Oct. 17—LOS ANGELES — Ryan Hartman got the last laugh.
After getting tangled up with Kings defenseman Drew Doughty early in his shift, Hartman found a sliver of open ice on the other side of the net.
With nobody around him, Hartman corralled a pretty pass from Marcus Foligno in front, then quickly rifled a shot into the back of the net. He added insult to injury with a heck of a celebration, pumping his arms up and down, very much in Doughty’s direction.
“That’s just the emotion of the battling,” Hartman said. “That’s the type of hockey our team brings. That energy and excitement kind of boiled over.”
That goal proved to be the back-breaker as the Wild ran away with a 3-2 win over the Kings on Saturday night at Staples Center. That win helped the Wild improve to 2-0-0 heading into the home opener against the rival Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday night at Xcel Energy Center.
Aside from Hartman, the Wild also got goals from Freddy Gaudreau and Victor Rask in the game, and Cam Talbot posted 29 saves to record the win.
After a scoreless first period, both teams got rolling in the second period, starting with a goal from Kings winger Viktor Arvidsson to make it 1-0.
Fortunately for the Wild, that deficit only lasted 54 seconds before Gaudreau buried a pinpoint pass from Kevin Fiala in front to level the score at 1-1.
“I just try to be open in that situation and trust that Kevin would find me,” Gaudreau said. “That’s what he did.”
Then, later in the frame, Rask collected a pass from Kirill Kaprizov and scored to make it 2-1 in favor of the Wild. The fact that Rask was playing with Kaprizov and Mats Zuccarello on that particular shift stemmed from Joel Eriksson Ek getting caught on the ice during a lengthy penalty killer.
“We weren’t afraid to sit him for a whole rotation just to get his breath back,” Evason said of Eriksson Ek. “We talked about how Rasky played with those two guys last season and had success. You’re not afraid to do it, right?”
That decision paid dividends immediately. Not long after that it looked like Brandon Duhaime had scored the first goal of his NHL career later in the second period to stretch the lead to 3-1. That said, upon further review, the officials ruled that Duhaime interfered with Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick on the play.
“We knew it could go either way,” Evason said. “We didn’t even talk to the guys on the bench. They were talking I think (Foligno) said something like, ‘No matter what we’re playing good right now. Let’s just keep going.’ Again, we’ve talked about it before, it’s sure nice when the players talk like that and the coaches don’t have to.”
Fittingly, Hartman scored less than 30 seconds later to make it 3-1, for real this time.
With the Wild trying to put the game away in the third period, Kings center Anze Kopitar scored a lucky goal off the rush to cut the deficit to 3-2. He misfired with his shot attempt and the puck deflected into the back of the net off of Matt Dumba’s skate.
In the end, though, the Wild tightened up down the stretch to make sure they left the West Coast with a couple of wins under their belt.
“I think starting on the road helps,” Hartman said. “You’re traveling on the plane. You’re going to dinner. You’re around each other every day. It’s definitely excited to get back home, though. We got four points and that was our goal.”