The Kings and Coyotes played six times last season. Three of the games were decided by one goal; two were decided by two goals; and the other time the Kings decided not to play defense and lost 6-3.
True to their nature –even in the preseason, with rosters full of players who will spend this season in the AHL, ECHL or Canadian junior leagues –the Kings and Coyotes played a pair of one-goal games Thursday. The Coyotes squad that hosted the Kings in Glendale, Arizona, lost 3-2. The Coyotes squad that played in Anaheim a day earlier visited Staples Center and pulled out a 2-1 shootout win.
In Glendale [game summary | event summary], Dustin Penner scored with 49 seconds left in regulation to break a 2-2 tie. Tyler Toffoli had a goal and an assist, Trevor Lewis had three assists, and Ethan Moreau scored in the first period –chronologically, the Kings’ first goal of the preseason.
Jonathan Bernier started and saved 18 of 19 shots in two periods. Jeff Zatkoff got the third period and stopped 8 of 9.
At Staples Center, the vantage point of the press box offered a few more insights:
Jonathan Bernier’s first experience in the World Championships came to an abrupt end Thursday, when he allowed goals by Alexei Kaigorodov and Ilya Kovalchuk in the final 11 minutes of Team Canada’s 2-1 loss to Russia.
Russia will play FInland in the semifinals, while Canada is eliminated. Russia previously beat Canada for the World Championship gold medal in 2008 and 2009.
Bernier made 18 saves. According to IIHF.com:
The winning goal came when Alexander Radulov swung in behind the Canadian net and spotted Kovalchuk in the slot. The quick shot beat Jonathan Bernier between the pads as he slid across the crease. Bernier had been excellent all night, although Canada held a wide margin in shots, 37-20.
Bernier finished the tournament with a 2-1 record, 2.01 goals-against average, and .917 save percentage in three games.
Jonathan Bernier engaged in his first duel with Erik Ersberg since the most recent Kings training camp. Monday’s duel was far more entertaining.
Bernier made 23 saves in Canada’s 3-2 win over Sweden in Kosice, Slovakia on Monday. Erbserg battled well in a game in which Sweden was outshot 43-25, making 40 saves. The teams were tied 2-2 when Rick Nash deflected a Brent Burns shot past Ersberg with Canada on the power play at 12:31 of the third period.
Both teams get to keep playing, and could meet again in the finals. Canada will play Russia in the single-elimination quarterfinals on Thursday. Sweden plays Germany on Wednesday.
Earlier Monday, Jack Johnson and Team USA lost a relatively inconsequential 5-3 game to Swizterland. Johnson played a scoreless 23:49 (leading the U.S. in time on ice) and finished a minus-3.
The U.S. plays the Czech Republic on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. The winner of that game meets the winner of Germany-Sweden in the semifinals.
Jonathan Bernier’s last game before Saturday was an April 4 relief appearance in the Kings’ 6-1 loss to the Sharks in San Jose.
His thoughts, as told to IIHF.com, following Team Canada’s 3-2 win over Norway were understandable: “I was excited,” said Bernier, “because I haven’t played for about a month, so for me the big thing was to get that first shot on goal and get used to the bigger ice surface.”
Bernier finished with 25 saves, allowing both Norway goals in the final 10 minutes after Jason Spezza, John Tavares and James Neal spotted Canada a 3-0 lead.
James Reimer, who had started every game for Canada at the tournament prior to Saturday, served as the backup to Bernier rather than play on back-to-back days.
With the win, Canada clinched one of eight spots in the quarterfinal round.
Jack Johnson and Team USA breathed more life into their quarterfinal aspirations Saturday, while Michal Handzus and Team Slovakia met a disappointing fate.
Michal Handzus made his debut at the IIHF World Championships for Slovakia on Sunday, playing a scoreless 20:33 and finishing plus-1 in his team’s 4-3 loss to Germany.
Germany took a 4-0 lead into the third period before goals by Ladislav Nagy, Josef Stumpel and Pavol Demitra scored over the final 14:34 to make it interesting.
Jonathan Bernier wasn’t in the lineup for Canada in their 9-1 thumping of France. James Reimer and Devan Dubnyk split the goaltending duties.
Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier was added to Team Canada’s roster at the IIHF World Championships, which began today in Slovakia without him.
Bernier was not among the 19 players — six defensemen, 11 forwards and two goalies — who helped Canada beat Belarus 4-1 in their first game of the tournament.
In fact, neither he nor Kings defenseman Jack Johnson have been added to the official rosters of Canada or the U.S., respectively.
You can follow the tournament in its entirety from the IIHF website.
