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STANLEY CUP FINAL

Kings' Colin Fraser strikes first with his first playoff goal

Fraser, who works on the Kings' fourth line, scores the first goal in the Stanley Cup Final against the Devils.

May 30, 2012|By Chris Foster
  • Kings forward Colin Fraser, right, celebrates with his teammates after scoring during the first period of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday.
Kings forward Colin Fraser, right, celebrates with his teammates after… (Bruce Bennett / Getty Images )

NEWARK, N.J. — Colin Fraser scored his first Stanley Cup playoff goal Wednesday.

It was a monumental moment, one that started the Kings on the path to a 2-1 overtime victory over the New Jersey Devils in the Stanley Cup Final opener.

Yet, after going through a family emergency in which his son was taken to a hospital two weeks ago, it was far from vital.

Fraser's one-timer beat New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur midway through the first period for a 1-0 Kings lead. It was the product of scrappy work by the team's fourth line, and put the Devils on their heels.

But it was just a goal.

"Family is forever, but hockey is just a game," Fraser said.

The Kings were coming off a victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals when Fraser got the call that Caulder, his 18-month son, was in the hospital. He left the team May 15 and returned to Alberta, Canada, after Coach Darryl Sutter came to his Phoenix hotel room to assure him that it was the right decision.

"It was kind of a last-minute decision to go home," Fraser said. "It was one of those things where I don't want it to ever happen again, but obviously it is a no-brainer. My son needs me, I'm going to go home. It was like 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' getting there."

Fraser declined to say why his son had to go to the hospital but said, "All the tests came back and everything is good. He's back at home and eating. The Kings encouraged me that going home was the right decision."

Fraser returned to the lineup May 20. Two nights later, he had an assist in a victory over Phoenix that sent the Kings into the Stanley Cup Final.

He topped that Wednesday.

Fraser played five playoff games previously, all with Chicago. He was on the Blackhawks' 2010 team that won the Stanley Cup but did not play in the Final.

He was a role player with the Kings this season, but was so well-regarded that he is the team's nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, given to the NHL player who exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.

But red-light moments were few and far between.

Fraser scored only two goals in 67 games this season. His first was on Nov. 12 against the Minnesota Wild, two days after being activated from the non-roster list. His next came 58 games later against the Boston Bruins on March 24.

He didn't wait so long for the third.

Some body work by the Kings' Jordan Nolan relieved New Jersey's Andy Greene of the puck behind the New Jersey net. Nolan found Fraser, who found the back of the net.

"Jordan did all the work," Fraser said. "Jordan got to their defenseman. He turned the puck over, he found me in the slot. I just tried to get the shot off as fast as could, hoping the goalie wasn't ready for it.

It wasn't about picking

corners or anything like that."

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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