Staples Center

Kings Come Back to Beat Leafs in Jarome Iginla's Debut

Anze Kopitar scored the game-winning goal in a shootout and the Los Angeles Kings came from behind to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-2, in Jarome Iginla's debut at Staples Center on Thursday night.

It was everything he hoped it would be. 

Jarome Iginla got a victory in his Los Angeles Kings debut as his new team came back from a two-goal deficit to take down the Toronto Maple Leafs, 3-2, in a shootout on Thursday night at Staples Center. 

"It was a fun game to be a part of," said Iginla afterwards. "For the guys, to come back there in the third when down a couple, big goal by Kopi [Kopitar] to start it and get the energy going."

Iginla played just 16 minutes on the ice in his first game with his new team after the 39-year-old winger was acquired by the Kings from the Colorado Avalanche at the trade deadline on Wednesday. 

Iginla wore the No. 88 in honor of Wayne Gretzky who he said inspired him to purchase his own No. 88 L.A. Kings jersey when he was a kid after Gretzky was famously traded from Edmonton to Los Angeles in 1988. 

Iginla received cheers from the crowd every time he touched the puck, playing most of his time on the same line as center Anze Kopitar. 

After the Kings allowed two early goals, it was Kopitar who brought the team back from the brink, snapping a 13-game drought with L.A.'s first goal just 27 seconds into the third period. 

Kopitar's slapshot hit off the helmet of Nikita Zaitsev and bounced past Andersen into the goal. A lucky shot that would swing momentum on to the side of the Kings for the remainder of the game.

A minute and a half later, Tanner Pearson tied the game with a nifty move in front of the net to beat Frederik Andersen. 

Jonathan Quick took over from there as he made 29 saves, many in the third period and overtime. However, with the game on-the-line and possibly the Kings playoff hopes, Quick stopped three consecutive Toronto players in the shootout to secure the victory. 

Kopitar scored the only goal of the shootout for L.A., but it would turn out to be the only one they needed.

"To be honest with you, I missed my shot, but it went in," Kopitar said of the goal. "They all count and I'll take it."

The win was the Kings first shootout victory since Oct. 22 and opens up the first of a seven-game homestand that L.A. desperately needs to take advantage of in order to solidify themselves in the Western Conference playoff picture. 

The two points earned on Wednesday, give the Kings 68 on the season, one more than the St. Louis Blues for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.

However, the Kings have played two more games than the Blues and ideally need to catch the Calgary Flames who are four points ahead in the Pacific Division. L.A. and Calgary will meet three more times over the final 18 games remaining in the regular season.

Meanwhile, Toronto has lost four straight and are 1-8 in shootouts this season. 

Tyler Bozak scored in the first period and Nikita Zaitsev scored in the second period. Anderson made 33 saves on the night, but it was not enough to earn the victory.

Up Next

The Kings will host the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday night at Staples Center.

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