The Kings played their customary methodical game and pulled out a 3-2 shootout victory Thursday over the Minnesota Wild. Drew Doughty and Jeff Carter scored in regulation and Anze Kopitar and Carter had the only goals during a shootout. Jonathan Quick blanked the Wild in the final two periods plus overtime and the shootout. Stop if you’ve read any of this before. The Kings followed a similar game plan the last two seasons. Here’s a closer look at the Kings’ victory in their season-opening game in St. Paul, Minn.
1. Quick is often the Kings’ best player and frequently the best goaltender in the NHL, something everyone in the hockey world should note now, before the Sochi Olympics begin, so they’re not taken by surprise. Quick was at his best against the Wild, which is to say he was unflappable in the face of some dominating play from Minnesota. The Wild got a debatable goal in the opening moments and then clicked on a first-period power play. Then they got nothing the rest of the way as Quick turned them away again and again. His play bought the Kings time to rally, which they did in the third period.
2. Carter is the NHL’s undercover superstar. He rarely speaks to Kings beat reporters and is not a fixture on radio or TV broadcasts. He lets his game speak for itself, which makes you wonder if opposing teams forget about him when he comes to town because there are no long stories about his scoring greatness or interviews with local radio or TV outlets. It can be the only explanation for why the Wild left him so alone on his third-period goal. Flying under the radar seems to suit him well, but leaving him unmarked isn’t a sound defensive plan for teams. The Kings fed him the puck and watched him beat a defenseless goalie, proving once again that opponents ignore him at their own peril.
3. Kings coach Darryl Sutter has been known to tinker with his line combinations now and then, and he was at it again Thursday. Sutter started the season with Dustin Brown playing with Jarret Stoll and Trevor Lewis and had Dwight King with Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams. Midway through the game, Sutter shifted King to a grinding line with Colin Fraser and Jordan Nolan and moved Brown back to his customary spot with Kopitar and Williams. Sutter gets cranky when reporters try to classify his lines as first, second, third and fourth, mainly because he knows he can shift players around and not miss a beat.