|ESPN.com: NHL Playoffs 2014||[Print without images]|
LOS ANGELES -- The first goal of the 2014 Stanley Cup finals is one that Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty wanted back.
He got the puck near the blue line in the offensive zone, tried a little curl and drag when Benoit Pouliot poked the puck away, streaked down the ice on a breakaway and beat Jonathan Quick.
Just like that, the New York Rangers had an early lead on the road in Game 1.
It was the rare example in this postseason that sometimes Doughty's playmaking can go the other way. It also made him angry.
"He gets mad and he gets better," Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell said. "As long as it's controlled."
As it turns out, it was controlled. Or controlled enough to eventually turn into a positive.
Angry Drew Doughty eventually made up for the error with a second-period goal that will be Exhibit A if he ends up winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. After Justin Williams made a nice pass to Doughty, all he did was put the puck between his legs to beat Derek Dorsett, create his own space in front of Henrik Lundqvist, then find the smallest of openings under Lundqvist's arm.
Just like that, the game was tied. The first-period mistake, history.
"When I get angry, I kind of turn it on," Doughty said after the game. "I try to throw my emotions the right way. Sometimes, I don't. It's a bad turnover. I wasn't happy with myself."
Doughty credited his teammates for showing the composure they've shown all postseason after trailing by two early. One of those goals he put on his shoulders. His teammates have also learned to trust that, eventually, Doughty's good will always outweigh the bad over the course of a game.
"Dewey is competitive. He's an unbelievable player. He has fun with it, too," forward Tyler Toffoli said. "He's not just out there playing defense. He's going to be offensive. He's going to make mistakes, but we believe in him. We know he's going to come back for us."
Doughty has room to tighten up his game as the series progresses. He finished Game 1 a minus-1 in 26:59, and the shot with which he scored was his only shot on goal. What a shot it was. The goal gave Doughty 17 points this postseason, which is good for seventh overall, regardless of position. He leads all defensemen in playoff points, with Brent Seabrook and P.K. Subban at second and third. They're not catching him. Ryan McDonagh might at No. 4 with 14 points, but he's got his work cut out.
Doughty's goal also broke a Kings franchise record for points by a defenseman in the playoffs, a record that stood for two whole seasons, set in 2012 by a 22-year-old kid named Doughty. It would be hard to find one of those record-breaking points any prettier than his Game 1 goal.
"There are very few defensemen in the league who can skate sideways. If you watch that goal, he was pretty much skating sideways to make that shuffle there," Mitchell said. "We all know, one of the best defensemen to ever play the game, [Nicklas] Lidstrom, how he can skate sideways. ... We're fortunate enough to have a player of that magnitude who can do that. He needed to do that to kind of get us back in the game."