The Kings faced a 20-year-old rookie goaltender making his NHL debut for a last-place team with nothing to play for except pride Thursday night at Staples Center. Naturally, it ended up as a test of wills that defied pregame expectations.
Jeff Carter, Dustin Brown and Anze Kopitar scored in a shootout to give the Kings a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, saving them from having to explain how it all went wrong against the last-place team in the NHL’s overall standings.
Carter and Mike Richards scored in the game’s opening 7 minutes, 14 seconds against Colorado goalie Sami Aittokallio, and it looked too easy for the Kings. They spent the rest of the game trying to stand their ground against the Avalanche’s push-back.
Paul Stastny scored in the second period to get the Avalanche closer and Patrick Bordeleau supplied the tying goal at 5:05 of the third. What looked like an easy night suddenly turned into a nerve-jangling adventure for the Kings.
“We’re playing a team with nothing to lose, right?” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said.
There was one more wrinkle, too.
Aittokallio was forced from the game after suffering cramps in both legs with 10:36 remaining in the third period and the teams deadlocked at 2-all. Jean-Sebastien Giguere replaced Aittokallio and turned away the Kings down the stretch and during overtime.
Giguere was helpless against Carter, Brown and Kopitar in the shootout.
“Since I went third, you kind of get the read on the goalie and I played against Giguere enough years now where I guess I got to know him,” Kopitar said. “I guess he got to know me, too. I just wen in there. He kind of gave me the lower blocker and I figured I’d come fake him, and it worked.”
PA Parenteau scored the Avalanche’s only goal against Jonathan Quick in the shootout.
It was a reversal of fortune for the Kings’ goalies after Jonathan Bernier failed to stop any of the Ducks’ three shooters in Sunday’s loss at the Honda Center and Quick did the same in a loss to the Minnesota Wild on March 30 at St. Paul, Minn.