Saturday, September 29, 2007

Kings Beat Ducks in '07-08 Season Opener

It was a historic day in the world of hockey today. Not only was the 2007-08 NHL season getting underway, but the 1st ever NHL game was being played in London, England, and 2 future stars took to the ice for the 1st time in their NHL careers.

It was packed at the O2 Arena in London with fans from all over the world in attendance. After a short delay due to the lighting, the game got underway. Mike Cammaleri got the 1st goal of the new season early in the period to give the Kings the surprising lead. It was then a full period and 2 minutes until the next goal was scored, and that was in part due to the Kings goaltender, Johnathon Bernier. Bernier played 2 games for Canada in the Super Series and looked superb, and he looked the same facing the games best. He saved shot after shot as the Ducks tried to tie the game up, but Bernier didn't flinch.

Then, in the middle of the 2nd period, the Kings were on a powerplay. Anze Kopitar fired a shot that didn't get through all the way. The puck laid in the crease and to the back of the unsuspecting Ilya Bryzgalov when Rob Blake tapped it in to give the Kings a 2-0 lead. Los Angeles didn't wait long to get goal number 3, as Cammaleri scored his 2nd goal of the game early in the 3rd to give the Kings a 3-0 lead. From then on, Bernier took over... again. He was a brick wall and seemed to have no jitters as he neared closer and closer to his 1st NHL win. His day would of been perfect if it hadn't been for another rising star.

While on the powerplay, Chris Pronger fired a shot from the blueline that was saved by Bernier. But a huge rebound came to the 2nd overall pick in 2005, Bobby Ryan. Ryan showed no hesitation, as he went quickly to his backhand and potted the puck in. But that goal was all for none, as Micheal Handzus scored a empty-net goal shortly after to clinch the game for the Kings. The final score was 4-1.

All the talk after the game was the stellar performance from 19 year-old Johnathon Bernier. "I don't think you could've expected a better game from a 19-year-old goaltender," Kings coach Marc Crawford said. "There was a lot of pressure tonight, and he looked like a really solid, solid goaltender. Not very many pucks bounced off of him, and he made a couple of great saves."

''It's pretty amazing,'' said Blake. ''At 19 years old, the way he plays is very calm. He just stands in there, he doesn't move too much, he seems to swallow those pucks. They got that goal and started coming at us pretty good and he smothered two or three pucks and you could see our bench calm down.''

They other key to the game was Anaheim's lack of discipline. 3 of the Kings 4 goals were scored on the powerplay, and the 4th goal as you might remember was just a empty-netter. ''Our inability to stay out of the box obviously killed us today,'' said Ducks captain Chris Pronger. ''You're going to lose a fair amount of games if you take that amount of penalties.''

The 2 clubs meet tomorrow at the O2 Arena for what promises to be a good re-match.

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