Goalie Jonathan Quick made 27 saves and kept the game close with the Wild swarming, paving the way for the Kings’ shootout victory in the season opener.
With a minute left in Thursday night’s season opener, Torrey Mitchell sent a puck to the goalmouth and chaos ensued as Kyle Brodziak and Matt Cooke tried to bury the potentially winning goal against the Los Angeles Kings.
A pile of bodies collapsed around the crease. Slava Voynov blocked one shot, Trevor Lewis another. Pucks slid off sticks, deflecting everywhere but behind elastic all-world goalie Jonathan Quick.
“There were like eight guys crawling in the crease,” said Cooke, who had previously scored on his first shift in a Wild sweater. “The puck keeps bouncing back to us, but we can’t really get a clean shot. I thought we had it.”
The Wild scored twice in the first period and held the 2012 Stanley Cup winners to 11 shots through two. Yet somehow, the Wild’s string of 11 consecutive home-opening victories ended when the opportunistic Kings forced overtime with a third-period goal to eventually seize the extra point in a 3-2 shootout win.
“The old shootout, eh?” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “It’s funny what that extra point makes you feel at the end of the game.”
The Wild felt it deserved better, and signs of improvement were there.
In the first 40 minutes, Wild forwards crashed the blue paint. The defensemen jumped into the play and the Wild generated continuous speed through the middle. Defensively, the Wild gave up next to nothing, other than Drew Doughty’s power-play one-timer past a screened Niklas Backstrom.
In fact, the Wild routinely forced the Kings to cough up pucks. Yet every time, especially in the second, Quick — always the contortionist — closed the door.
Zach Parise, for one, was blanked on eight shots.
“The finish wasn’t there,” Parise said. “Opportunities, you’ve got to put them in. You can’t let a team like that hang around. They’re very comfortable playing in tight games.”
Jonas Brodin gave the Wild a 2-1 lead on a first-period power play, but the Wild’s power play couldn’t convert its final three. The momentum killer was the middle one. The Wild couldn’t get set up, the Kings killed it and took control, starting to pressure before eventually tying the score at 2-2 on Jeff Carter’s tally with 6:46 left.
After a bland overtime, Parise and Mikko Koivu couldn’t beat Quick, and Anze Kopitar and Carter sliced and diced Backstrom in the shootout.
Still, reason for optimism: “We played hard, we played physical, we carried the pace of play,” Cooke said.
Nino Niederreiter had a solid debut, taking three first-period shots and setting up Brodin’s goal after digging the puck from the wall. Brodziak, looking to have a bounce-back year, was strong on the penalty kill and constantly hounded the puck at even strength. The 22-goal scorer of two years ago created multiple scoring chances.
And, as Yeo said: “I liked the way we defended. We were frustrating, hard to play against. It was tough for them to get ice, to get to our zone. That allowed us to go back at them a lot.”
Yeo did feel that starting late in the second, the Wild — particularly the second line of Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Dany Heatley, who had a strong first period — stopped putting pucks to the net.
“That’s what a goalie like Quick can do to you,” Yeo said. “You start all of a sudden looking for the perfect play and forget how we scored.”
|Tennessee||12/18/14 7:25 PM|
|Philadelphia||12/20/14 3:30 PM|
|San Diego||12/20/14 7:25 PM|
|Minnesota||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Baltimore||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Detroit||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Cleveland||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Atlanta||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Green Bay||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|Kansas City||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|New England||12/21/14 12:00 PM|
|NY Giants||12/21/14 3:05 PM|
|Buffalo||12/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Indianapolis||12/21/14 3:25 PM|
|Seattle||12/21/14 7:30 PM|
|Denver||12/22/14 7:30 PM|
|Atlanta||108||4th Qtr 8:00|
|Phoenix||93||4th Qtr 8:51|
|Dallas||53||3rd Qtr 11:25|
|Orlando||63||3rd Qtr 7:17|
|Brooklyn||41||2nd Qtr 5:57|
|Memphis||14||1st Qtr 6:00|
|James Madison||67||2nd Half 1:45|
|SIU Edwardsville||60||2nd Half 1:00|
|North Florida||55||2nd Half 7:34|
|Catawba||69||2nd Half 0:20|
|Hampton||44||2nd Half 3:22|
|Gardner-Webb||65||2nd Half 1:07|
|Longwood||54||2nd Half 2:24|
|Tennessee||65||2nd Half 1:38|
|Manhattan||52||2nd Half 1:49|
|Kennesaw St||88||2nd Half 0:27|
|Barber-Scotia||52||2nd Half 0:17|
|Detroit||43||2nd Half 11:04|
|Liberty||37||2nd Half 11:04|
|TX A&M-CC||18||1st Half 0:13|
|Ark-Pine Bluff||27||2nd Half|
|UT Martin||18||2nd Half|
|Milligan||34||1st Half 3:00|
|Abilene Christian||29||2nd Half|
|USC Upstate||29||2nd Half|
|Alcorn State||24||2nd Half|
|Central Mich||36||2nd Half|
|Georgia State||27||2nd Half|
|TX-Pan American||26||1st Half 0:33|
|Texas State||30||2nd Half|
|Stephen F Austin||27|
|SC State||23||1st Half 0:04|
|Missouri State||28||2nd Half|
|Chicago State||33||2nd Half|
|Morehead State||20||1st Half 3:48|
|Northern Colorado||32||2nd Half|
|New Mexico St||8:00 PM|
|San Diego St||8:00 PM|
|Eastern Mich||8:00 PM|
|Loyola Marymount||8:00 PM|
|Incarnate Word||8:00 PM|
|Central Arkansas||9:00 PM|
|Grambling St||10:00 PM|
|Nevada||12/20/14 10:00 AM|
|Utah State||12/20/14 1:20 PM|
|(23) Utah||12/20/14 2:30 PM|
|Western Mich||12/20/14 4:45 PM|
|South Alabama||12/20/14 8:15 PM|
|BYU||12/22/14 1:00 PM|
|Marshall||12/23/14 5:00 PM|
|Navy||12/23/14 8:30 PM|
|San Diego St|
|Central Mich||12/24/14 11:00 AM|
|Fresno State||12/24/14 7:00 PM|
|(21) Miss State||66||FINAL|
|(1) South Carolina||69||FINAL|
|Fla Gulf Coast||91||FINAL|
|Northern Colorado||41||2nd Half 3:44|
|Youngstown St||61||1st OT|
|Northwestern||86||2nd Half 0:43|
|NC A&T||66||1st OT|
|NC Central||52||2nd Half|
|Alabama State||51||2nd Half 1:24|
|Morehead St||51||2nd Half 7:57|
|Prairie View||34||2nd Half 16:04|
|Sam Houston St||33|
|McNeese State||19||1st Half 0:05|
|Oakland||25||1st Half 0:50|
|Eastern Kentucky||41||2nd Half|
|SIU-Edwardsville||17||1st Half 0:31|
|North Texas||9:00 PM|