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Last Updated: Saturday, 29 September 2007, 19:35 GMT 20:35 UK
Kings beat Ducks in London opener
Action at London's O2 Arena
London's O2 Arena hosts back-to-back matches to start the season

By Paul Woloszyn

Los Angeles Kings got the better of the Anaheim Ducks with a 4-1 win before 17,551 O2 Arena fans in the first NHL regular season game ever in Europe.

The Kings won the London contest thanks to powerplay goals in each of the three periods before the defending Stanley Cup champions got a late consolation.

Mike Cammalleri scored twice for the Kings with Rob Blake and Michal Handzus also on target.

The California rivals will meet again on Sunday at the Greenwich venue.

After a 15-minute delay due to a lighting failure, the new season finally got underway in front of a capacity crowd.

606: DEBATE

And it came as no surprise that NHL bad boy, summer Ducks signing Todd Bertuzzi had the dubious honour of receiving the first penalty.

The Ducks, officially the visiting team, did get the first five-on-three opportunity of the game but after failing to take advantage were duly punished when their opponents got a similar chance.

With the two extra men the Kings, who failed to reach last season's play-offs, took the lead on 8:35 as Cammalleri slotted in from the right circle.

Anaheim found themselves pinned back in their own zone for much of the opening session after a series of penalties but still managed to make it to the first intermission with just a one-goal deficit.

I thought our penalty-killing was great - last year that was one of our biggest downfalls

Kings coach Marc Crawford

The NHL champions, who beat the Ottawa Senators to win their first title in June, began the second period brightly but could not force the puck past agile Kings netminder Jonathan Bernier.

Then, with 30:15 on the clock, Los Angeles doubled their advantage as captain Blake swept home a rebound after Anze Kopitar's shot had been well saved.

The Kings then assured themselves of their opening two Western Conference points of the season as Cammalleri tipped in Kopitar's shot from in front of the net, while they were once again on the powerplay.

Bobby Ryan did manage to salvage some late hope for Anaheim, but the fourth powerplay goal of the game proved too little too late with just under seven minutes remaining.

The Kings then capped a fine evening as Handzus scored an empty net goal while they were short-handed in the final minute of the game.

Many fans came hoping to see a fight, and they finally got one in the second period.

After several minor scuffles, Kings defenseman Jack Johnson and Ducks centre Rob Niedermayer went at it and drew matching roughing penalties. Two smaller altercations came late in the third period.

After the game, delighted Kings coach Marc Crawford said: "We had so many good things happening for our team.

"Jonathan Bernier - we couldn't have expected anything better from a 19-year-old goaltender, he looked a very solid.

"I thought our penalty-killing was great - last year that was one of our biggest downfalls.

"They had great sticks all night and did so many positive things and of course we scored three powerplay goals, so we had a lot of elements of our game that went well."

We need to turn the page on what happened last year because now we're starting the season

Ducks coach Randy Carlyle

Crawford also revealed that the late start to the game actually worked to his team's benefit. "I think that maybe the delay in some way helped us because the guys went back into the room and when they came out again they seemed to be much more focused the second time," he said.

Meanwhile, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said: "I thought we competed extremely hard, we did a lot of the things that are staples of our game, but our lack of execution on the offensive side cost us the hockey game.

"We need to turn the page on what happened last year because now we're starting the season and last year really means nothing.

"We have to compete at a higher level to give ourselves the chance to win it again."

The NHL, which has played season-openers in Japan on three occasions in the past, decided to play the opening two games of the season in Europe to increase its overseas market.

America's National Football League is doing something similar, with the Miami Dolphins playing the New York Giants in a regular season game on 28 October at the new Wembley Stadium.

As part of the National Basketball Association pre-season, the Boston Celtics play the Minnesota Timberwolves on 12 October also at the O2.



SEE ALSO
NHL circus in town
27 Sep 07 |  Ice Hockey
Boston get Garnett in major deal
31 Jul 07 |  Basketball
Ticket rush for NFL Wembley game
07 Feb 07 |  American Football
NHL rivals set to meet in London
01 Mar 07 |  Ice Hockey
Anaheim seal Stanley Cup triumph
07 Jun 07 |  Ice Hockey


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