Kings-Penguins after one period: 1-1
This wasn't your normal Thursday night game against a team you see six times -- and it feels like 60 -- during the season.
The Kings were ready for this game, to measure where they stand against the team that won the Stanley Cup last spring and has shown every sign of being hungry to repeat its victory. The Penguins had their pride at stake, as well as a chance to continue pursuing an NHL record for most consecutive road wins to start a season. They entered the game 7-0-0 away from home, three short of the 10 straight road games won by the 2006-07 Buffalo Sabres to start their road schedule.
Kings Coach Terry Murray and Penguins Coach Dan Bylsma enhanced the intensity by allowing their No. 1 lines to face each other and battle it out. The best played against the best, and it was a treat to watch Pittsburgh’s Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby and Bill Guerin try to outdo the Kings’ trio of Ryan Smyth, Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams.
From that standpoint, the Kings could claim a victory because the Kopitar line produced their only goal of the period. But the Penguins matched that 43 seconds later, and the teams were even after the first period.
The Kings scored before many fans had found their seats. Kopitar took a pass in the neutral zone from a pivoting Williams and slipping behind the Penguins’ defense. Kopitar moved in on goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and slipped a backhander into the net 27 seconds into the game.
That lead didn’t last long. Chris Conner, given too much room as he skated up the left wing, slid a pass back to Jordan Staal for a 55-foot slap shot that eluded Jonathan Quick at 1:10.
The Kings outshot the Penguins, 7-6, in the first period. Pittsburgh produced four of its shots during a power play that resulted from Matt Greene being sent off for holding Pascal Dupuis at 5:52. Quick’s best save in that span was a point-blank, right-pad stop on Guerin as the veteran winger stood at the lip of the crease.
More later from what has been a fast-paced and entertaining game. Can they keep up this pace?
-- Helene Elliott