Kings ruin Canucks' opener
Rogers Arena, Vancouver
Jonathan Quick (LA) — 23 saves
Roberto Luongo (VAN) — 31 saves
Jack Johnson (LA) — shootout winner
The Los Angeles Kings spoiled the Vancouver Canucks' opening night, just as they did 40 years ago.
After a lengthy pre-game ceremony commemorating Vancouver's 40th season in the NHL, Jack Johnson scored the shootout winner and Jonathan Quick made 23 saves as the Kings beat the Canucks 2-1 in their home opener Saturday.
Los Angeles did the same thing 40 years ago during Vancouver's debut in the NHL, beating the Canucks 3-1 that night.
Just as they did during a close first-round series (which the Canucks won 4-2) in last year's Stanley Cup playoffs, the Kings played Vancouver tight throughout the contest Saturday, which saw both goals scored on the man advantage in regulation time.
Christian Ehrhoff gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead at 11:58 of the second, and for a while it looked like that was all the scoring Vancouver needed, as Roberto Luongo turned away everything Los Angeles threw at him.
But with four minutes to go, Justin Williams scored to even the contest after Vancouver's Ryan Kesler took a late interference penalty.
"They booted us out of our ultimate dream last year and we kind of spoiled their opening night here tonight and we're happy for that," Williams said.
Though Henrik Sedin may have been named Vancouver's 13th captain before the game, it was the Canucks' 12th captain who stole the show. Luongo — who gave up the captaincy in the off-season — made 31 stops.
"It's a little disappointing to lose our home opener, but it's a process," Luongo said. "We fought hard. Unfortunately, it came down to a shootout."
The biggest saves came in the overtime session, when Los Angeles had a power play for the final two minutes. The Kings outshot Vancouver 6-0 in OT and 32-24 overall.
But Luongo couldn't hold L.A. off in the shootout, as Johnson and Anze Kopitar both scored while Quick — who matched Luongo save-for-save during the game — stopped both Vancouver shooters.
"The boys came in here with a bit of a chip on their shoulder just because of [last season]," Quick said. "But at the end of the day it's one game of 82 so take it for what it's worth."
The Canucks (0-0-1) host Florida on Monday, while the Kings (1-0-0) will try to spoil another home opener when they visit Calgary on Sunday.
A 40-year fete
The Canucks held a big pre-game ceremony honouring the start of their 40th season in the NHL. The team paraded out most of the members from its opening night roster during the 1970-71 season, including Pat Quinn, who spent two seasons with the club before eventually going onto a very successful coaching career (which included a memorable stint back in Vancouver). The Canucks' first captain, Orland Kurtenbach, awarded Henrik Sedin with his new jersey sporting the "C," officially naming him the 13th captain of the club. Vancouver and Los Angeles commemorated the game by wearing their vintage jerseys from opening night during the 1970-71 season, with L.A. sporting its classic purple-and-gold number and the Canucks wearing their blue-and-greens with the old hockey stick logo. Neither team had names on the backs of their shirts.
Stick in the mouth, puck in the net
Kopitar didn't have a fun outing to begin with. Nine minutes into the second period the Kings forward took a stick right in the mouth, courtesy of a Manny Malhotra follow-through. Kopitar was bleeding, and a trainer was seen picking up teeth off the ice. The 23-year-old stayed in the game though, returning after he was stitched up. He subsequently scored the prettiest goal in the shootout when he got Luongo to bite on a forehand fake and roofed a backhand into the top of the net.
"Unless you are told not to come back, you don't think there is any doubt [you will return]," said Kopitar, who is now sporting a jagged scar running from the middle of his lip to the edge of his mouth.
With files from The Associated Press