Johnson nets overtime winner to boost Kings
Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer | Wednesday, 08.06.2014 / 4:50 AM
The New York Rangers fell victim to that inevitable equation at the worst time Friday night.
Jack Johnson made Los Angeles' power play matter by scoring a 4-on-3 goal with 52 seconds left in overtime to give the Kings a 3-2 victory at Ericsson Globe Arena in the first of two 2011 Compuware NHL Premiere games that will be played here.
The Kings fly to Berlin to face the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday while the Rangers stay here to face the Anaheim Ducks. Buffalo beat the Ducks, 4-1, in Helsinki on Friday night.
"A 4-on-3 is the biggest prime opportunity in hockey," said Johnson, who rifled his winning shot past Henrik Lundqvist from the left side. "We had drawn up something and were waiting for opportunity to drive through."
The Rangers also gave the Kings a power play with 2:03 left in regulation, but their PK was good enough to force overtime.
It couldn't push the game to a shootout.
"It smacked us right in the face," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "I think we should feel good about our second and third periods, we played the way we needed to play. But to take a stupid one at the end of the third, kill that off, and then take another stupid one in overtime -- you're not going to win.
"Hopefully we got a quick lesson here as far as our discipline is concerned."
Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh gave the Kings their winning chance. He was called for tripping Willie Mitchell with 2:09 left in OT.
McDonagh was beating himself up about his mistake, one Tortorella called "needless."
"I was reaching through him trying to get the puck and I don't know why I put my hand out there and kind of pulled on him for no reason, I wasn't going for the puck," he told NHL.com. "It's a hold for sure, so he's got to make that call."
The ref called tripping because after McDonagh grabbed a hold of Mitchell his skates got under him, sending the Kings' defenseman toppling to the ice with the referee standing no more than five feet away.
The Kings called a timeout to set up their power play, and what coach Terry Murray drew up worked.
Johnson, who was at the right point, passed the puck to Anze Kopitar in the circle and quickly dashed diagonally through the zone to the left circle. Kopitar found Mike Richards alone in the slot, but his attempt was stuffed by Lundqvist.
The puck popped out to the left of the net and Johnson was in perfect position to fire in the rebound.
Los Angeles was 0-for-4 on the power play in regulation.
"We know we have the personnel to (score on the power play), it's just a matter of doing it," Kopitar said. "They have some good penalty killers and for sure a top-five goalie in the League, so you can't get frustrated. We stuck with it and it came through for us."
The Rangers had the game in their hands after Marian Gaborik gave them a 2-1 lead with 9:32 remaining in regulation, finishing off a play that showed he and his linemates were starting to gel.
Brandon Dubinsky shoveled the puck to Gaborik for the goal, and Brad Richards picked up his first point as a Ranger with the secondary assist.
The lead didn't last long. Mike Richards tied it with his first goal as a King less than five minutes later, finishing off a strong individual effort by Brad Richardson with a tip-in off a centering feed.
"It was nice to finally get started," said Richards, who was traded to L.A. from Philadelphia in June. "For me, there was a lot of anticipation to get this started."
The Kings and Rangers were locked at 1-1 tie after 40 minutes despite Los Angeles holding a 19-12 edge in shots on goal.
The Kings owned significant territorial advantage and a 1-0 lead on Kopitar's goal off a turnover by Ryan Callahan at 10:51 of the first period. The Rangers captain made amends for his mistake by scoring a little over six minutes later.
"I wanted to get one back," Callahan said, "and I'm glad I got it back sooner than later."
New York followed Callahan's lead and was much better in the second and third periods. The Rangers were able to force their offense and keep the Kings on their heels in the defensive zone for long stretches.
Gaborik, Richards and Dubinsky started to get comfortable and the second line of Callahan with Artem Anisimov and Ruslan Fedotenko definitely had its chances as well. The young blue line, including Swedish rookie Tim Erixon, held its own and Lundqvist made several nice saves to keep the team in it.
But for all the good the Rangers established, their lack of discipline did them in.
Once you give Kopitar, Richards, Johnson and Drew Doughty the chance to work some magic with a man-advantage in overtime, odds are the game is going to end quickly.
"We got away with one at the end of the third, and we just don't get away with it twice," Tortorella said. "We beat ourselves."
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