Kings crown Wild
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Kings have more players who are capable of finishing plays around the net this season. Count Pavol Demitra among them.
Demitra scored on a 40-foot wrist shot with 1:29 left in overtime, Eric Belanger also scored and Mathieu Garon made 24 saves, leading the Kings to a 2-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Sunday night.
Tim Gleason sent Craig Conroy into the Minnesota zone with the puck and he fed it to Demitra, who stepped around Wild defenseman Nick Schultz and beat a screened Manny Fernandez to the glove side for his second goal of the season.
"I couldn't see the shot, but I knew he was going high-glove," Fernandez said. "I saw his face move, I saw his head move and I knew the shot was coming. I knew where he was going with it and I knew I was beaten right away."
Demitra, who averaged 30 goals over his previous seven seasons before signing with the Kings as a free agent in August, acknowledged that he waited for the screen to develop before letting it go.
"The defenseman tried to step up on me, so I faked, went around him, got open space and took a shot," he said. "There were two guys skating in front of the goalie, and I just shot as hard as I could. They have a hardworking team, play a strong defensive game and they're not going to open up too much at any time. So you have to make the most of the chances you create against them."
Fernandez made 30 saves in his season debut after missing the first two games with back and neck spasms.
It was his first game action since his preseason appearance on Sept. 23, when he made 27 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Florida Panthers at Grand Forks, N.D.
"It would have been nice to steal one here," Fernandez said. "The guys worked hard and we didn't get what we deserved. But they played hard, too."
Minnesota had an 8-1 advantage in shots on net by the time Wes Walz opened the scoring at 6:52 of the first period with an unassisted goal. He beat Garon to the stick side from short range after a turnover in the Kings' zone, but the Wild wasn't able to get anything else past the rookie.
"The puck was bouncing in the slot all night, but I think he was seeing the puck well," Minnesota forward Alexandre Daigle said. "He was always on the rebounds and he didn't give up a lot of rebounds. It seemed like either his defensemen were on them or he was catching them. He's a good goalie."
The Kings tied it at 2:52 of the second period on a play that would have been whistled for offsides prior to this season, when passing the puck across two lines was a rule violation. Defenseman Mike Weaver made a long pass from behind his blue line to Derek Armstrong, who was a step behind the Minnesota line. Rookie George Parros worked the puck to Belanger, who beat Fernandez to the stick side from short range.
The officials had to go to the instant replay with 4:26 left in the third period to determine if Walz had put Minnesota back in front. Walz tried to jam a rebound past Garon, and the puck ended up in the goalie's glove along the goal line. But the replay was inconclusive.
"I caught the puck in my glove," Garon said. "A player came and pushed my arm over the goal line and I just pulled it back quickly, I had the puck the whole time. I didn't have much time to think about it. I just pulled my arm back I was just happy it was not a goal."
NOTES: Sunday was the 19th anniversary of Luc Robitaille's first NHL game and the first of his 654 career goals, which are the most by any left wing in league history. ... Before the game, the Kings activated team captain Mattias Norstrom, who was sidelined since Sept. 27 because of a strained left hamstring. Norstrom is the only Kings player to appear in all 17 regular-season meetings with Minnesota. ... D Denis Grebeskov, who turns 22 on Monday, was assigned to Manchester of the AHL after sitting out the Kings' first two games of the season as a healthy scratch. He was the 18th overall pick in the June 2002 draft, and played in four games with the Kings during the 2002-03 season.