The LA Kings earned their first victory of the preseason, skating to a 2-1 victory in the second game of the 2023 NHL Global Series: Melbourne.
For the second consecutive game, however, it was Arizona that opened the scoring, this time coming in the first period. Skating on the man advantage, forward Barrett Hayton worked his way out from behind the goal line, just outside of the crease, and beat Cam Talbot high on the glove side for the game’s first goal.
The Kings pushed back with a power-play goal of their own, however, as forward Adrian Kempe tied the score at one early in the third period. Skating 4-on-3, forward Kevin Fiala found Kempe in the right-hand circle and the Swede fired a one-timer past Arizona netminder Karol Vejmelka to tie the game. For Kempe, it was his second goal in as many games this weekend, while Fiala and defenseman Jordan Spence picked up assists in consecutive games as well.
Midway through the third period, defenseman Jacob Moverare put the Kings ahead with his first career NHL goal during preseason play. Stationed at the right point, Moverare one-timed a feed across the blue line from Vladislav Gavrikov, straight through traffic and past Vejmelka for a 2-1 advantage. Forward Carl Grundstrom also collected an assist on the play, in his preseason debut.
With the Arizona netminder pulled, Kempe added his second goal of the afternoon, as he buried into the empty net for distance. Kempe finished the weekend as the leading goalscorer in the Glboal Series with three goals from two games played. Arizona added a late one with 16 seconds to play, pushing the score to 3-2, as defenseman Travis Dermott opened his account for the preseason.
Hear from Kempe, Talbot and Head Coach Todd McLellan following today’s game.
On what he felt the Kings got out of this weekend from a hockey standpoint
It was a good experience for our team. I think everybody was pretty excited to be here, obviously to a completely new country to play, get some good team bonding together. I think it was a good, fun experience for everybody. Obviously we got some work in as well and now it’s back to LA, a couple of days off and then get back to work before before the season starts.
On the team’s reaction to Jacob Moverare getting his goal
Yeah, for sure. I think ever since he came into the team, he’s such a nice, calm guy. I think everybody’s really pumped for him. He had some chances in the past as well and we’re really happy for him and I think he was as well.
On his play tonight and how he felt during his preseason debut
I felt pretty good from the get go there. We put in some work throughout the week and then yesterday, I got a good skate in since I wasn’t dressing, so just trying to start on the right foot here. I felt pretty good for my 40 minutes tonight and I’m going to try and build off that going forward.
On if it was like riding a bike playing behind Todd McLellan’s system again, or if there was a re-learning curve
A little bit of both. I think once I got comfortable out there, it was kind of like riding a bike, not too much has changed. The guys in front of me, they did a great job of executing in front of me tonight, made it a lot easier to read that game. I tried to control whatever I could and if I left something out there, they did a heck of a job clearing it for me. Great job by the guys in front of me tonight.
On his takeaways from this week from a hockey-specific standpoint
Well, from training camp, we know we would be probably further into camp as far as structure and work and everything goes if we were at home. We wouldn’t have had a mandatory day off, we wouldn’t have lost some practice time due to the ice, but that’s okay because with this trip comes other benefits, bonding and all that type of stuff. Now, when we get on the plane tomorrow, we have a sports science department, we have very qualified people that are going to offer the help to us to get us back on our feet real quick and it’s up to each individual to use it or to do whatever they think is appropriate to get up and running real quick. We’re counting on that, we can’t have people to fall behind and wait for them.
On what he saw today from the seven players who checked into the lineup for their preseason debuts
On the walk over, we were talking about the youth that is going into the lineup now and some of the older players that are coming out. By no means do we want to fast forward the clock four, five, six years from now but some of those players likely won’t be in the lineup and some of these players will have to be in the lineup, picking up more of the slack. We saw that today. We thought we would have a hungry group. We didn’t know how individuals would react to play but they answered the bell, they played pretty darn hard. I thouguht we had outstanding goaltending tonight, which helped, but overall a good experience today and yesterday.
On cleaning things up and adjusting from mistakes made in yesterday’s game
We actually gave up more today than we did last night. We give up more chances, our goaltender had to be more active, we gave up a lot less, but got scored on five times, four times, the empty netter doesn’t really count, but we kind of shot ourselves in the foot in key situations. It’s difficult when you make seven lineup changes, to hold everybody accountable, and expect others to be covered. The group that played tonight did a good job.
On seeing Jordan Spence balance the weight of playing in Australia versus his play on the ice
Jordan, I think he’s had so much on his mind as far as trying to make the team, and I’m trying to crawl inside his brain a little bit right now. He’s a young, hungry player that really wants to play in the National Hockey League and he’s really close. If he keeps playing like that, he’s going to force his way onto the team and that’s a great thing for him. With all of that, he had to balance a lot of other things coming back. Now, from what I understand, he didn’t live here very long, but he is from here and with that you take on a little more responsibilities. I saw him hosting a group the other day outside of the arena and obviously the attention that he received because of his good play was well deserved. Had we not made that last save, if Rittich hadn’t made that last save in the shootout, he would have been the next guy to shoot, that would have been a good story. If the coach was smart, he probably would have used him earlier, but the coach isn’t very smart. That’s been his experience, but he would answer that question a lot better than I would.
On seeing the excitement of the group after Jacob Moverare got on the scoresheet
Yeah, that’s Tuna, his nickname is Tuna and as soon as he got that [goal], everybody’s happy for him. He’s a very likable guy, he plays hard for his teammates and his teammates love what he does. So ,when he gets rewarded like that, there is some joy in it for everyone.
Looking ahead, the Kings, the will play their third game of the weekend in the preseason, coming in Anaheim against the Ducks. The group in Australia obviously will not be playing in that game, so expect to see a group of prospects and veterans who did not make the trip abroad. Full coverage of that game to come in the morning!