ST. PAUL, Minn. — Who knew Kings right wing Trevor Lewis was just patiently waiting to break out as a goalie?
Lewis made a body save in the crease in the final minute not long after Jeff Carter's dash of brilliance on a rebound had tied the score at 2-2.
Then Kings goalie Jonathan Quick took over in the shootout, stopping Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu, the latter with a clever poke check. Centers Anze Kopitar and Carter scored in the shootout for the Kings, giving them a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild in the season opener on Thursday night.
“It's a quick little chess match you're playing,” Quick said of the shootout.
Carter's contribution on the scoresheet and Lewis' clutch play allowed the Kings to get two crucial points on the road.
Another plus was the return of defenseman Willie Mitchell, who played his first NHL game in more than 15 months and weighed in with big minutes, playing nearly 24 1/2 minutes.
“Maybe it was not as big a moment as I thought it would be,” said Mitchell, out all last season with an injured knee. “Who's kidding who? It was still cool.... I'll probably sit on the plane and have a glass of … water.”
Quick called it a “gritty road win,” and Drew Doughty said it was good to “steal” the two points. And in many ways that's what unfolded. The teams traded goals in the opening period and then the Kings went flat in the second, being outshot, 13-3. They finally started exerting pressure shortly before Carter's goal.
Additionally, the line of Dwight King, Kopitar and Justin Williams didn't even last two periods. By the end of the second, captain Dustin Brown was back at left wing with Kopitar and Williams and King dropped down to the third line with center Jarret Stoll and Lewis.
But the rust they displayed ultimately did not cost the Kings.
“I've said it a couple of times before,” Kopitar said. “That what good teams do. They find a way to win because we weren't that great tonight. Everybody in here knows it.”
The Kings had great fun teasing Lewis about the save.
“I just tried to make myself big and it hit me,” he said. “I think it was a pretty good butterfly there.... Everyone kind of gave me a high-five but kind of saying I looked like a roller-hockey goalie.”
Said Kopitar, joking: “[Lewis] was in the crease with no stick. I don't know if he two-pad stacked it. He kept it out of the net. That's all that counts.”
Minnesota's first goal — by Matt Cooke, at 1:04 into the game — was reviewed, and it was ruled he did not use a distinct kicking motion to direct it in with his skate. Kings Coach Darryl Sutter was not pleased, saying: “The first goal — let's not talk about it. I reviewed it.”
The other Kings' goal came from Doughty, a one-timer on the power play, in the first period to make it 1-1 at 7:40. It should be noted that Doughty went 28 games before scoring last season.
He could appreciate the fine art of Lewis' save.
“That was great,” Doughty said. “I don't think he had his stick either, so he was playing straight-up goalie.”
In that scrambling, wild sequence, Quick also made a sharp save on Wild forward Charlie Coyle.
“I knew there was a couple of guys there that were playing my position when I needed the help there,” Quick said.
“We were bending a little bit there at the end but we didn't break.”
Up next for the Kings
When: 5 PDT.
Where: MTS Center.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 1150.
Record vs. Jets (2013): Did not play.
Etc.: Quick is scheduled to start for the Kings.