On Oct. 9, 1970, the Vancouver Canucks began life in the NHL by losing 3-1 at home to the Los Angeles Kings. Forty years later, wearing the same vintage uniforms, the teams met again -- at least this time, the Canucks went home with a point.
L.A.'s Justin Williams tied the game with 4:05 remaining in regulation, and shootout goals by Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson gave the Kings a 2-1 victory on Saturday night, spoiling the festive anniversary atmosphere at the newly renamed Rogers Arena.
Kopitar deked and beat goaltender Roberto Luongo with a backhander; Johnson scored with a shot to the stick side. Jonathan Quick, who made 23 saves through 65 minutes, got Mason Raymond to miss and stopped Ryan Kesler's shot.
"It was a hard-fought game both sides, it came down to a shootout," said Luongo, who finished with 31 saves. "When we get into those types of situations, it can go either way and unfortunately for us tonight, it didn't go our way."
It was the Kings' first game since the Canucks eliminated them from the playoffs last spring. Don't think they didn't enjoy exacting a little revenge.
"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.
Added Quick: "The boys came in here with a bit of a chip on their shoulder just because of (last season). But at the end of the day it's one game of 82 so take it for what it's worth."
The uniforms were a blast from the past: The Kings, the youngest club in the League with an average age of 25.4, wore their old-time purple and gold while the Canucks' sported the "stick-in-the-rink" stylized C on the front of their white jerseys. In another retro touch, neither team had names on its jerseys.
Most members of the 1970-71 Canucks team were introduced in pre-game ceremonies that included the naming of Henrik Sedin as the club's 13th captain. But just as was the case 40 years ago, the Canucks couldn't put enough pucks in the net.
Christian Ehrhoff did put the Canucks ahead at 11:58 of the second period, shoveling home a power-play rebound in the crease after taking Daniel Sedin's pass with his skate.
That goal looked like it might stand up as the winner when the Canucks limited Los Angeles to just three shots through the first 14 minutes of the third period. But the Kings matched that total on a late power play, and Williams banged the third one past Luongo to tie the score.
"Put pucks to the net, and good things happen if you bang away," Williams said.
The Kings had a great chance to win the game in overtime, but Luongo made six saves as the Canucks had to kill off a 4-on-3 advantage in the extra period.
"Lu was great behind us and obviously kicking rebounds out, anytime you can deflect them out into the corners, it's big for us," defenseman Keith Ballard said. "The three of us just kind of made our little triangle tighter as it went on and tried to keep the shots outside so Lu could see the puck."
Kopitar, who had a 34 goals and 81 points last season, missed part of the second period when he was caught by Manny Malhotra's 's stick while trying to check the Canucks center in the corner.
"Unless you are told not to come back, you don't think there is any doubt (you will return)," said Kopitar, who had a jagged scar running from the middle of his lip to the edge of his mouth. He also lost a tooth. "But a fake one luckily."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report