Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 10/7/11

The Los Angeles Kings start the 2011-2012 season on the right foot by defeating the New York Rangers in overtime.

With less than a minute left in overtime Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jack Johnson scored on a power play to lead the Kings past the New York Rangers by a score of 3-2. Johnson tallied the game winner after receiving a swift pass from the Kings newly acquired center Mike Richards.

The Kings started their 2011-2012 season overseas by facing the Rangers in Stockholm, Sweden on Friday. While the team wore their home jerseys, they were far from being the home team. The sold-out arena fully supported the Rangers mainly to support goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, a living legend in Sweden. While it may have been a home crowd for Lundqvist, he had to share the spotlight with a King.

Kings center Anze Kopitar put his team on the board first halfway through the first period and silenced any doubts about overcoming last season’s ankle injury. While in the Rangers’ zone, right-winger Justin Williams capitalized on a turnover and fed the puck to Kopitar, who rifled it past Lundqvist. Kopitar would continue on to play a solid two-way game with multiple chances and eventually snagging an assist in Johnson’s overtime goal. It appears the “Slovenian Superstar” is picking up right where he left off last season before his injury.

While the Kings dominated most of the first period, setting quite an impressive tempo for them compared to last season, the Rangers regrouped and tied the game five minutes after Kopitar scored. Rangers’ captain Ryan Callahan was able to cash in on a bad-angle shot, beating Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick who wasn’t square with his post.

Photo Via JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP/Getty Images

The second and third periods saw a much different game however as both coaches began the chess match of line-swapping. Both teams took to their strong defensive games until halfway through the third period, Marian Gaborik put the Rangers up 2-1 with a shot from just outside the crease. Richards would tie the game for the Kings with under five minutes left in regulation with a center-line drive that has only further excited Kings fans to see how he’ll fit in this season. He would earn his first goal and assist as a King in his first game as a King.

Johnson would earn the game-winning goal in overtime while on the power play. Rangers’ defenseman Ryan McDonagh opened the door for the Kings at a critical moment when he was called for holding. While the game winner was scored on the power play, the Kings still need to tweak their power play system. Going 1 for 4 on the power play seems to show signs of last season’s issue of having trouble with special teams scoring.

The Kings traveled to Berlin, Germany directly after the game in order for Saturday’s game. Awaiting the Kings in Berlin are Ryan Miller and the Buffalo Sabres.

Chris Van Deusen
NHLHS Los Angeles Kings Correspondent
Twitter – @TheCrazyWhls


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