LONDON, England - The long-awaited start to the regular season had to wait a little bit longer than expected in the official opener between the Ducks and Kings at O2 Arena in London. The puck drop was held back because of a lighting issue following the American and English national anthems, as both teams got sent back to their dressing rooms during a 16-minute delay.
One of the few Ducks highlights of the night was Bobby Ryan's first NHL goal of his career.
When the game finally got underway, the Ducks didn’t look quite ready to start either.
The defending champs were often-penalized and outplayed by the significantly improved Kings in falling 4-1 in the first game of NHL Premiere, in front of 17,500 fans in the inaugural hockey game at O2 Arena.
The Ducks looked exactly like a team with a short offseason, two stars contemplating retirement and three other key players (goalie J.S. Giguere, forward Samuel Pahlsson and new defenseman Mathieu Schneider out with injuries.
Kings 19-year-old rookie looked solid in net with 26 saves as he so far looked to be the cure for the Kings’ goaltending problems of the last two seasons.
"He played well," said Ryan Getzlaf, who had a team-leading four shots on the night. "Their goalie played well and their team played well. We've got to do a better job of getting in front of him so he can't see those pucks that are hitting him in the chest."
The Ducks also suffered from a rash of penalties. going to the box nine times and giving up three power play goals.
"Their power play was working and we were in the box all night," said Chris Pronger. "That's kind of been our schtick the last little while. We need to stay out of the box a lot more to be successful. That was the tale of the game, their power play and our inability to stop them."
Michael Cammalleri, who had five goals in eight games against the Ducks last season, added two more on this night. His first came 8:35 into the first period, with the oft-penalized Ducks down two men after Shane Hnidy and Rob Niedermayer went to the box within 44 seconds of each other. Cammalleri went to one knee to one-time an Alexander Frolov pass and sail it over Ilya Bryzgalov’s shoulder.
Cammalleri’s second, 1:10 in the third period, was originally credited to offseason acquisition Tom Preissing, who ripped a slap shot from the blueline that looked to fly past Bryzgalov’s glove. It was later deemed that Cammalleri tipped it in front on its way to the net.
That made it 3-0 Kings, a lead the Ducks cut into when Bobby Ryan scored his first career NHL goal off a rebound in the slot that he corralled and sent into the open left side of the net.
Rob Blake, just named the Kings captain yesterday, had a goal at 10:15 in the second period after Bryzgalov let an Anze Kopitar shot trickle underneath him. Blake was there behind Bryzgalov to easily punch in the loose puck.
Michael Handzus put the game away with a shorthanded goal with the Ducks on a 6 on 4 after they pulled Bryzgalov and Brad Stuart went to the penalty box.
The Kings and Ducks do it again tomorrow night with the second game of NHL Premiere. Tomorrow’s game, like tonight, is a sellout.
"It's the first game of the year," Getzlaf said, "and we're going to take out positives and go into the next game."
20:00 - END OF GAME - The Kings thoroughly dominate the Ducks in the 4-1 victory. There's always tomorrow.
19:44 - ANA Penalty - Todd Marchant, 2 min. boarding. The penalty leads to a scuffle between the Ducks and Kings against the boards, but while all are involved, it gets stopped pretty quickly, much to the chagrine of the crowd. 19:34 - LA GOAL (SHORTHANDED) - MICHAEL HANDZUS - With the net empty, Anaheim gives up a shorthanded when the Kings get control of the puck, Patrick O'Sullivan sends it to Handzus and he sends it in. Looks like the "I Love L.A." CD made the trip to London. Unfortunate.
19:06 - LA Penalty - Brad Stuart, 2 min. crosschecking. A very small glimmer of hope for Anaheim.
18:40 - The Ducks take a 30-second timeout. I can't hear what Randy Carlyle is saying, but it's probably something involving scoring two goals in 1:20. But they come out with the Bryz pulled.
16:00 - A "Let's Go Ducks" chant emanates from the crowd. Other than that, it's very quiet in here. 13:09 - ANA GOAL - BOBBY RYAN - Chris Pronger takes a slap shot from the point that bounces off Bernie into the slot. Ryan controls it and flips it backhand into the open left side of the net. First NHL goal for the kid. It's 3-1 Kings with 6:51 left. Pronger and Beauchemin get the assists. They're booing Pronger every time he touches the puck. They weren't doing that before. Strange.
