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Kings get off to Quick start vs. Wild

The SportsXchange

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Every NHL team is looking for a quick start to the season. The Los Angeles Kings got that, in more ways than one.

Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter scored in a shootout, lifting the Kings to a 3-2 win at the Minnesota Wild in the season opener for both teams Thursday. But it was Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick making the real difference, as he stopped Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu in the shootout to go along with 27 saves in the prior 65 minutes for the win.

"He was huge," said Kopitar of his goaltender. "Over the course of the past three or four years we've gotten pretty familiar with his play. He's always been back there holding strong for us, and tonight was no different. He held us in there and we found a way to score a goal at the end of the game, and finished it off in the shootout."

The Kings, in their first real game since battling Chicago in the Western Conference finals last June, got a power play goal from Drew Doughty, a third period goal from Carter, and not much else until the shootout. A valiant performance from Quick was the difference, as the Wild controlled the offensive zone for much of the game, outshooting the Kings 13-3 in the middle period and 29-18 for the game.

Matt Cooke and Jonas Brodin scored in the first period for the Wild, who are now 11-0-2 all-time in home openers.

"Those guys use the energy of the crowd," said Doughty, of the sellout crowd. "The crowd here is always amazing and they came out hard. That's exactly what we wanted to do and we didn't do it."

Cooke, a somewhat controversial addition to the Minnesota lineup via free agency over the summer due to his suspension-filled past in Vancouver and Pittsburgh, endeared himself to Wild fans on his first shift. Linemate Kyle Brodziak fired a shot from the corner that glanced off Cooke's leg and past Quick. After a video review, the goal was allowed to stand.

"It would have (been) better if I scored with a couple of minutes left," said Cooke, who was encouraged despite ending up on the wrong side of the scoreboard. "I think that we went out, we played hard, we played physical, we carried the pace of play. And if we play like that most nights, we're going to win games."

Kings coach Darryl Sutter disagreed that the goal should've counted, but stopped himself before openly saying so.

"The first goal was...there's no sense talking about it," he said, offering his own assessment of the replay. "I reviewed it."

The Kings answered quickly, scoring on their first power play of the season when Doughty's blast from high in the left circle eluded Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom, who was screened on the play.

Brodin, who had just two goals last season in an otherwise impressive rookie campaign on the Wild blue line, got a power play goal of his own late in the first, crashing the net from the blue line and beating Quick.

That was all until the third, as Quick kept the Kings in the game long enough for Carter to knot the game late with a rebound shot at the top of the crease.

"That's what a goalie like Quick can do to you," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "You start all of a sudden looking for the perfect play, you forget about how to score and you got to make sure you stay on top of that. You can't let them take you away from your game."

Backstrom finished with 16 saves for the Wild, who open with four of their first five games at home and will host Anaheim on Saturday night. The Kings' season-opening road trip continues with a visit to Winnipeg on Friday.

NOTES: The Wild signed top-line RW Jason Pominville to a five-year extension Thursday, reportedly worth $28 million. Pominville, who came over from Buffalo in a trade last March, is now signed through the 2018-19 season. ... Thursday's season opener was the Kings' only trip to Minnesota this season. ... It didn't take long for new Wild D Keith Ballard to reintroduce himself to Minnesota fans. Kings C Colin Fraser and Ballard dropped their gloves halfway through the first period. Ballard, a star at the University of Minnesota on back-to-back NCAA title teams a decade ago, signed with the Wild during the summer. ... Former North Dakota standout Matt Frattin, who made his Kings debut Thursday, was the team's leading scorer in the preseason with a goal and five assists. RW Frattin came to Los Angeles in a June trade.
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