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Kings open preseason with comeback win

by Rick Sadowski / NHL.com
DENVER – Justin Williams figures he's paid more than his fair share of dues and deserves some good fortune from the hockey gods for a change.

A former two-time 30-goal scorer with the Carolina Hurricanes, the 29-year-old right wing has been plagued by injuries the past three seasons, averaging just 43 games in that time.

If Williams can remain healthy, he could play a valuable role for the Los Angeles Kings, who opened their preseason schedule Wednesday night with a 4-2 come-from-behind win against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center.

"This is big for us," said Williams, who set up Brad Richardson with the go-ahead goal at 4:32 of the third period and scored on a 2-on-1 down low at 7:29 to give the Kings a two-goal cushion. "We didn't dress a lot of veterans and I thought we came prepared. Winning against Colorado with a lot of veterans in the lineup bodes well for us."

Williams was credited with the insurance goal as he was driving to the net. Andrew Campbell's shot hit him and caromed into the net off Avalanche defenseman Kyle Quincey while each team was shy a skater.

Maybe his fortunes are improving already.

"I've chalked up the injuries to bad luck," said Williams, who broke his leg last season when he had 10 goals and 19 assists in 49 games. "I feel I'm stronger, I'm faster and I'm prepared as I could be not to have any more accidents this year. It's an important year for me in my hockey career. I plan on staying healthy and contributing to this team as much as I can.

"(Thirty goals) shouldn't be out of my reach now. I know I've got the talent. I'm very confident in my abilities and hopefully it'll be a good year for me."
Down 2-0 in the second period, the Kings tied the game on a power-play goal by Michal Handzus at 7:32 and a goal by John Zeiler at 12:25.

"We started a little slow, but we got a timely power-play goal and we got stronger as the game went on," Williams said. "Usually that doesn't happen in Colorado with the (altitude)."

Williams logged 20:25 of ice time while skating on a line with Scott Parse and Jarret Stoll, who had two assists.

Handzus scored against Avalanche starting goalie Craig Anderson, who faced 18 shots before giving way to John Grahame at the 11:27 mark.

Zeiler was in front when he knocked the puck by Grahame, who is the son of former NHL goalie Ron Grahame and current Avalanche executive Charlotte Grahame.
The Avalanche took a 2-0 lead on a goal by Philippe Dupuis during a four-on-four skating situation at 2:28 of the first period and one by Quincey at 5:06 of the second. Quincey, who assisted on Dupuis' goal, beat screened Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier (21 saves) with a shot from the left point.

The Kings went on six consecutive power plays, including a two-man advantage that lasted 41 seconds in the first period, but they couldn't capitalize.

Avalanche captain Adam Foote was assessed three first-period penalties, which included a double minor at 18:06 for elbowing and roughing Zeiler.

There is some history involving the two players.

 Zeiler, who spent all last season with Manchester in the AHL, was given a three-game suspension for boarding Foote in a Nov. 22, 2008 game. Zeiler expressed remorse at the time for the hit, which caused Foote to miss nine games with neck and knee injuries.

"There's obviously some history there," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said. "When you're a competitive guy like Footie, sometimes things happen like that. The time to do it, I guess, would be in the preseason. He wouldn't do that in the regular season."

The Avalanche killed off a two-minute, two-man disadvantage late in the second period with Paul Stastny (tripping) and Chris Stewart (roughing) sitting side-by-side in the penalty box.

Colorado was penalized 14 times totaling 34 minutes and wound up killing off nine of 10 Kings power plays.

"It certainly hurt the flow of the game," Sacco said. "We really couldn't find a groove, especially in the first period. A lot of guys sat on the bench for a long time. It just kind of hurts the flow and the consistency in the game and getting your lines out there.

"The penalty killing was good. That was one of the good things about taking all those penalties. We had an opportunity to work on our penalty kill and I really liked what the guys did, especially on the forecheck, up ice and heading through the neutral zone. We made it difficult for them to come in clean into our zone."






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