Mike Richards of the Kings. (Stephen Dunn / Getty Images )
The Kings' expectations soared when the team acquired center Mike Richards from Philadelphia in June. L.A. has reason for more optimism after his impressive debut Friday.
Richards scored the tying goal and set up the winner as the Kings opened the season with a 3-2 overtime victory over the New York Rangers at the Ericsson Globe arena in Stockholm.
With the Kings on the power play, Richards took a pass from Anze Kopitar and fed Jack Johnson, who had driven low on the left side. Johnson spoiled Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist's homecoming with a quick shot four minutes eight seconds into sudden-death play.
"A four-on-three is the biggest prime opportunity in hockey," Johnson told NHL.com. "We had drawn up something and were waiting for an opportunity to drive through."
Richards brought the Kings even at 2-2 at 15:01 of the third period when he redirected a pass from Brad Richardson, who was moved up to the second line because Dustin Penner (lower-body injury) could not play. Richardson went wide and confused the Rangers' defense before finding Richards.
"It was nice to finally get started," Richards told NHL.com. "For me, there was a lot of anticipation to get this started."
Dustin Brown, the right wing on that line, got the second assist.
"I thought they played well," Kings Coach Terry Murray told the Associated Press. "They were energized, and they did a good job overall in their checking responsibilities."
Each team scored in the first period. Kopitar, silencing questions about his recovery from ankle surgery, put the Kings ahead with a one-timer at 10:51. He was set up on a backhand pass from Justin Williams after a Rangers turnover. The Rangers tied it at 15:22 on a bad-angle goal past Jonathan Quick by defenseman Ryan Callahan, who was among the game's most effective players and took 11 of the Rangers' 26 shots.
Rangers center Brad Richards, who spurned a free-agent offer from the Kings over the summer, played a key role in giving New York a 2-1 lead at 10:28 of the third period. He won a battle along the end boards and sent the puck in front, where Brandon Dubinsky swatted at it before Marian Gaborik prodded it home.
Mike Richards brought the Kings even, and Johnson produced their only power-play goal in five tries after Rangers defenseman Ryan McDonagh was sent off for tripping Willie Mitchell 2:51 into overtime.
Afterward, the NHL fined Rangers defenseman Mats Zuccarello the maximum $2,500 but did not suspend him for boarding Kyle Clifford in the first period. A minor penalty was called on the play.
The Kings will conclude the NHL's Premiere Series Saturday against the Buffalo Sabres at Berlin's O2 World Arena. According to the Kings' website, Jonathan Bernier will start in goal. FS West will televise the game at 11 a.m. PDT.
Elliott reported from Los Angeles.