Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Writer
LONDON -- The Anaheim Ducks turned the tables on the Los Angeles Kings Sunday, winning the second game of the NHL’s Premiere Series to deliver a split of this historic pair of games that opened the 2007-08 NHL season.
Corey Perry had two goals and an assist, Andy McDonald had a pair of primary assists and rookie goalie Jonas Hiller, in his NHL debut, stopped 22 shots as the Ducks took a 4-1 victory, just 24 hours after the Kings had won the first game by the identical score.
The weekend derby between Southern California rivals provided a little something for every fan that flocked to the 02 Arena -- filling the building to capacity each night -- to watch history happen and celebrate the sport in what turned out to be a carnival-like atmosphere.
“It seemed like we had our share of fans and they had their share of fans, so it was an enjoyable thing in that there seemed to be a lot of excitement,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “It was atypical of a NHL crowd in that way.”
The appreciative crowds saw brilliant goals, with Mike Cammalleri and Perry leading the charge for their respective teams. Cammalleri had two goals Saturday and then added a pin-point shot for a tally in Sunday’s second period that dashed Hiller’s hopes of earning the first-ever NHL shutout recorded on European soil.
The fans witnessed stellar goaltending in both games. On Saturday, 19-year-old Jonathan Bernier showed that he could be ready to become the Kings’ next franchise goalie. He looked mature beyond his years in engineering a 4-1 victory. Twenty-four hours later, it was the rookie Hiller who seized the spotlight.
Hiller, just the fourth Swiss goalie to play in the NHL, held the Kings at bay. Along the way, he showed that the Ducks will be just fine until starting goalie J.S. Giguere can return from his groin injury.
Hiller said that his experience in big games with the Swiss national team prepared him for Sunday’s strong showing.
“It’s not the first big game I played,” Hiller said. “I have played World Championships, Spengler Cup, Swiss (league) championships. I’ve had those experiences and I am 25-years-old, so it doesn’t make me nervous any more. It’s not like I sleep bad or anything like that. I was happy and I enjoyed it.”
Hiller obviously enjoyed it more because the Ducks won Sunday and are not returning to the United States with a 0-2 record and three more away games facing them. This week, the Ducks serve as the home-opening opponent against Detroit, Pittsburgh and Columbus before finally returning to Orange County.
“I’m happy for the whole team, we had to prove that we were better after (Saturday) and we did that,” Hiller said. “I’m happy that I could play because it is a dream I have had since I was a small kid to play in the NHL. It was a lot of fun.”
The 02 Arena crowds also saw some of the patented physical play that makes the NHL brand distinct from any other hockey league out there. The Ducks turned up their hitting in Sunday’s game, playing more of the gritty, sand-paper style that is demanded by Carlyle.
“It was an entertaining game from the fans’ standpoint,” Carlyle said. “I thought they got to see a little bit of everything from the two games.”
The experience was also entertaining for the players. Anaheim’s Perry obviously enjoyed Sunday’s game more. Not only did he score two goals, but his team got the win it was seeking. But he says that the whole London experience was amazing.
“It was fun,” Perry said. “It was nice to get over here and see the different lifestyles and the different things you might not see in your lifetime. Playing hockey overseas is always fun. You get to come over and play in a different venue in a different city in front of different fans. We’ll take this week and remember it for the life.”
As will the London fans.
In fact, the weekend of hockey memories will certainly be the lasting legacy of the NHL Premiere Series.
That simple fact left both the Ducks and Kings with smiles on their faces as they prepared for the long journey to the next stops on their NHL agendas.
“I think this was a really good weekend series,” Kings coach Marc Crawford said. “Obviously, we’re not pleased with our result from tonight. But I think if you take the big-picture view of it, (the fans) had two entertaining games, two games with sellout crowds here and a wonderful venue. They saw some inspired hockey from both teams.
“I thought the fans were treated to really good hockey. I thought they responded real well. The atmosphere and the sweaters and the constant cheering was good for both teams. I think everybody definitely took notice of this (event) at some point over the weekend.”