12:16 - LA PENALTY - Alexander Frolov, 2 min. tripping. Ducks power play again, where they're 0-6.
11:16 - There was a scoring change from earlier, giving the last Kings goal to Cammalleri, who tipped the Preissing shot on its way to the net.
9:13 - Kunitz tries to follow up a rebound, but Bernier won't allow it. He's looked solid tonight at only 19 years old.
8:30 - The Kings almost come down and get a shorthander, but Bryz makes a nice save on a Dustin Brown one-timer.
6:35 - LA Penalty - Anze Kopitar, 2 min. hooking. The Ducks get a chance to try and make this a game. They're 0-5 so far. 1:10 - LA GOAL (POWER PLAY)- MICHAEL CAMMALLERI - (SCORING CHANGE FROM EARLIER) Off a Kopitar pass, offseason acquisition Preissing rips a one-timer from the blueline that is tipped in front by Cammalleri and flies over Bryzgalov's glove and just under crossbar. Bryzgalov sends the water bottle flying while the Kings celebrate. It's 3-0.
0:18 - ANA Penalty - Chris Pronger, 2 min. tripping. Pronger gives John Zeiler a few shots and finally takes him down with a skate behind the net. Didn't take long for the Ducks to find the box again.
0:00 - We're underway in the third and the Ducks have some work to do. 2nd Period
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The end of the period is met with polite applause. The crowd continues to be relatively quiet. But maybe it's not their fault. Kings get another goal to take a 2-0 lead, with the Ducks certainly not looking their best. They're actually outshooting L.A., 16-15 but can't find the net. We'll be back.
19:05 - Bernier makes a heck of an acrobatic save on a near redirect goal by Todd Bertuzzi.
18:07 - Bryzgalov lets a puck trickle up high on top of the crossbar, but he grabs it. See, I told you. They made a scoring change and gave the goal to Blake.
15:02 - ANA Penalty - Rob Niedermayer and LA Penalty - Jack Johnson, 2 min. each roughing. Travis Moen takes a shot and it's saved by Bernier. In the ensuing scrum to follow up the loose puck, there is pushing and face shoving involving Niedermayer and Johnson. The crowd stands up and cheers, then later boos when there isn't a major fight developing. Jack Johnson doesn't act as relaxed as his music makes him sound. Wait, maybe they're two different guys.
11:05 - LA Penalty Raitis Ivananas, 2 min. roughing. Ducks power play again. 10:15 - LA GOAL (POWER PLAY) - ROB BLAKE - Kopitar takes a shot and Bryzgalov awkwardly spins to his left to save it, but it trickles underneath him and Blake is there behind him to easily bat it in. They announce that the goal went to Cammalleri, but they're wrong. Either way, it's 2-0 Kings and a little worrisome for the Ducks.
9:20 - ANA Penalty - Shane Hnidy, 2 min. boarding . Hnidy pins Patrick O'Sullivan against the glass and then Corey Perry comes up and drills him. Fisticuffs nearly ensue, but it's stopped. Third penalty on newcomer Hnidy.
6:39 - ANA Shane Hnidy, 2 min. delay of game. Hnidy accidentally flips a puck over the glass and into the crowd and almost kills someone. Think the delay before the game was bad PR? That would have been a little worse.
5:25 - The Kings kill another one.
3:50 - Perry tries to punch in the loose puck in front of Bernier, but he won't give an inch.
3:25 - LA Penalty - Lubomir Visnovsky, 2 min. holding. A chance for the Quack. Kunitz, Perry, McDonald, Pronger, Beauchemin on the first unit.
2:38 - We have a little scrapping in front of the net between Perry, Hnidy and an unidentified Kings player. The guys working in this press area walked closer to the window when that happened, hoping to see a fight.
0:00 - We're underway in the second. It can only get better than the first. During the intermission there is an exhibition game with pee wee players and one of them scores within the first five minutes and another scored two minutes later. It's already better than the real game. By the way, one of the teams is from Slough, which happens to be the location off the British version of "The Office". 1st Period
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - If this was the first shot at introducing ice hockey to England, it wasn't the best product in the beginning. Calling it sloppy is an insult to the world sloppy.
