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Kings pull out victory against Bruins with improbable buzzer-beater

Toffoli scores after Kopitar wins face-off with 0.9 seconds left in overtime

by Amalie Benjamin @AmalieBenjamin / NHL.com Staff Writer

BOSTON -- This was the plan: Anze Kopitar would win the face-off to Tyler Toffoli, who would shoot it past goalie Tuukka Rask to give the Los Angeles Kings the win against the Boston Bruins. That was how it was supposed to work in theory. But theory hardly matters when there are 0.9 seconds remaining in overtime in an opponent's building.

Reality meant a shootout. It meant that the horn would sound, overtime would end, and the two teams would alternate shots to end the game. It meant no last-second drama, no brilliance or surprises.

But, for once, reality didn't intervene. The plan worked. The puck went in. The Kings won 2-1 at TD Garden on Saturday.

 

[RELATED: If you blinked, you missed Toffoli's amazing game-winning goal | LAK-BOS game recap]

 

"I don't think that's going to happen anytime soon again," Kopitar said. "I've never seen it in my hockey career to work like that, or that fast. We'll certainly take it."

Because 0.9 seconds remaining in a game barely gives a team a chance to blink, let alone win a faceoff, shoot a puck, and have it beat a goaltender. And yet, the puck was dropped, the faceoff won, the puck shot, the goaltender beaten.

"Not in overtime," Kings coach John Stevens said when asked if he had seen a goal like that before. "I've seen games ended at the buzzer in regulation, but it was awesome. It was unbelievable. I thought it was a really good game, an exciting game. To win a game like that on the road -- it was back-and-forth -- it was pretty exciting for the guys.

"But no, I've never seen that, not in a regular-season game at 0.9 seconds on the clock. That's pretty unusual."

Video: LAK@BOS: Toffoli wins it with less than a second left

It all started with an icing, with the clock winding down. The Kings took a timeout, an attempt to get the barest of rests for Kopitar, clearly exhausted after 25:06 of ice time, and pulled goaltender Jonathan Quick for the extra attacker.

The resulting faceoff matched up Kopitar, one of the best centers in the game, against right wing David Pastrnak for the Bruins, who were left without a true center on the ice. It hardly felt like a fair fight.

Kopitar won it right to Toffoli, who was poised for a one-timer from the high slot that hit the back of the net for his second goal of the game.

"We felt with 0.9 if you win the draw clean, you have an opportunity," Stevens said. "So we put two righties in behind Kopi, so wherever the puck sprayed, Drew [Doughty] and Ty would have a chance to get a shot off, and it couldn't have landed better in between Tyler's feet there with Tanner [Pearson] inside just looking to box out to go to the net, so it was a perfect execution by the guys on the ice."

So, yes, exactly how they drew it up.

"It was just the perfect play for them," Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said.

And one that left the Kings slightly stunned after it was over, after they had checked on the feed to make sure it would be good, after it was confirmed that it would count, after they were back in their dressing room readying to fly out for the last of a six-game road trip, against the St. Louis Blues in a clash of two of the best teams in the NHL on Monday (8 p.m. ET; FS-MW, FS-W, NHL.TV).

"I've never seen anything like that," Toffoli said. "First time I've done that."

It made sense, in a way. Most things have gone right this season for the Kings, who matched the best start in their history with a win that pushed them to 9-1-1. Los Angeles leads the NHL with 19 points in 11 games.

"You can say it's luck. You can say it's good bounces. But at the same time, we're working hard, we're working for those bounces," Kopitar said. "To see it pay off in the way it did tonight, I mean, we'll take it. I don't think it's going to happen [again] anytime soon."

Still, no one is getting carried away. It was one game, one goal, one second remaining. It is the first month of the season. There is a long way to go before the Stanley Cup Final.

"It's a huge win, right?" Stevens said. "We didn't win a playoff series or anything, but it's a big win. This group I thought battled hard. We told them sometimes it might take to the last minute of a hockey game. We didn't think it would be literally the last second."

Video: Toffoli nets two as Kings top Bruins in OT, 2-1

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