Kings GM Dean Lombardi apologizes for his outburst, still upset over call

We’ve all had moments like Dean Lombardi had last night. You get in the middle of a heated contest, you’re struggling to get things right and then you’re asked about what’s bothering you and you blow off some steam verbally. For the rest of us it means either ticking off friends, making an ass of ourselves at a party, or getting thrown out of the bar.

For Lombardi, it means having to wake up the next day and see all over the Internet and in the newspapers about how you accused the NHL’s Vice-President of Hockey Operations, Mike Murphy, of making a bad call on a reviewed goal because Murphy was upset about not getting the GM job in Los Angeles years ago. It didn’t matter that Lombardi had a legitimate complaint over the call on Martin Hanzal’s second period goal that allowed it to count despite being batted in with a high stick, it’s the fact that Lombardi blew up and called out an NHL executive over it all.

Today, Lombardi apologized to Murphy over what he said and he feels pretty bad about the entire thing but hopes it took some heat off his struggling team as Sportsnet’s Mike Brophy shares.

“I called Mike Murphy and apologized first thing this morning,” Lombardi said. “He was very professional and a bigger man than me.”

Asked if he was trying to reflect attention away from his team which has been slumping after a terrific start, Lombardi admitted, “Yeah, there was some of that.”

Still, Lombardi was upset at the call and how the on-ice officials handled it.

“They are supposed to get together and discuss it so that one has the opportunity to over-rule the original call,” Lombardi said. “I mean it was so obvious it was knocked in with a high stick. Our defenceman Mike Greene is 6-foot-3 and the guy’s stick was right in his face.

Don’t be distracted too much by what Lombardi said last night, he had a very real and legitimate gripe and when things are going bad for your team, even the smallest slight against your team seems like a titanic issue. Lombardi’s rant also distracted away from what the Kings real issue now: scoring goals. The Kings still had 30 minutes of hockey to even things up and even with Lee Stempniak’s goal later in the period, it’s not as if the Kings were out of the game. The Kings had more than 30 shots on goal in the game and held Phoenix to just 15 shots of their own. On a night when the goalie is just on like how Ilya Bryzgalov was on all it took was one goal to make the difference.

Frustration coming down from the team front office usually doesn’t get such a public spectacle and for a guy like Lombardi, who keeps things close to the vest, it’s stunning to see. We hope everyone enjoyed it for what it is because it’s probably the last time we see this happen in L.A.

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist
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DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.

Fabbri’s first spoils McDavid’s debut as Blues down Oilers

Robby Fabbri, Justin Schultz
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ST. LOUIS (AP) — Rookie Robby Fabbri scored the tiebreaking goal midway through the third period to help the St. Louis Blues beat Edmonton 3-1 Thursday night, spoiling Oilers rookie Connor McDavid‘s NHL debut.

Vladimir Tarasenko had the tying goal for the Blues near the midpoint of the second period, and Troy Brouwer added an empty-netter with 18 seconds remaining in the third. Brian Elliott finished with 23 saves.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored in the first period for Edmonton and Cam Talbot had 28 saves.

McDavid, the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, took 22 shifts, played 18:07 and was on the ice for Brouwer’s goal. He had two shots on goal, and struggled on faceoffs – winning only three of 13.

Fabbri, a 19-year-old forward — and McDavid’s childhood friend — was also playing in his first NHL game. The Blues’ first-round pick in 2014 was one of three rookies in the St. Louis lineup, joining defensemen Colton Parayko and Joel Edmundson.

Nugent-Hopkins gave the Oilers a 1-0 lead late in the first period with a fluke power-play goal. He lost a face-off but when Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo tried to clear the puck it bounced off Alexander Steen and past Brian Elliott. Nugent-Hopkins was credited with the unassisted power-play goal with 2:38 remaining in the period.

Tarasenko tied it a 9:10 of the second after getting loose on a breakaway with a stretch pass from Alex Pietrangelo and beating Talbot through his legs.

Tarasenko, who signed an eight-year, $60 million extension in the offseason, was the last Blues player to score in his debut.

NOTES: McDavid and F Anton Slepyshev made their NHL debuts for the Oilers. … St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina dropped the ceremonial first puck. … The attendance was announced as standing room-only 19,327.