Bernier, 22, most recently earned a gold medal for Team Canada at the 2008 World Junior Championships (two games played, 1-1-0 record, 2.00 goals-against-average, .947 save percentage and one shutout) – one of four Kings to play for the team (Drew Doughty, Wayne Simmonds and Thomas Hickey). Bernier has also represented Canada at 2006 World U18 Championships and 2007 Super Series (best junior players from Canada and Russia competing); represented the QMJHL in the Canada-Russia Challenge in 2006; and he represented Team Canada Quebec at 2004 World U17 Hockey Challenge.
The Kings had never swept a four-game road trip before Tuesday, but managed to seal the deal against another Western Conference opponent in Nashville.
Jonathan Bernier made 30 saves on a night when the Predators outshot the Kings 32-18. Bernier improved to 4-1-0 against the Predators. He’s never faced another team more often in his young career, and Terry Murray will keep calling his number against Nashville so long as this continues.
“He worked hard to find the puck,” Murray said of Bernier. “He was really on top of the crease square, and absorbed a lot of those pucks. Strong game.”
“I think it’s just the type of team that gives me a lot of action, keeps me in the game,” Bernier said, and that was certainly true Tuesday. The Kings made more mistakes than Nashville — Murray couldn’t be happy with his team’s 17 giveaways — but also took advantage of their opponents’ miscues.
Anze Kopitar, Alec Martinez, Wayne Simmonds and Dustin Brown scored goals, the latter coming into an empty net with 1:02 left in the game.
Long Beach native Jonathon Blum scored the Preds’ only goal, a long blast that deflected off a Kings player (it looked on TV like Jack Johnson) in front of the net and tied the game 1-1. It was the second goal of Blum’s 12-game career.
Some notes and observations:
Anze Kopitar’s second career hat trick paced the Kings to a needed win in Columbus.
Jonathan Bernier stopped 32 of 34 shots in a game that saw the Kings (38-25-5, 81 points) get outshot by the fading Blue Jackets (31-27-9) 34-22. He allowed only goals to Scottie Upshall and Derrick Brassard in a game the Kings never trailed.
Brassard’s goal at 11:30 of the third period brought the Jackets within 3-2, before Justin Williams scored his 22nd goal of the season at 18:26 off a give-and-go with Dustin Penner. The line of Kopitar (three goals, plus-2), Williams (goal, two assists, plus-1) and Penner (assist, plus-1) combined for four goals, three assists and a plus-4 rating.
A few more notes:
The Kings let one slip away.
In a game they led for all but 89 seconds, the Kings watched the Dallas Stars leap two points ahead of them in the standings on Brenden Morrow’s goal 38 seconds into overtime.
The blame was squarely pointed toward a power play that failed to convert four chances spanning 9:00 — including a three-minute major penalty after Steve Ott was penalized for spearing late in the first period.
“We need to re-focus, re-adjust — especially on the power play — and I think maybe just relax a little bit,” said Justin Williams, who had a goal and an assist. “We know we’re struggling on the power play but we need to relax out there I think a little bit with the man advantage and in turn make plays because there are a lot of guys that are really good with the puck and we need to execute that.”
Willie Mitchell and Kyle Clifford also scored goals for the Kings (36-25-5, 77 points), who got 18 saves from Jonathan Bernier. With the Kings up 3-2 at 5:20 of the third period, Bernier was burned for a short-handed goal by Jamie Benn, who stole the puck from Drew Doughty just inside the Kings blue line and skated the length of the ice before depositing the puck between Bernier’s legs.
Mike Ribeiro and Trevor Daley also scored for Dallas (36-23-7, 79 points).
The difference in the Kings’ last two games wasn’t Jonathan Bernier or Dustin Penner. It was astronomical.
That said, Jonathan Bernier’s 25 saves and Dustin Penner’s debut were the most memorable aspects of a game decided on Jarret Stoll’s power-play goal with 7:47 left in the third period.
For the first time in a while, Bernier had to flash a nervous smile and get political in the dressing room after the game. That’s the reward for posting a shutout immediately after a 7-4 loss: Questions about whether you want to be the starter.
“For me, it’s not something I focus on,” Bernier said. “Me and Quickie, we’re here to win some hockey games. Quickie’s our number one. He’s done a tremendous job for us.”
Nobody’s denying Quick’s resume. But neither can one ignore his six goals allowed Monday against Detroit – a team the Kings might have to face in the playoffs. Terry Murray didn’t ignore Quick’s last outing by starting Bernier on Thursday, and now the coach can’t just as easily ignore Bernier’s shutout. Murray would not tip his thinking when asked after the game if he was inclined to start Bernier against Dallas.
Penner didn’t score, but he was directly involved in the goal, and had some good cycle shifts with Anze Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds (and Justin Williams, who took over for Simmonds at right wing in the third period). Penner’s only shot attempt was blocked, but he led the Kings with five hits.
A few more notes that won’t appear in tomorrow’s editions …