The passion inside Staples Center was ramped up well before the puck was dropped.
The gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic women’s hockey team was introduced one by one in a ceremony that brought out chants of “USA! USA!” from an announced crowd of 18,230.
Jonathan Quick played like he was inspired. His teammates followed suit. Buoyed by Quick’s 17-save third period, the Kings put on a late onslaught to come back from two goals down Monday night against the Vegas Golden Knights.
Dustin Brown finally brought down the house with a power-play goal in overtime to give the Kings an improbable 3-2 win. Brown scooped in a loose puck in the slot 3:14 into the extra period and the Kings ended a two-game losing streak.
“You can’t quit on a game,” Brown said. “I think what we’ve been pretty good at this year is sticking around games and finding ways to get goals late and keep us alive.
“Tonight, we found a way to get the next one.”
Anze Kopitar forced overtime when he scored on a one-timed shot off a pass from Dion Phaneuf with 11 seconds to play in regulation after Quick was pulled for an extra attacker.
“You could almost feel that goal at the end to tie coming with the pressure,” Kings forward Tyler Toffoli said.
Jeff Carter started the rally with his first goal this season, scoring on a shot from the right side on the power play that rebounded off Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and bounced off defender Cody Eakin’s helmet and into the Vegas net at 12:28 of the third period.
“We had times where Quickie had to come up with some big saves,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said, “so we need to stop allowing those [chances] to happen and just get better at exiting our zone and spending more time in their zone.”
Vegas got goals from Erik Haula in the first period and Reilly Smith in the third as the Golden Knights appeared to take the opening game of a home-and-home series that resumes Tuesday at Las Vegas.
Kings coach John Stevens calls Vegas the best transition team in the league, and the Golden Knights showed why on their first two goals. Smith blew past the Kings defense for an initial backhand shot, and then went to the net to convert a loose puck created by Karlsson’s shot 47 seconds into the third period.
The Kings outshot the Golden Knights 14-6 in the second period but couldn’t get the puck in Vegas’ net. Their most glorious and telling chance happened in the first minutes of the period when Carter had Kopitar’s feed in front of the net go under his stick.
It was perhaps an initial sign of rust for Carter, and an adjustment period for the Kings.
All their new acquisitions are in place yet are still being assimilated, along with Carter, into the lineup. General manager Rob Blake knows the window is small for them to put it together with 18 games remaining.
KINGS AT VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
When: Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. PST.
On the air: TV: NBCSN; Radio: 790.
Update: Vegas is 24-5-2 at T-Mobile Arena, including a 4-2 win against the Kings on Nov. 19. In the second game in as many nights for the two teams, goaltender Jack Campbell could make his first start with the Kings and second of his NHL career.