-season momentum.