ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP)—Jean-Sebastien Giguere slumped to the ice late in the game. He recovered in time to finish off a busy evening in goal for the Anaheim Ducks.
“I was just cramping up,” he explained Friday night after he stopped 41 shots, including 22 in the first period, in Anaheim’s 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.
The season opener for both teams was a hard-hitting, high-spirited affair.
“It’s always that way against L.A.,” Giguere said. “The fans get into it. There’s always a lot of banging and it makes it a fun game.”
The Ducks’ Ryan Getzlaf snapped a 2-2 tie when he scored with 13:15 remaining, and Kunitz added a goal 2:45 later. Lubomir Visnovsky pulled the Kings within one with his goal with 5:07 remaining, but that closed the scoring.
Anze Kopitar, a 19-year-old rookie from Sweden, scored Los Angeles’ first two goals, also in the second period.
Getzlaf beat Dan Cloutier high on the glove side from 25 feet to help spoil Marc Crawford’s debut as the Kings’ coach. Both Crawford and Cloutier, who faced 32 shots in his first game for Los Angeles, came from the Vancouver Canucks.
The Ducks, who dropped the “Mighty” from their name and switched their colors from purple and teal to black and orange for this season, won with a lineup strengthened by the addition of defenseman Chris Pronger. The former league MVP and Norris Trophy winner was acquired from Edmonton in a trade.
“It’s always good to get that first game under your belt, and it’s always good to win it,” said Pronger, who got off three shots in his 28 minutes, 52 seconds on the ice. “It wasn’t pretty, but we got great goaltending from Jiggy and overcame a few mistakes. It was good enough to win, and now we’ve got to build on that.”
After Kopitar scored twice in a 2:12-span of the second period to give Los Angeles a 2-1 lead, McDonald tied it at 13:27 of the period.
“They’re a Stanley Cup contender, and for us to play well like that against them is good for our team,” Cloutier said. “Our goal this year is to throw a lot of pucks at the net every game and shoot from everywhere.”
Kopitar, taken 11th overall by the Kings in the 2005 NHL entry draft, gave them a short-lived 2-1 lead when his backhander from the right circle caromed off Giguere’s upper body and into the net at 11:26. Cloutier started the play— and got an assist—with a clearing pass.
Kopitar’s initial NHL goal came when he sliced across the crease from right to left, held onto the puck long enough to shake Pronger, then flipped a shot back into the net.
Perry scored 4:49 into the second period, beating Cloutier at close range.
“We have to give this Ducks team a lot of credit. They’re one of the best teams in the league for a reason, but we came in here and hung with them for most of the game,” Cloutier said.
After not making the playoffs for the past three seasons, the Kings begin this one with a new general manager, Dean Lombardi; new coach, Crawford; and, among other players who joined them during the offseason, Cloutier, Rob Blake, Patrick O’Sullivan and Oleg Tverdovsky.
This was the first time the Kings and Ducks had met in a season opener since the NHL expanded to Anaheim in 1993-94. … The Ducks won the final four meetings with the Kings last season to take the series 5-1-2.