LA Kings finally win first game of the season in OT over the Minnesota Wild- October 2015

The LA Kings went into the game vs the Minnesota Wild looking for their first win of the season.

They are 0­-3 while Minnesota is 3­0. The Wild decided to start backup goalie Darcy Kuemper for

the first time. Dustin Brown moved past Rob Blake into 4th place with 806 games played in front

of a full house crowd at the Staples Center. LA came out with a sense of urgency and great

energy. They outplayed and outshot (16-­5) the Wild in the first period and came away with the

first goal on a carry over penalty at the end of the opening period. Jeff Carter started the play and

dropped it off to new comer Milan Lucic who found a wide open Tyler Toffoli who blasted it

home. The Kings continued their strong play in the second period but squandered some great

opportunities on the power play including Tanner Pearson who missed a wide open net on his

backhand. The Kings outshot Minnesota 32­-14 after 2 periods yet only led 1­0. The Wild tied it up in the

period being very aggressive and drawing an early penalty. LA made a mistake leaving Zach Parise

open on the power play as he got off some good shots and finally Mikko Koivu scored on a rebound.

Quick made some key saves late to send it into OT. The new format this year in the NHL was very

exciting with the 3 vs 3 in overtime. Both teams had some great chances and near breakaways.

Finally, the Kings took advantage as Quick played the puck that he would usually cover up but that

would have forced a faceoff. He started the play and Kopitar got open on for a wrist shot goal that

ended the game and gave LA their first win of the season.

There were some big changes over the off season including the release of Mike Richards and

Jarrett Stoll both due to drug situations. The biggest loss was Mr. Game 7 Justin Williams who

signed with Washington as a free agent. Their biggest gain was free agent Milan Lucic from

Boston to add more fire­power which hasn’t shown at all thus far with only 2 total goals in the first

3 games. They also acquired veteran defenseman Chistian Ehrhoff to help offset the loss of Slava

Voynov, who returned to Russia to avoid the legal issues with his domestic violence case.

Jonathan Quick hasn’t been his best in goal either. The Kings have won 2 of the last 4 Stanley

Cups while Chicago has won 3 of the last 5. The Wild is an up and coming team and very

underrated. They are led by Zach Parise who already has 5 goals in the first 3 games. Thomas

Vanek should help pick up the scoring slack and defenseman Ryan Sutter is one of the game’s best.

Interviews after the game included Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Milan Lucic, Drew Doughty and Coach Sutter.

Here is what each said.

Doughty said “We let in the one power play goal but we killed off some pk’s including the one at the end of the game that. We are happy with our effort.  The 3 on 3 is very cool. It is a good thing especially for our team.  Individually everyone stepped up tonight which was the difference from the prior games.

Jeff Carter- “You cannot even compare the energy and effort from the past games. Guys are in the right frame of mind now.  Good stuff now.”  I asked if there was any frustration after the second period not being up by more than one goal.  “We played many enough times to know what we are up against as goals are hard to come by.  Good job by us.  For overtime, we had a few chances in OT but it was fun and exciting.  If you lose your guy or make a mistake, you are screwed. There is a bit more strategy now.

Milan Lucic- ” I want to contribute more as it is tough starting with a new team.  The positive things are getting better and stay on top of myself.  Starts at practice and goes into the game.  We played a pretty good game tonight.  There is a pressure to impress everyone and fit in.  Psychologically.   We need to take ownership and get better with this 5 game homestand.  We need to win more puck battles and create more chances in the O zone.”   I asked if there was any letdown in the 3rd period and he said, ” yes maybe a little bit and some had to do with them pushing and to get back into the game.  When you have the lead going into the third, you have to make sure you continue doing what you were doing.  I have never been a big fan of the shootout but I love the overtime and it is more exciting.  The shootout comes down to a skill competition so the gratification is better winning in overtime.”

Coach Sutter, ” I like the 3 on 3 better than the 4 x 4.   We just have to cover guys better.  I thought our energy has been good in all the games. We have to shoot the puck.  If you don’t shoot the puck, you cannot score.  We took 3 penalties in the third period and thankful we killed 2 of 3 of them off.”

Kopitar- “I liked the overtime minus the hit I took.  A lot of ice out there. Quicky playing the puck out was new as we haven’t done that before.  Key is to win the faceoffs.  I was pretty tired and just wanted to get the shot on net as I needed a change. Our effort was a lot better. We all know what we have got to do and nothing special we have to say.  We have great character in the room.  We took a few penalties in the offensive zone and we had some crucial kills. Our pk was better than before.” I asked if the momentum changed after the 2nd period.   He said, “We didn’t plan to pull back but give them some credit.  We kept on pressing.”

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