ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Los Angeles Kings relied too much on their goalie, but Jonathan Quick was up to the task against the Minnesota Wild.
Quick made 27 saves, and Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter scored shootout goals for the Kings, who rallied to beat the Wild 3-2 on Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.
Carter and Drew Doughty scored regulation goals for Los Angeles, which had just 18 shots. Quick stopped Zach Parise and Mikko Koivu in the shootout.
“He was huge,” Kopitar said. “Over the course of the past three or four years we’ve gotten pretty familiar with his play. He’s always been back there holding strong for us, and tonight was no different.
“He held us in there and we found a way to score a goal at the end of the game, and finished it off in the shootout.”
Matt Cooke and Jonas Brodin scored in regulation for Minnesota, which had never lost a home opener in its first 12 seasons (11-0-1).
After Quick stopped Parise to begin the shootout, Kopitar made a deke on Niklas Backstrom to score for the Kings. Quick then poked the puck away from Koivu on Minnesota’s second attempt before Carter beat Backstrom with a backhand to complete the comeback.
With the Kings trailing 2-1, Carter scored on a rebound of a shot by Matt Frattin at 13:14 of the third period to tie it.
“We had two periods where it felt like we were in our D zone the whole time,” Doughty said. “That takes a toll on you. We were tired but the boys didn’t give up in the third. We kept taking it to them and trying to get more chances.”
A fashionable pick to win the Pacific Division and go deep into the playoffs, Los Angeles made relatively few off-season changes to its roster. The Kings stayed with the core that helped them advance to the Western Conference finals last spring and win the Stanley Cup in 2012.
Quick is a key part of that nucleus.
He had to be at the top of his game as the Wild had little resistance much of the night when they crashed the net looking for rebounds. Quick made 13 of his saves in the second period, including a glove stop to rob Parise on a power play.
“We don’t ever come into a game thinking we have Quick back there,” Doughty said. “We know that in the back of our heads, but we want him to have the least amount of work possible. We gave him too much work.”
Despite the loss, Minnesota players took a positive look at their performance.
“They were a little bit better getting out of their end. They had a few more chances. In the end, I think we deserved two points,” defenceman Keith Ballard said. “With the shootout, that happens. We played a pretty solid hockey game.
“If we keep replicating that game over and over again, I think we’ll be all right this year.”
Minnesota got on the board just 64 seconds into the game when a centring pass from Kyle Brodziak deflected off Cooke’s skate in the crease and past Quick. After a video review, it was determined there was no kicking motion.
Doughty tied it with a power-play goal at 7:40 of the first period with a one-timer from the top of the left circle that clanked off the far post and went in.
Minnesota got its own power-play goal 10 minutes later to go up 2-1.
Nino Niederreiter corralled a loose puck near the right boards and cut to the middle before backhanding a pass to Brodin, who was coming down the slot. His quick shot beat Quick high on the glove side. The defenceman had just two goals last season.
But the Wild couldn’t muster any more offence.
“You know that that next goal is important,” Wild coach Mike Yeo said. “You know that extending that lead makes a huge difference and not giving them hope. At the same time we were playing pretty strong.
“It didn’t work out in our favour tonight, but playing like that you should have the confidence to bring it home.”
NOTES: Minnesota RW Jason Pominville signed a five-year, $28 million contract extension. … Kings D Willie Mitchell played his first game in more than 15 months. He missed last season following two knee operations. … This was the Kings’ only appearance in Minnesota this season. The teams are scheduled to meet Jan. 7 and March 31 in Los Angeles. … Los Angeles will play at Winnipeg on Friday. Minnesota will host Anaheim on Saturday.