Martin Jones’ NHL debut ended in a nine-round shootout, with the Anaheim Ducks’ high-scoring lineup taking turns bearing down on the Los Angeles Kings’ new goalie.
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Jones faced up to the pressure and turned away everything he saw, leading the Kings to a strong start to the Freeway Faceoff.
Jones made 26 saves before his perfect shootout performance, and Dwight King scored the only shootout goal Tuesday night in the Kings’ 3-2 victory over the Ducks.
Jeff Carter and captain Dustin Brown scored for the Kings, who have earned a point in 13 of their last 14 games. They barely escaped Orange County with a second point thanks to Jones, the 23-year-old AHL goalie who got a promotion after Jonathan Quick’s injury.
"To be honest, I’ve been in that situation before," Jones said of the lengthy shootout. "Obviously, the shooters are a little bit of a higher level up here, but I just wanted to stay patient and stick with what I’ve been doing down (in the AHL).
Jones has spent nearly three weeks as the backup to Ben Scrivens, who started the Kings’ last 10 games after Quick went down with a groin injury. Scrivens has been one of the NHL’s best netminders in Quick’s absence, keeping Jones out of the crease until this back-to-back set.
Jones was ready for the long-delayed opportunity, even against Anaheim’s vaunted collection of forwards.
"Once you start the day and start going through your routine, everything is pretty familiar," Jones said. "And it’s the same game. It was intense, for sure. I wanted to make sure I was just prepared and as focused as I could be, and try to enjoy it a little bit if I could. It was a great experience, and something I’ve dreamed about for a long time — playing in an NHL game and getting a win. It was everything it was cracked up to be."
Southern California’s two NHL teams started off their season series with an entertaining game befitting two clubs entering the night with their best combined record (35-14-8) in the two-decade, 113-game history of this head-to-head rivalry.
Anaheim veteran Jonas Hiller made a season-high 49 saves and stopped Los Angeles’ first eight shootout attempts, but King scored on a wrist shot before Jones stopped Mathieu Perreault to end it.
"It’s good to see a kid play in his first game and get a win somehow," Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said. "He’s a pretty poised guy when you watch him. Hopefully this is something he can build on."
Corey Perry and captain Ryan Getzlaf scored for the Ducks, still the only NHL team that hasn’t lost in regulation at home. Anaheim is 10-0-2 at Honda Center, becoming just the third team to earn a point in its first 12 home games since the implementation of the shootout in 2005.
"It’s tough to lose it that way," said Hiller, who finished two saves shy of his career high. "I don’t know if (King) missed the shot a little big, but it kind of caught me right between the pad and my glove. It’s a tough one."
Perry scored a tiebreaking power-play goal for Anaheim early in the third period, but Brown tied it for Los Angeles a few minutes later. Both teams had fruitless power plays during a hair-raising overtime, including a two-man advantage for Anaheim.
"(Hiller) was tremendous," Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. "He was the reason we got a point tonight. When you have the opportunity on your stick, whether you deserve to win the game or not, you’ve got to put it away. That killer instinct has been eluding us for a little bit now. We’ve got to find it somewhere."
The local rivals finally got their season series underway in front of a raucous bipartisan crowd. The 2012 Stanley Cup champion Kings and the 2013 Pacific Division champion Ducks are both serious title contenders again this year, and they’ll meet at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25 for a landmark outdoor game.
Perry put the Ducks ahead when he roofed a backhand off a pass from Penner, but just 3:29 later, Stoll won a faceoff to Brown, whose heavy shot escaped Hiller’s glove and trickled into Anaheim’s net. The goal was Brown’s first in seven games, just his second in 14 games.
Los Angeles is in an 0-for-25 power-play slump over the past seven games.
NOTES: Los Angeles scratched LW Daniel Carcillo and RW Linden Vey for the second straight game, dressing Matt Frattin and Colin Fraser. … Anaheim scratched D Alex Grant, who scored a goal in his NHL debut in San Jose last Saturday. … Los Angeles signed the 23-year-old Jones as an unrestricted free agent five years ago during his junior career in Calgary. He rose to a starting position for the Kings’ AHL affiliate in Manchester, but was stuck behind Quick and Jonathan Bernier, traded to Toronto last summer.