Throughout the next month, LAKI will be reviewing the top 10 moments of the Los Angeles Kings season as a recurring feature entitled “I Was There.”
KingsCast recently finished a similar endeavor, complete with screen grabs, video highlights and commentary. Alex Kinkopf’s #TopTen list is recommended as a great account of the 2012-13 season.
I Was There #8: Kopitar’s backhander past Howard leads to Kings win over Red Wings
On February 27, Anze Kopitar did this:
It was a game-winning goal that followed a Jeff Carter equalizer by four minutes and 46 seconds.
Chipping the puck loose to Dwight King, who protected it well along the boards, Kopitar slipped into open space behind a fallen Jonathan Ericsson, and with momentum carrying him towards Jimmy Howard, received a pinpoint pass from King in the lower interior of the right circle.
At that moment, Kopitar’s hands found a nice rhythm with his quick decision-making.
As he drifted towards the far post, he spun to face Howard and quickly changed possession from his backhand to his forehand before tucking the puck between Howard’s left pad and the right post.
“It was a little bit of a scrum on the half wall there,” Kopitar said at the time. “I just wanted to make sure I got loose just in case those guys got the puck. Coming our way, I wanted to make sure I was in a decent position to come back. Then, once I saw Kinger get the puck, I just kind of opened up. I knew I was by myself in front of the goalie, and I was able to put it in.”
It was the immediate development of something fantastic out of an ordinary offensive zone battle, a moment conjured by Kopitar’s reach, confidence and a finishing ability that wasn’t always present late in the season. Whereas many of the other entries in the top ten list came during critical points of the season, this play was the defining moment of the seventh home game. Other than the banner raising ceremony, this play pre-dates all other highlights on this list.
Aesthetic beauty: Very high, though Kopitar sets a high bar. It wasn’t quite at the same level of beauty as his shorthanded goal against St. Louis in the 2012 Western Conference Semifinals…
Lasting impact: … and it didn’t have the same high stakes as his overtime game-winner in New Jersey.
Still, it was a game-winner late in the third period of a tense game the Kings had trailed after 40 minutes and generated an Exasperated Jimmy Howard Slash. It doesn’t carry the same impact as several of the higher-ranked moments that will follow on this list, but is certainly a play that will be remembered in future seasons and was perhaps the prettiest goal scored during the 2012-13 regular season.