Outdoor hockey has long been acclimated to cold-weather climates in Eastern and Northern regions of the country, where ice can be naturally created and maintained.
Recently, however, the game has been introduced to the atmospheric conditions of California, where the Kings have played a pair of games in the last two years.
The Kings’ history of playing outdoors goes all the way back to September 27, 1991, when they played the NHL’s first-ever outdoor game – albeit an exhibition contest -- against the New York Rangers in Las Vegas right next to Caesar’s Palace.
Thirteen years later, the Kings played in the NHL’s first-ever outdoor regular season game played in California in January 2015 against the Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium.
Unfortunately, the outcome of that game wasn’t as magnificent as the setting and the nature of the event – the Kings failing to score a single goal in a 3-0 loss.
On February 21st of this past season, the Kings got another crack at the outdoor setting – playing the San Jose Sharks at the brand new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.
It didn’t take long for the Kings to score – something they failed to do the season prior at Dodger Stadium. Not even three minutes into the game, Kyle Clifford redirected a Jake Muzzin shot past Antti Niemi to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.
San Jose would tie the game on a Tommy Wingels goal late in the first period.
With the score tied 1-1 in the third period, Marian Gaborik hopped on the ice to complete a shift-change, stripped an unsuspecting Brent Burns of the puck in the neutral zone, then walked in alone on Antti Niemi, beating the Sharks’ goaltender with a slapshot low to the glove side.
Gaborik’s marker, the eventual game-winning goal, secured the Kings’ seventh-straight win, which pushed them past the Sharks in the Pacific Division and Western Conference standings.