FINAL – Kings 3, Wild 4 (OT) – Kopitar, Athanasiou, McLellan

The LA Kings earned a point on Opening Night, but were unable to hold onto a two-goal lead in the third period, as they fell 4-3 in overtime against the Minnesota Wild.

The Kings got two points from Jeff Carter, who flashed well in his return to the ice following offseason surgery, as well as a pair of assists from Anze Kopitar. Forward Dustin Brown scored his 300th career NHL goal, a power-play tally late in the second period, as he became the sixth player in LA Kings history to reach the 300-goal plateau. Forward Andreas Athanasiou also scored, finishing off a Carter feed in the middle stanza, for his first career goal with the Kings.

On the flip side, the Kings couldn’t continue their momentum, from what was a really strong second period when they played at 5-on-5, to close out the game in the third. Minnesota got a pair of goals midway through the frame to tie the game and eventually capitalized on Brown’s neutral-zone turnover in overtime to win the game through impressive rookie forward Kirill Kaprizov.

Hear from Anze Kopitar, Andreas Athanasiou and Head Coach Todd McLellan below.

Anze Kopitar

Andreas Athanasiou

On his thoughts on his first game with the Kings
It’s definitely a good feeling, just to get back in the rhythm of things, but obviously it’s kind of a bittersweet night. Good to be back out there, unfortunate that we didn’t come out with the W, but we got one point. Take the positives and move forward.

On his second-period goal, and playing with speed with Jeff Carter
He’s been playing unbelievable, and even in practice you can see he’s got another gear, he’s really got a lot of speed. I had to get on my high horse there to keep up with him. He made a great play and I think it was really good for us tonight.

On Carter’s game, and what he saw from his line
He’s a beast. We all know his age, and he’s moving like it’s his first couple of years in the league. To be able to still move like that, it’s really exciting to see and he’s fun to play with. It’s something I think we’re just going to keep getting better at and get a good feel for each other with Lizzy out there, I think we have some good [chemistry] already. It’s just keep building, we have another game in a couple of nights, so just be ready for that.

On getting back into it, and how he’d evaluate tonight’s game
It’s Game 1, so obviously there’s going to be ups and downs, it’s something you have to build on. Obviously, I would’ve liked to get the W tonight, but you’ve just got to build. We’ve got a lot of hockey coming up this year. We got one-point tonight, you can’t dwell on the unfortunate events, it’s over and done with now, you just get ready for next game.

Todd McLellan

On his team scoring gritty goals tonight
They weren’t pretty goals, they were ugly, in the paint, battle-type goals and for us, we’re looking for more this year. We didn’t get enough [offense] last year, those are the type of goals we’re going to need. We’ll have to continue to improve in that area, and at the other end we’ve got to clean [up] some things so that we’re not giving up four. We don’t expect to score four every night, but we should be able to produce three on a steady basis, but not four. We were on the wrong end of that tonight.

On the penalty kill tonight
The penalty kill got a lot of work tonight. We did a really good job, starting with our goaltender. I’m disappointed that we had to do that much work, I thought we lost a lot of players in the second period that were important for us, because of lack of ice time, and I think that affected us in the third. Clean up the actual penalties, not necessarily the penalty killing, and it would certainly help us.

On Jeff Carter’s game tonight, and he and Athanasiou attacking with speed
Carts has been good all training camp. Finally healthy, I think the extended pandemic layoff certainly helped him with his surgery last year and recovery over the summer. He is still a very committed athlete, he worked very hard on his body and his conditioning. He’s always had the skill, the talent and the knowledge to put his game forward, but right now his body’s doing a lot for him. The speed factor of those two is really important. Combine that with the tenacity of Lizotte on the forecheck and keeping plays alive and we think that line can be effective in both ends of the rink.

On some of the younger players he thought stood out tonight
Well, Mikey Anderson and Royzie I thought were our most steady pair of defensemen. They made simple plays and defended well, so I think he had a real good night. Kale Clague…once he settled in, I thought he had a strong night. Matt Luff, who unfortunately was taken out of the game in the second period, minutes-wise, because of all the penalties, I thought he had a pretty good night. There were some good nights. Gabe Vilardi won his share of faceoffs in key situations and had the puck. Some of the kids had a factor in the game, in the outcome.

– Forward Dustin Brown became the sixth player in LA Kings history to score 300 goals with the franchise. Brown joins Luc Robitaille, Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor, Anze Kopitar and Bernie Nicholls at the 300-goal mark
– The Kings fell to 21-21-11 all-time in season openers, and 25-18-10 in home openers
– Tonight marked the first time in franchise history that the Kings have hosted the Minnesota Wild in their home opener. The Kings have played Minnesota once prior in a season-opener, in 2013, when they defeated the Wild 3-2 in a shootout at Xcel Energy Center
– Jeff Carter (1-1-2) collected his first multi-point game of the season and scored the first LA Kings goal of 2021
– Anze Kopitar (0-2-2) joined Carter with a multi-point effort. Kopitar led all Kings players last season with five points (2-3-5) against Minnesota in head-to-head matchups
– The Kings have now earned a point in 10 of the last 13 games against the Wild at STAPLES Center (8-3-2)
– The Kings set a new franchise low for attendance (0) at a home opener, 5,994 fans fewer than the previous record low, set in 1971.

Kings are back on the ice tomorrow morning for practice at Toyota Sports Performance Center, in advance of a rematch against Minnesota on Saturday at STAPLES Center.

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