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Johnson nets first NHL goal
The Blues defeated the Kings 5-3 late Saturday for their first victory of the season.
The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES -- It took Erik Johnson just two games to make an impact in the NHL.
Johnson scored his first goal on a power play with 7:17 left in the third period to give St. Louis the lead for good, and the Blues beat Los Angeles 5-3 Saturday night to spoil the Kings' home opener.
Johnson connected on a one-timer that deflected off Kings captain Rob Blake and past rookie goaltender Jonathan Bernier's stick while defenseman Jaroslav Modry was serving a slashing penalty. The Blues' 19-year-old defenseman, who was picked first overall in the 2006 draft, went pro after totaling four goals and 20 assists in 41 games as a freshman at Minnesota.
"Erik does what he does -- he shoots the puck," Blues coach Andy Murray said. "He was like a young player tonight. I mean, the first couple of power plays he made some mistakes. Then the guy that passed the puck to him put it right in his wheelhouse, and he hammered that puck."
Jamal Mayers had two goals, one of them into an empty net with 47 seconds left. Keith Tkachuk and David Backes also scored for the Blues, who trailed 3-1 after two periods and outshot Los Angeles 15-4 in the third.
Manny Legace allowed two goals on 16 shots, and was replaced by Hannu Toivonen at 12:35 of the second period with a 2-1 deficit after tweaking his right knee. It was the same knee that sidelined Legace for the final 21 games last season.
Toivonen faced just eight shots, giving up a power-play goal by Dustin Brown with 64 seconds left in the second period.
However, Mayers triggered St. Louis' comeback with a slap shot that beat Bernier to the stick side at 8:42 of the second period. Tkachuk narrowed the gap to 3-2 at 2:38 of the third.
Backes got the tying goal, redirecting a weak slap shot by Jay McClement past Bernier's right skate.
Paul Kariya, who signed a three-year, $18 million free agent contract with the Blues on July 1, helped set up Johnson's game-winner by taking the puck away from Kings center Michal Handzus in the right corner. The addition of Kariya and Johnson should bolster a power-play unit that was the league's second-worst last season at 12.1 percent.
Brown had two goals and an assist for the Kings, and Anze Kopitar had three assists. Michael Cammalleri also scored for Los Angeles.
Murray, who guided the Kings for five-plus seasons and holds the franchise record for wins, returned to Staples Center for the second time since taking the Blues job last December and improved his record against his former team to 4-0.
"It's gratifying to come in here and win," Murray said. "The Kings are my second favorite team last year -- and now I've got even more reasons for them to be my second-favorite team."
There was an added element to this homecoming as Murray's son, Brady, played his second game for the Kings. The 23-year-old left wing was drafted by them in June 2003, following his dad's fourth season as their coach. It was only the fourth time in NHL history that a player competed in a regular-season game against a team his father was coaching.
"I noticed him a couple of times on a couple of faceoffs," Andy Murray said. "We put a good line out there after an icing call against us and he won a big faceoff for them.
"He's played against men for a couple of years now (in Switzerland), and I think that's to his advantage. He's a skilled offensive player. They've asked him to be their fourth-line center, because that was the spot that was open on the team this year. I thought he was pretty solid for them, tonight. We weren't getting any advantages when his line was on the ice."
Notes: Ruth Murray made the trip from the family home in
Fairbault, Minn., to watch her son play against his father's team. ... The other three father-son combinations on opposing teams were Bill and Gord Dineen (Feb. 9, 1993), Bob and Mark Johnson (Oct. 21, 1982) and Rich and Landon Wilson (Feb. 26, 2002). ... Cammalleri, who had 34 goals and a team-high 80 points last season, has four goals in the first three games.