Kings almost let a big one get away
Teddy Purcell had the right idea.
“The nice plays weren’t going in,” he said, so he simply threw the puck in front of the net and hoped for an ugly goal.
And got it.
His sharp-angled shot glanced off Thomas Greiss’ pad and between the San Jose goalie’s legs with 5:10 left in the third period Tuesday, ending the Sharks’ four-goal comeback and lifting the Kings to their first victory of the season.
Their 6-4 triumph wasn’t one for the textbooks -- the Sharks scored four times on the power play -- but it was their first and that was enough.
“It’s a win, and I thought it was a good game,” Anze Kopitar said. “We were shooting the puck a lot: My shot from way out went in and Teddy got one from behind the net. We were fortunate to get good bounces at the right time.”
Davis Drewiske secured the victory for the Kings (1-1) by scoring into an empty net, his first NHL goal. Ryan Smyth scored his first goal as a King and Rob Scuderi suffered his first nose injury -- bruised but not broken -- and certainly not his last.
“The most important thing out of this game that we needed to take away . . . was the composure to stick to the game plan,” Coach Terry Murray said. “There was a lot of hard play, heavy play.”
Twenty-six seconds after Dany Heatley forged a 4-4 tie with a blistering shot from just inside the left circle, Purcell put the Kings ahead by victimizing Greiss, who had replaced starter Evgeni Nabokov in the second period.
“He has a lot of holes and an upright stance,” said Purcell, who had faced Greiss often in the American Hockey League and used that knowledge to elate a less-than sellout crowd of 15,035 at Staples Center.
The Kings had a solid first period and scored the game’s first goal. Alexander Frolov made a pass from behind the net and into the high slot, where Michal Handzus took a shot that was stopped. Wayne Simmonds backhanded the rebound home at 5:49, the Kings’ first even-strength goal of the season.
The Kings made one change to their lineup. Rookie defenseman Alec Martinez, who suffered what Murray called a lower-body injury during practice Monday, couldn’t play. He was replaced by Peter Harrold.
Another difference was that goaltender Jonathan Quick was as sharp in the early stages Tuesday as he had been hapless last Saturday, stopping all 14 shots he faced in the first period.
A scrum at the end of the period led to a penalty against San Jose’s Ryane Clowe, and the Kings capitalized at 1:52 of the second period.
Drew Doughty had the puck at the right point and passed diagonally to Kopitar, who was near the left-wing boards. Kopitar threw the puck in front, where Dustin Brown got a piece of it. The puck bounced to Smyth, who lifted it over the glove of the fallen Nabokov.
Quick used his glove to stop Patrick Marleau on a breakaway at 7:44, and his teammates rewarded him by scoring twice in a span of 56 seconds, chasing Nabokov.
Each team had a player in the penalty box when Handzus, along the right-wing boards, rifled the puck toward the front of the net and Jack Johnson batted it down and into the net at 11:20. Kopitar made it 4-0 at 12:16 when his knuckler fluttered over Nabokov’s left shoulder, the last shot the goalie saw before he was replaced by Greiss.
The Sharks scored twice on power plays to cut that deficit in half before the period ended. Devin Setoguchi scored at the 16-minute mark on a one-timer, set up on a slick pass from Joe Thornton, and former King Rob Blake redirected a pass from Thornton past Quick at 19:43 during the late stages of a double-minor penalty called against Frolov for high-sticking Setoguchi.
The period also featured a skirmish at 13:24. Jason Demers had spun Drewiske around as the Kings defenseman pursued the puck in the corner, but Brad Staubitz, trailing the play, came in from an angle to elbow Drewiske into the glass and to his knees.
Raitis Ivanans came to his teammate’s defense and fought San Jose enforcer Jody Shelley, and the Kings ended up with a power play because Staubitz got an extra charging penalty for his misdeed.
San Jose cut the Kings’ lead to 4-3 early in the third. Setoguchi was unchecked by the right post at 1:01 when he prodded a shot home after Thornton had sent a backhander to the front of the net.
“I think besides their power-play goals we did a good job keeping them outside,” said Scuderi, who took a puck in the face in the third period.
“For the most part, the team defense was pretty good.”
Good enough for an ugly victory.