Sopel got a measure of payback on Tuesday night, scoring the go-ahead goal on a power play with six seconds left in the second period to lead the Kings to a 4-2 victory. The goal was Sopel’s second in three games, matching his entire total in 68 games last season with the Islanders and Kings. Los Angeles acquired him in a trade with New York on March 8, and he played in 11 games for the Kings before undergoing surgery on his right knee in May.
“Last year was miserable. Getting these two points against them was a little bit sweeter, for sure,” Sopel said. “There were a lot of things wrong there, and I was happy to get out of there and go to an organization like L.A.”
Michael Cammalleri and Tom Kostopoulos scored first-period goals and Dan Cloutier made 23 saves for the Kings. Alexander Frolov added a power-play goal with 17 seconds remaining in the game, jamming a rebound past goalie Rick DiPietro.
Richard Park and Alexei Yashin scored for the Islanders, who are off to a franchise-worst 0-3 start.
The Kings snapped a 2-2 tie with 3 seconds left on Yashin’s hooking penalty. Oleg Tverdovsky threw the puck into the slot from the right circle and Sopel one-timed it over DiPietro’s glove with heavy traffic in front of the crease.
“We did it to ourselves,” New York’s Brendan Witt said. “We have to be more disciplined out there. We keep talking about it, but I think we refuse to get it into our heads and do it. We’re not going to get this thing fixed until we stop taking these selfish penalties that cost us games. You’ve got to move your feet in this game. It’s a speed game now. It’s not old-time hockey where you clutch and grab. They’re calling that stuff now.”
The Islanders nearly tied it with two minutes to play, but former Kings left wing Jason Blake hit the right post from short range. The play was reviewed and the Kings escaped with the two points.
Cammalleri tied it 1-all at 9:47 with a 30-foot wrist shot after skating across the blue line with a pass from Derek Armstrong. Kostopoulos then converted a rebound of Sopel’s wrist shot at 17:36 after defenseman Tom Poti’s backhanded clearing pass didn’t make it out of the Islanders’ zone.
“We don’t think it was our best effort, but we got the win,” Kings defenceman Aaron Miller said. “We would have loved to have gotten that fourth goal a little earlier, but they kind of stayed in it the whole game and they battled hard. But we need a better 60-minute effort than that.”
Yashin tied it 38 seconds before intermission with his first goal of the season, a 40-foot slap shot that broke off Cloutier’s glove and dribbled across the goal line with the teams skating 4-on-4.
The Islanders converted their first shot on net 76 seconds after the opening faceoff, as Park’s one-timer from the left circle found a crack of daylight between Cloutier’s arm and the left post after Shawn Bates centered the puck out from behind the net.
Notes: Kings coach Marc Crawford, who won the Jack Adams Trophy as the NHL’s top coach in 1994-95 with the Quebec Nordiques, tied Adams for 15th place on the career victory list with his 413th. … DiPietro made 35 saves. … The Islanders were 0-for-7 on the power play and the Kings were 2-for-12 … The teams had not faced each other since Feb. 16, 2004, a 1-1 tie at Nassau Coliseum. … The Islanders conclude their season-opening four-game road trip Wednesday night at Anaheim.