Kings 3, Ducks 1
Friday, 09.30.2011 / 9:32 PMANAHEIM -- Drew Doughty wasn’t on the ice Friday night, but perhaps his official return to the Kings’ roster inspired his defensive partner a bit.
Mitchell, the ultimate solid defensive defenseman, broke a third-period tie with a slap-shot goal with 5:43 remaining in the third period, and the Kings went on to a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks before an announce crowd of 16,927 at Honda Center.
On Friday morning, Doughty officially signed the eight-year, $56-million contract he agreed to Thursday night. When the regular season opens on Oct. 7, Doughty is expected to be back where he usually is, patrolling the blue line opposite the veteran Mitchell.
Against the Ducks, though, Mitchell got a chance to show off his offensive skills. Mitchell has a total of 24 goals in 643 regular-season NHL games. His rising shot beat goalie Dan Ellis to give the Kings a 2-1 lead, and Anze Kopitar added an empty-net goal in the final minute.
``A guy who only scores five (goals) a year, you don’t want to use them up in the preseason,’’ Mitchell joked. ``We were talking about that after. It’s like, `Hey, you only get five a year, you’re a defensive defenseman, you want to kind of save them for the season.’ But of course it feels nice to score a goal.’’
Mike RIchards gave the Kings a 1-0 lead, 1:08 into the second period, and the Ducks tied the game with Teemu Selanne’s second-period goal. Otherwise, they couldn’t get the puck past goalie Jonathan Bernier, who played the entire game and stopped 28 shots.
``Bernier was good, his stopping of the puck, obviously,’’ coach Terry Murray said. ``He saw the puck very well. He did a lot of good things when the puck was in front of him. Behind the net, we still need to continue to work at some of those hand-off plays, the communication.
``And that’s the responsibility of the D. Once your goalie goes back there, his eyes are to the boards, so there needs to be better work with the defensemen, just to give some verbal commands. I thought tonight we got ourselves into a little bit of trouble with turnovers because of it.’’
Dustin Penner, scheduled to play, was a late scratch from the Kings’ lineup, and his spot was taken by Dwight King, who assisted on a second-period goal.
The Kings, 3-1-2 this preseason, play the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night in Las Vegas, then fly to Europe to prepare for two season-opening games.
Both teams looked a bit ragged in a scoreless, penalty-free first period in which the Ducks outshot the Kings 11-7. Bernier looked sharp early with a handful of quality saves.
After generating almost no strong scoring chances in the first period, the Kings scored just 1:08 into the second period. Richards went toward the front of the net, took a shot pass from King and beat Hiller with a close-range wrist shot for his first goal of the preseason. Dustin Brown also got an assist.
The Ducks tied the game with 9:07 remaining in the second period, as the Kings allowed their first power-play goal of the preseason. Lubomir Visnovsky passed left to Selanne, who ripped a high, one-time slap shot past Bernier. Ryan Getzlaf also got an assist. The Kings had been 18-for-18 on the penalty kill in the preseason.
Mitchell gave the Kings a 2-1 lead with 5:43 remaining in the third period. Mitchell found open ice near the top of the left circle, took a pass from Kopitar and ripped a shot to the far corner of the net. Simon Gagne also got an assist.
``Great play by Kopitar,’’ Murray said. ``High cut across, come in, delay. And the one thing that Willie Mitchell can do is shoot the puck. When he has some time to get it away, he can beat a goaltender. He’s done it before and he did it again tonight.’’
Kopitar scored into an empty-net to cap the scoring, and Brown recorded his second assist.