Los Angeles Hockey: Paul Kariya

Kings: Pavol Demitra was a bright star during brief stay

September, 7, 2011
Pavol Demitra didn’t spend much of his NHL career in Los Angeles, just enough to time to leave one of his lasting impressions.

Demitra, who was among those killed Wednesday in Russia when a plane carrying members of the Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team crashed shortly after takeoff, played for the Kings during the 2005-06 season.

Despite missing 24 games because of injuries, Demitra still finished second on the team with 25 goals and third with 62 points. Perhaps the highlight of his stay came on Nov. 19, 2005, when he recorded the fourth hat trick of his career in a 4-3 victory against visiting Colorado, sending hats spiraling from the Staples Center crowd and onto the ice.

The third goal broke a 3-3 tie with 3 1/2 minutes remaining and was netted after Demitra's pass to Lubomir Visnovsky was blocked back to him by Colorado defenseman Karlis Skrastins, who was also on Wednesday's doomed flight.

Dustin Brown is the only player on last season’s roster who was on the Kings that season, but another former teammate, Hall of Fame forward Luc Robitaille, the Kings president of business operations, remembers Demitra living up to expectations right from the start.

“When he came to us he was going to be one of our top guys,” Robitaille told the L.A. Times. “He certainly didn't disappoint.”

Demitra was a three-time All Star and former Lady Byng winner when he signed with the Kings as an unrestricted free agent in the summer of 2005. His three-year, 13.5-million deal looked like a good investment when he entered the Olympic break tied for the team lead with 57 points, despite missing three weeks in January with a deep leg bruise.

However, he suffered nasal fractures and bleeding behind an eye when he was struck in the face with the puck while playing for his native Slovakia at the Olympic Games, then suffered a concussion in his first game back. He appeared in just eight games following the Olympics.

On daft day that June, he was traded to the Minnesota Wild for Patrick O’Sullivan, who was later part of a three-team trade that brought over current winger Justin Williams. Also included in the deal was the Wild’s No. 1 pick that year, Trevor Lewis, who is still a member of the Kings.

Demitra’s former agent, Rich Winter, told Edmonton’s Sports Radio Team 1260 that Demitra always had a fire in his eye, ever since he fell into the ninth round of the 1993 draft. He made the Ottawa Senators that fall and stuck around for parts of 15 more seasons.

“He committed to me the minute he was drafted that he would show these guys hard work and determination,” Winter said.

And he did. Only three players taken before Demitra have more goals in their career, Paul Kariya, Jason Arnott and Miroslav Satan.

Ducks: Top 10 moments of 2010-11

April, 25, 2011
Drum roll, please...

10. Hiller’s heroics: Ducks goalkeeper Jonas Hiller stopped 39 shots Jan. 2 against the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks, including 19 in the third period, leading his team to a 2-1 victory at Honda Center. It was that type of performance the Ducks sorely missed during the postseason, as Hiller sat out all but three games following his first All-Star appearance with vertigo symptoms.

9. Fine debut: In his first NHL appearance, Kyle Palmieri notched the tying goal late in the third period Nov. 3 against visiting Tampa Bay, allowing Ryan Getzlaf to score in overtime and provide the Ducks a 3-2 victory that sparked a season-high six-game winning streak after a 4-7-1 start.

8. King-sized victory: The Kings stole all the headlines the first month of the season, getting off to a franchise-best 12-3 start, but entered their first meeting of the season against the Ducks having lost six of their last seven. Anaheim fans felt great pleasure watching Hiller stop 27 shots and shut out the Kings, 2-0, on Nov. 29, sending them spiraling back to Los Angeles.

7. Lubo makes history: Lubomir Visnovsky became the first defenseman in franchise history to record a hat trick on March 4. His final goal against visiting Dallas came with 3.8 seconds remaining in overtime and lifted the Ducks to a 4-3 victory. Teemu Selanne had tied the score for the Ducks with 1:03 remaining in regulation.

6. The Finnish(er): In a key game March 23 in Dallas, Selanne scored the tying goal with 5.2 seconds remaining in regulation, giving rookie defenseman Cam Fowler a chance to win it, 4-3, in overtime. Four times in the last two months of the regular season Selanne scored the tying goal in the final minutes of regulation and the Ducks won each in overtime, providing key points in their playoff drive. The Stars, meanwhile, missed the playoffs by two points.

(Read full post)

Ducks: Selanne, Fowler salvage another overtime victory

March, 23, 2011
Ducks 4, Dallas Stars 3 (OT)

Eight keys to the game:

THE FACTS: Teemu Selanne tied the score with 6.4 seconds remaining in regulation at American Airlines Center in Dallas and rookie defenseman Cam Fowler won it 1:42 into overtime on a pass from Bobby Ryan for Anaheim's league-leading 26th one-goal victory.

THE STAT: The Ducks won in overtime for the third straight game and fifth in the last 10. They have won 13 out of 18 games that have gone to overtime or shootout this season.

TURNING POINT: After the Stars took a 3-2 lead with 6:39 remaining in the game, the Ducks pulled goalkeeper Ray Emery with about a minute left. Anaheim got a fortuitous bounce off a referee in their offensive zone and the puck came to Saku Koivu, who worked his way into the middle. Koivu was nudged off the puck, but it continued toward Selanne who had room to slam the puck into the net.

HOT: In the opening five minutes of the third period, Ducks forward Corey Perry tied the score, 2-2, after the Stars had taken a 2-1 lead 11 seconds earlier. It was Perry’s ninth goal in the last seven games and 40thoverall, joining Selanne (five times) and Paul Kariya (three) as the only Ducks to score at least 40 in a season.

NOT: Alex Goligoski scored the first goal for Dallas, but also had five giveaways, a two-minute delay of game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass and was a minus-two for the game.

GOOD MOVE: Fowler set up his third winner of the season with a takeaway in his defensive zone. He quickly passed the puck over to Ryan and then sped to the net for a 2-on-1. Ryan picked the perfect moment to slide the puck over to Fowler and he flicked it past Dallas goalkeeper Kari Lehtonen, keeping the Ducks in eighth place in the Western Conference standings.

BAD MOVE: Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin had a costly turnover in his offensive zone that led to the goal by Dallas late in the third period, giving them a 3-2 lead that nearly held up until the end.

NOTABLE: Perry is the first NHL player in five years to rack up at least 40 goals and 100 penalty minutes. The last player to achieve those numbers was Brendan Shanahan of the Red Wings in 2005-06.

UP NEXT: Thursday at Nashville, 5 p.m.