Los Angeles Kings 2, Vancouver Canucks 1 (SO)
You could say that the Canucks “left a mark” on the Kings last summer when they knocked them out of the playoffs, but that was in a figurative sense. As you can see from Anze Kopitar’s gnarled mouth (image via my buddy from The Royal Half, in case you couldn’t tell), the Canucks left a more literal mark in this one.
This time around, though, the Kings won … even if it happened via a glorified skills competition. Considering the likely dental injury Kopitar dealt with in this game, I don’t know if I’d say that he had the “last laugh” but he did help his team win with a gorgeous shorthanded goal. The Associated Press write-up captured the scene quite well.
Kopitar’s opening night appeared to be spoiled when he ran into the end of Manny Malhotra’s stick while trying to throw a check midway through the second period. He stayed down as blood pooled beneath him, and had to be helped off the ice and to the locker room. Kopitar returned to start the third period and beat Roberto Luongo with a backhand deke to open the shootout.
Jack Johnson sealed the shootout win with a simple-yet-effective wrist shot goal and the Kings received a tiny morsel of revenge against their rivals.
Jonathan Quick was solid in this game (23 for 24), but Roberto Luongo earned those obnoxious “Lou” chants by stopping 31 out of 32 shots. Both teams were unable to score in 5-on-5 situations, as each tally came via a power play or shootout.
Christian Ehrhoff scored the Canucks power-play goal with assists from the Sedin twins while Justin Williams provided the Kings’ goal, with Michal Handzus and Dustin Brown earned assists.
Ultimately, Kopitar’s face was a microcosm of an ugly, tough game between two probable contenders in the Western Conference. It might not have been pretty, but if both teams can play like this, they might see each other in the playoffs once again.