Even in the most depressing times of his career, Jack Campbell reserved a space in the back of his mind for nights like this.
When he put his game under a microscope in Texas and Idaho it was difficult to see much light, but Campbell never let his positivity flicker out.
“You always got to believe in yourself,” Campbell said. “Once I got traded here [to the Kings], everybody was amazing – the team, the guys, the coaches, the management – it really changed everything.”
Campbell was about as far he could be from the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL on Thursday. His first career shutout was on as big an October stage as it gets, a 3-0 win against the Montreal Canadiens in their charged-up home opener at Bell Centre.
Dion Phaneuf handed Campbell the puck in front of 21,302 silenced fans. It was the second game puck Campbell has collected in a week following his win against his hometown Detroit Red Wings last Sunday, and he has a place for them.
“I kind of like storing them with my parents, because it means a lot and I wouldn’t be here without them,” Campbell said. “I love them.”
Campbell’s 40-save shutout was nearly negated because a Montreal goal was initially allowed, but then disallowed, in the third period, to the resentment of a packed house that honored members of the 1993 Stanley Cup-winning team that beat the Kings.
Instead, three players who weren’t born when that Cup was lifted led the way offensively. Adrian Kempe ended a 36-game goal drought. Michael Amadio scored on a great setup by Jaret Anderson-Dolan for Anderson-Dolan’s NHL point. Jeff Carter, who got his first goal of the season and two assists, centered the two kids.
Kempe sprung out of the penalty box and elected to shoot on a two-on-one. It was a wise choice. He beat Carey Price stick side almost four minutes in for his first goal since Feb.7 and his fifth goal in three career games against Montreal. He let out a cathartic shout as he got up to celebrate but didn’t let on afterward.
“I haven’t been thinking about it,” Kempe said. “It’s a new season and a new beginning of the year and I had a good training camp. It’s just a normal goal. It’s a new season and a new game.”
Anderson-Dolan held off a defender behind the net and fed Amadio in the high slot for a slick connection that gave the Kings a 2-0 lead going into first intermission. Like Campbell, Anderson-Dolan said he’ll give the puck to a parent, mother, Fran, who flew in from Calgary, Canada, just before the game.
Anderson-Dolan called it a “really special” moment, and it has a backstory. Fran was a big Canadiens fan when he was growing up and made him one by default.
“There’s a bunch of pictures of me when I was younger, wearing Canadiens jerseys,” Anderson-Dolan said. “It’s kind of funny … I was never a Canadiens fan. She put it on me when I was a baby and then took some pictures. I didn’t have a choice.”
Fran still has some Canadiens’ mementos, including a chair from the old Montreal Forum, said Anderson-Dolan, who was raised by mothers Fran and Nancy.
“I think her mom was a fan and then she was kind of a fan, and she kind of got born into it,” he said of Fran. “Until I got drafted here, she was diehard. I think she still likes them a little bit more than the Kings.”
Kings coach John Stevens helped preserve the shutout by challenging Andrew Shaw’s goal because of goalie interference. The goal was originally waved off because of an apparent whistle, then allowed upon review, before the challenge in a strange double reversal.
Campbell said it was a “weird play” but he wasn’t going to sweat the details.
“It was nice that the guy said ‘No goal,’” Campbell said. “I’ll take it.”