The Anaheim Ducks set an NHL record when they opened last season by not losing in regulation in 16 straight games. The Los Angeles Kings made sure the defending Stanley Cup champions wouldn't get off to another quick start.
The Kings look for a two-game sweep of the Ducks when the 2007-08 Premiere series wraps up on Sunday at London's O2 Arena.
Los Angeles (1-0-0) got 26 saves from rookie Johnathan Bernier and two goals from Michael Cammalleri en route to a 4-1 win on Saturday. Rob Blake and Michal Handzus added short-handed goals for Los Angeles, which won its fourth in a row over their Pacific Division rivals.
"It felt like a North American hockey crowd," Cammalleri said. "There wasn't much difference - a couple of waves, like soccer, which was fun to watch."
The star of the game, though, was the 19-year-old Bernier - the 11th overall in the 2006 NHL Draft who became the youngest opening-day goaltender in Kings history. He showed poise by not getting rattled, even after a 16-minute delay at the start of the game due to a lighting malfunction in the arena.
"It's always good to get the start of the season, especially at my age," Bernier said. "I'm pretty happy with what I did tonight."
Coach Marc Crawford, who used five different goaltenders last season, including veterans Mathieu Garon, Sean Burke and Dan Cloutier, also was happy with what he saw from the Quebec-born Bernier.
"I don't think you could've expected a better game from a 19-year-old goaltender," 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."
But Crawford said he was leaning toward using Jason LaBarbera in net for this contest. LaBarbera hasn't played in an NHL game since the 2005-06 season, when he went 11-9-2 with a 2.89 goals-against average in 21 starts and 29 games.
He spent all of last season with Manchester of the American Hockey League, posting a league-leading 39 wins and tying for the league lead with seven shutouts.
"With the youth of our team, and the back-to-back settings, we're going to want to make sure we keep as fresh a lineup as we possibly can and try to get everybody to contribute," Crawford said.
The Kings will try to open a season with consecutive wins for the first time since 2002-03, when they began 3-0.
Bobby Ryan, selected second overall in the 2005 draft behind Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, spoiled Bernier's shutout bid by scoring a power-play goal for Anaheim (0-1-0) with just under seven minutes to play.
The Ducks got 17 saves from Ilya Bryzgalov, who started in place of the injured Jean-Sebastien Giguere (sports hernia surgery). Sami Pahlsson (sports hernia) and Mathieu Schneider (broken ankle) also didn't play for the Ducks, who will try to avoid losing two straight at the start of a season for the first time since going 0-4-1 in 2003-04.
"It's the first game of the year," Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf told the Ducks' official Web site, "and we're going to take out positives and go into the next game."
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