VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) - Justin Williams was one of the few Los Angeles Kings willing to admit how good it felt to beat the Vancouver Canucks - those same Canucks that knocked Los Angeles out of the playoffs last season.
The blood on captain Anze Kopitar's face spoke for itself.
Williams tied the game on a power play with 4:05 left, and Kopitar returned from a cut that required 18 stitches - 15 on the outside of the lip and three more inside his mouth - to score the winning shootout goal as the Kings spoiled the Canucks' season opener with a 2-1 win Saturday night.
``They booted us out of our ultimate dream last year and we kind of spoiled their opening night here tonight and we're happy for that,' Williams said of an evening that started with a lengthy pregame celebration of the Canucks' 40th anniversary.
Kopitar's opening night appeared to be spoiled when he ran into the end of Manny Malhotra's stick while trying to throw a check midway through the second period. He stayed down as blood pooled beneath him, and had to be helped off the ice and to the locker room. Kopitar returned to start the third period and beat Roberto Luongo with a backhand deke to open the shootout.
``Unless you are told not to come back, you don't think there is any doubt (you will return),' said Kopitar, a jagged scar running from the middle of his lip to the edge of his mouth. He also lost a tooth. ``But a fake one luckily.'
Jack Johnson also scored in the shootout, and Jonathan Quick did the splits to stop Mason Raymond's deke and got a pad on Ryan Kesler's shot to preserve the win.
``The boys came in here with a bit of a chip on their shoulder just because of (last season),' said Quick, who made 23 saves through overtime. ``But at the end of the day it's one game of 82 so take it for what it's worth.'
Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff scored Vancouver's only goal on a power play, and Luongo finished with 31 saves before being beaten on both shootout attempts.
``It's a little disappointing to lose our home opener, but it's a process,' Luongo said. ``We fought hard. Unfortunately it came down to a shootout.'
The Kings had a glorious chance to win it on another advantage late in overtime. They controlled play for the entire two minutes, but Luongo made sliding one-timer saves on Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jared Stoll to force the shootout.
``We could have ended it in overtime, but he made a handful of saves he probably shouldn't have,' Quick said.
Exactly 40 years after the Canucks played their first NHL game against the Kings the teams kicked off their seasons in vintage jerseys with no names on the back.
Vancouver killed off four straight power plays before Ehrhoff opened the scoring on a power play with 8 minutes left in the second period. The defenseman pinched in from the point to the top of the crease and took Daniel Sedin's centering pass off his skate before banging the loose puck past a prone Quick.
Los Angeles only had three shots in the first 14 minutes of the third period, but doubled that total on a late power play. Williams banged in the last one to tie it after Luongo couldn't control the rebound on a screened point shot.
``Put pucks to the net, and good things happen if you bang away,' Williams said.
NOTES: C Henrik Sedin was introduced as the Canucks' new captain during the pregame ceremony, replacing Luongo, who relinquished the job before training camp. ... Quick added a retro look to his goalie equipment, wearing all brown pads and gloves and a Rogie Vachon tribute mask. ... D Willie Mitchell played his first regular-season game for the Kings against the Canucks, the team with which he spent the previous four years. It was Mitchell's first regular game since a season-ending concussion on Jan. 16.
The Associated Press News Service
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