19:13 - The Kings kill it.
17:13 - Raitis Ivanans, 2 min. holding. Now a Ducks power play. Let's see what they do with it. Pronger, Beauchemin, Ryan, Getzlaf and Bertuzzi on the first PP unit. During the intermission, the new Kings mascot, Bailey makes an appearance throwing t-shirts into the crowd. He wears No. 72 and a Kings staffer tells me it's because it's always 72 degrees in L.A.
I'm looking down from the press area and there is a whole section of fans behind the goal with orange towels on their laps. I hope they get the chance to wave them.
11:48 - Hey, we're actually 5 on 5.
10:46 - Bryzgalov makes a nice job to save and hold after a Derek Armstrong shot from the left circle with Kyle Calder screening him.
9:48 - ANA Penalty - Todd Marchant, 2 min. hookding. Now the Kings get another 5 on 3. This isn't good. 8:35 - LA GOAL (POWER PLAY) - MICHAEL CAMMALLERI - You could see this one coming. From the bottom of the left circle, Alexander Frolov slides the puck to Michael Cammalleri, who goes to a knee to one-time it from the slight over Bryzgalov's shoulder. Lubomir Visnovsky gets the second assist. It's 1-0 Kings.
8:14 - ANA Penalty - Rob Niedermayer, 2 min. hooking. Kings get a 5 on 3.
7:29 - ANA Penalty - Shane Hnidy, 2 min. interference. Kings on the PP again. This crowd certainly isn't the loudest I've ever heard, but not much to cheer for yet.
6:05 - The Kings kill the PP in nice fashion. Ducks didn't look their best on that one, but Bernier did some nice work on the shots they did get off.
4:35 - Kings get a guy back.
4:05 - LA Penalty - Brad Stuart, 2 min.. hooking. Ducks get a 5 on 3.
2:35 - LA Penalty - Anze Kopitar, 2 min. holding. We're 4 on 4 now.
1:46 - ANA Penalty - Todd Bertuzzi, 2 min. holding. Bertuzzi knocks Brad Stuart's hat off his head and Stuart retaliates with a shot in the corner. They tangle a bit, but only Bertuzzi gets the penalty. Kings power play.
0:24 - First chant of the night, "Let go, Du-ucks."
0:00 - And we're finally underway from London, England!
5:31 p.m. - They just played "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" on the sound system. Really?
5:28 p.m. - The players are sent back to the dressing room and the game is announced to start in another 10 minutes. There are scattered boos and whistles. I forgot they do that in addition to booing here.
5:26 p.m. - They just played a tape of a guy yelling "Make some noise!" three times in a row? Noise for what?
5:20 p.m. - Whoa. It has been announced that the starting time is delayed five minutes because of a problem with the lighting system. Somebody's fired. 5:11 p.m. - They continue to treat this like a Kings home game, all the way down to the pregame entertainment to the introduction of the starters, which is done much more enthusiasticly than the Ducks lineup. This crowd, I hate to say it, isn't that loud yet. We'll see how they sound when the music isn't drowning them out. 5:06 p.m - A 15-year-old girl sang the American National Anthem and "God Save the Queen". She kind of butchered the lyrics a bit on the National Anthem (for example, rampaint instead of ramparts), but the good news is most of the people in here didn't notice. Nice job on "God Save the Queen", which sounds just like "My Country Tis of Thee" and most of the crowd sang along. Nice. I noticed the Kings starters kind of stand apart during the anthem, with three next to each other and another two down the row, while the Ducks are all side by side. Stanley Cup champs, ladies and gentlemen.
Starting Goaltenders: ANA Ilya Bryzgalov; LA Jonathan Bernier
Starting Skaters: ANA Corey Perry, Chris Kunitz, Andy McDonald, Sean O'Donnell, Chris Pronger: LA Rob Blake, Anze Kopitar, Mike Cammalleri, Lubomir Visnovsky, Dustin Brown.
Scratches: ANA Maxim Kondratiev, Brandon Segal, Ryan Carter, Gerald Coleman; LA Brian Willsie, Scott Thornton, Kevin Dallman, J.S. Aubin