PHILADELPHIA -- In his first game back in Philadelphia, Mike Richards
set up the winning goal 1:39 into overtime to give the Los Angeles Kings
a 3-2 win against the Flyers on Saturday night at Wells Fargo Center.
With the Kings skating on a power play thanks to a James van Riemsdyk
penalty with 19.9 seconds left in regulation, Richards held the puck at the top of the four-man power-play diamond. His slap pass hit Jack Johnson
on the blade of his stick, and the puck re-directed behind Flyers goalie Ilya Bryzgalov
for the winner.
"It took me a second to realize it was in," said Richards. "Just kind of a broken play. I was just looking for a lane to shoot the whole way. Not sure what (defenseman) it was and he was stepping up there and I wanted to try to shoot through him. I saw J.J. (Johnson) last minute and I just gave it to him."
Richards spent six seasons with the Flyers, serving as team captain for the last three. He received a mixed ovation when he was announced for the starting lineup, then a louder, far more positive ovation when the Flyers put his picture on the center-ice scoreboard to thank him for his time with the club, which included a pair of trips to the Eastern Conference Finals and the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.
Later, however, he was booed every time he touched the puck.
"I thought he handled things really well," said Kings coach Terry Murray. "I was really happy for Richards. I was real happy to see the Flyers fans receive him the way they did at the start of the game; that was class. And once the game starts there's a little bit of a change but that's OK -- that's hockey, that's sports. I thought he dealt with it very well. I know he was very anxious about this game. At the end of the day, how fitting is it that he makes the great play and the game-winning goal."
Richards said being back in the place he started his NHL career -- and the place he expected to finish it, especially after signing a 12-year contract in December 2007 -- didn't really affect him.
"It wasn't a big deal to me," said Richards. "I think from a media standpoint, you try to blow things up a little more than it is. For me, it's another game in a road arena. I've been booed everywhere, I've been cheered a couple places. You just go out there and play. Once the puck is dropped, I think it's the easiest thing to do -- just go out and play hockey."
However, his teammates were thinking of him.
"I know this is especially sweet for Mike," said Justin Williams
, another former Flyer. "We did everything we could to get him a win today."
Williams scored his first two goals of the season for the Kings, and goalie Jonathan Quick
had a fine game, stopping 32 of 34 shots. The Kings also blocked 22 shots.
and Matt Carle
scored for the Flyers, and goalie Ilya Bryzgalov
stopped 23 of 26 shots.
Los Angeles played all but the first 1:34 of the game without top defenseman Drew Doughty
, who suffered an upper-body injury. He was rocked by Flyers rookie forward Zac Rinaldo
just 24 seconds into the game, and played just one more shift later in the first period. The Kings say Doughty will miss 7 to 10 days, but that he does not have a head injury.
Doughty entered the game fourth in the League in average ice time per game at 27:33 in three games. In his absence, Johnson played a game-high 30:57, Willie Mitchell
played 27:15, and Rob Scuderi
played 22:39 while blocking a game-high five shots.
"They had a lot of pressure placed on them," Kings captain Dustin Brown
told NHL.com. "Philly has a good team over there, and we lose our top defenseman, who probably logs between 25 and 30 minutes every night, it's a tough thing to do to pick up those extra minutes when you're not used to it. Guys got to play 3-4 minutes more than their normal ice time. It's taxing on the body, especially against a team like Philly, they had a lot of (offensive) zone time. We stuck together and weathered it and found a way to win."
It also helped to have Quick in net. In four starts now against the Flyers, he's 3-1-0 and has allowed six goals on 126 shots.
"I thought he was really good tonight," said Flyers coach Peter Laviolette. "We don’t get the chance to see him too often, and tonight he was sharp. He's one of those athletic goalies that gets around pretty good, and I thought he did a great job."
Four of the five goals in the game were scored on the power play.
Briere scored a slam-dunk goal 2:30 into game off a cross-ice pass through the crease by Jaromir Jagr
, but the Kings answered late in the period on Williams' first goal of the season, a rocket from the right hash mark that hit the bottom of the crossbar over Bryzgalov's glove.
Williams scored the only even-strength goal of the game early in the third to put the Kings ahead 2-1, walking out of the right corner with the puck and scoring on his own rebound. Moments later, after a hooking penalty on Richards, Carle snapped a 57-game goal drought to tie things with 6:31 left.
Contact Adam Kimelman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK