Kings give up late goal, but beat Canucks, 4-3, in shootout
You could call this the night of personal comebacks.
Take your pick in the Kings’ 4-3 shootout win against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night at Staples Center.
Candidate No. 1: Kings goalie Peter Budaj, the man who went the 2014-15 season without winning a game at the minor league level, won back-to-back starts in the NHL for the first time since 2014, when he was with Montreal.
Budaj faced 25 shots in helping lead the Kings against the Canucks, who suffered their first loss in five games. He stopped all three Canucks players in the shootout, and Tanner Pearson converted on his shootout opportunity to clinch the win.
Candidate No. 2: Kings winger Dustin Brown had his best game in recent memory, a three-point performance with one goal, which came shorthanded, and two assists. Brown had one three-point effort in 2015-16, against Edmonton on Dec. 29, in what was mostly a painful-looking, seasonlong struggle.
“We had everyone playing and we got off to a good start, a good lead and they battled back,” Brown said in his postgame TV interview. “It’s about staying with it and finding a way to get two points.”
The Kings are 2-3 and were 34.4 seconds from winning in regulation. But Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb went off for delay of game at 18:12 and the Canucks were able to later pull goalie Jacob Markstrom for an extra attacker.
Vancouver defenseman Alex Edler scored with 34.4 seconds left, beating Budaj with a shot from the left circle, using teammate Loui Eriksson as a screen to tie the score at 3.
The two other Kings’ goals came from McNabb and Pearson. Pearson, who scored on the power play at 18:24 of the first period, making it, 2-0, has four goals and an assist in three games since returning from his suspension for an illegal hit to the head.
The frantic finish capped what was a strange day of upheaval for the Kings’ organization, which already was dealing with the loss of No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick (groin injury), who could be out for about three months.
Then No. 2 goalie Jeff Zatkoff was injured during the morning skate — had to be helped off the ice in fact — and was placed on injured reserve later in the day.
Said Kings Coach Darryl Sutter: “He stopped a shot and his groin tightened up.”
Of course what happens in Los Angeles directly impacts the Ontario Reign.
Which is where it got even more interesting.
With Budaj starting in Saturday night’s game against the Vancouver Canucks at Staples Center, the Kings recalled goalie Jack Campbell on an emergency basis, so he could back up Budaj.
So goalie Jonah Imoo got the start for the Reign, his first in the American Hockey League, against San Jose’s minor league team on Saturday.
Backing up Imoo was none other than 46-year-old Dusty Imoo, Jonah’s father and the Reign’s goalie coach.
Indeed, Dusty backed up his son. The Reign public relations staff tweeted that he signed a pro tryout contract and would wear No. 70, a nice move since Jonah wears No. 35.
This happens to be Dusty’s second season with the Kings’ organization as a development coach. This may have been the epitome of a hands-on coach.
Follow Lisa Dillman on Twitter @reallisa
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