Friday, October 7, 2011
Kings 3, Rangers 2 (OT)
By Dan Arritt
Kings 3, New York Rangers 2 (OT)
Eight keys to the game:
THE FACTS: In his first game in a Kings uniform, Mike Richards came up huge, scoring the tying goal with five minutes left in regulation and dishing off the game-winner to Jack Johnson with 52 seconds remaining in overtime in the season opener Friday night at Ericsson Globe in Stockholm, Sweden.
THE STAT: Kings coach Terry Murray wasn’t kidding when he said he’d put the gas pedal to the floor with defenseman Drew Doughty, who joined the team just a week ago after missing the first two weeks of training camp while negotiating a new eight-year, $56-million contract. Doughty played a team-high 26 minutes 54 seconds, five minutes more than the next-most minutes played by a teammate. He was more solid than spectacular. It will be interesting to see how well he bounces back for Saturday’s game against the Buffalo Sabres in Berlin, Germany.
TURNING POINT: With the Kings trailing, 2-1, in the closing minutes, Brad Richardson used his speed to carry the puck down the left side of the offensive zone. He spotted Richards crashing the net in the slot and fed a well-timed pass in his direction. Richards kept his stick blade on the ice while out-muscling Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto and redirected the puck past goalkeeper Henrik Lundqvist.
HOT: It was difficult to tell Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams were coming off offseason surgeries. The duo started off the game on fire, combining on the Kings first goal. But the Rangers made some adjustments after the opening period, putting Artem Anisimov on Kopitar and forcing him to work harder in his defensive zone. Richards, Richardson and Dustin Brown then stepped up and carried the team during the second half of the game. On defense, second-year player Alec Martinez was the best defensemen on the ice for much of the game, getting high-quality looks on the power play and playing smartly on the defensive end.
NOT: Though the game-winner came with the man-advantage, the Kings still need some work on the power play. They were 0-for-4 heading into overtime after missing out on a man-advantage situation for the final two minutes of regulation. They also went on the power play twice in the opening five minutes of the game, but could only generate three shots on goal. Despite out-shooting the Rangers, 13-4, in the first period, they came away tied, 1-1.
GOOD MOVE: Johnson doesn’t have a game-winning goal in his previous five years in the NHL, much less a walk-off winner, but he looked like he knew where to go against the Rangers. With the teams skating 4-on-3 following Ryan McDonagh's tripping penalty on Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell in New York’s offensive zone, Kopitar had room to find Richards down low to the right of the crease. Johnson crashed the other goal post and Richards was able to get the puck through traffic, where Johnson took advantage of the open side of the net.
BAD MOVE: Kings goalie Jonathan Quick did not see a shot on goal for the first 15 minutes of the game, which could answer why he looked so awkward when the puck finally flew his way. Six seconds after absorbing his first shot on goal, Rangers forward Ryan Callahan took a tough-angle shot from inside the icing line and it somehow got past Quick and into the far side of the net, tying the score, 1-1.
NOTABLE: Kings left wing Dustin Penner did not play in the game due to a lower-body injury. He was replaced on the top line by Simon Gagne. Callahan finished with 11 of New York’s 26 shots on goal.
UP NEXT: Saturday vs. Buffalo Sabres in Berlin, Germany, 11 a.m. (PT)