LOS ANGELES – Seldom-used goalie Steve Valiquette had a bit of a score to settle with the Los Angeles Kings, and struggling defenceman Michal Rozsival helped him do it.
Rozsival scored on a penalty shot in the second period and then added the winner 3:41 into overtime, lifting the New York Rangers to a 3-2 victory over the Kings on Wednesday night.
The game featured an interesting matchup of goalies, who faced the teams that drafted them.
Jason LaBarbera, a third-round draft pick by the Rangers in 1998, appeared in only five games with them before joining the Kings in 2005. Valiquette was an eighth-round selection by the Kings in 1996. His first NHL contract was with the New York Islanders, who signed him as a free agent in 1998.
“I was really looking forward to this game because I was drafted by the Kings. So at the beginning of the season when I saw the schedule come out, I really hoped to play in this game,” Valiquette said. “I had a really good time in juniors, but they just never came to watch me – so there was always motivation since then to play against L.A.
“There’s different people in charge now, but I’m definitely happy to beat them.”
Valiquette and LaBarbera were AHL teammates in Hartford in 2004-05, finishing that season 1-2 in the league in goals-against average.
“My good friend Jason and I had some good battles in the minor leagues,” Valiquette said. “When we played together in Hartford, we really pushed each other there and we’ve been really close friends since. We’ve always enjoyed competing in practice and in games, so there were a lot of reasons for me to come in here and have a really good game.”
Valiquette finished with 39 saves in his sixth start this season and fifth on the road.
“Stevie really played unbelievable,” said Rozsival, who was a minus-12 before Wednesday. “He’s the reason we actually had any chance to win this game.”
Rozsival doubled his output for the season and notched his third NHL multigoal game. New York captain Chris Drury scored for the second time in two nights after an 11-game drought and added an assist in overtime.
The Atlantic Division-leading Rangers, who opened a three-game West Coast trip with a 3-1 win at Anaheim on Tuesday, have won three in a row. They improved to 10-1-1 in overtime, counting shootouts.
Patrick O’Sullivan and Dustin Brown scored for the Kings.
Rozsival recorded his 13th career winning goal on a one-timer from 45 feet, beating LaBarbera high to the glove side. He was awarded a penalty shot 12:33 into the second after rookie defenceman Drew Doughty cleared part of teammate Jarret Stoll’s broken stick toward the left point, where Rozsival tried to play the puck. Rozsival beat LaBarbera with a backhander, giving the Rangers a 2-1 lead.
“I thought that a penalty was going to be called, which would have given us a 5-on-3. But I had no idea it was going to be a penalty shot,” Rozsival said. “It happened so quick. I’m not used to this. I made up my mind that I was going to go in on a direct line and go to the backhand. A penalty shot doesn’t happen every day, especially for a defenceman.”
The Kings tied it with 17:33 left in regulation. Brown, playing in his 300th NHL game, scored his 12th goal on a rebound.
“I think the effort was there,” forward Anze Kopitar said. “We had a lot of shots and had some good chances to put the game away. We can be satisfied with the way we played, but it’s frustrating not to win.”
The Rangers tied it 1-1 with 44 seconds left in the first period after a sloppy turnover by Sean O’Donnell.
The 14-year veteran defenceman tried to sweep the puck away from a forchecking Nigel Dawes with one hand on his stick, but the puck glanced off the skate of defence partner Matt Greene. Drury took an off-balance wrist shot that trickled in off LaBarbera’s glove.
O’Sullivan put Los Angeles on the board with a power-play goal at 14:24 of the first against the NHL’s top penalty-killing unit, converting Kopitar’s cross-ice pass in front of the crease.
LaBarbera stopped 27 shots and should get more work the next two weeks as Erik Ersberg recovers from a groin injury sustained Monday in a shootout loss to San Jose.
Notes: LaBarbera’s other start against the Rangers resulted in a 4-2 road victory last February, when he made 23 of his 39 saves in the second period. … Rozsival’s penalty shot was the 12th successful attempt against the Kings and the first since Dec. 23, 2006, when Nashville’s David Legwand scored. … The Rangers played the Kings and Ducks in back-to-back road games for the ninth time, but had never before won both. … Rangers opponents are 2-for-34 on the power play over the last nine games, but New York is only 3-for-40 over their last 10 contests. … The Rangers’ 22 victories are the second-most in the NHL behind San Jose’s 25.