Stephen Sylvanie / Special to the Sun
Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009 | 10:30 p.m.
Anze Kopitar hit the jackpot Saturday night.
The Los Angeles center cashed in on a penalty shot late in the third period to lift the Kings past the Colorado Avalanche 5-3 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in front of 11,263 fans in the 12th annual Frozen Fury exhibition.
Kopitar’s penalty shot followed a controversial ruling in which the referees penalized the Colorado Avalanche for covering the puck during a pileup in front of goaltender Craig Anderson.
With just 6:35 remaining in the game, Kopitar buried the penalty shot with a backhand through Anderson’s legs to put the Kings on top 4-3.
“I just tried to stay calm,” Kopitar said. “I kind of envisioned in my head what I was going to do. I just got in there and fortunately it worked out for me.”
Los Angeles is now 9-2-2 in the Frozen Fury, including three victories over Colorado in the past four years.
Keeping with the Frozen Fury tradition of tight games, Saturday’s win did not come easily for the Kings.
The Avalanche took an early 1-0 lead when Wojtek Wolski tapped in a feed from Matt Duchene midway through the first period.
Los Angeles answered, though, as Alexander Frolov redirected a Jack Johnson slap shot to tie the game 1-1 with 1:22 remaining in the first period.
The momentum gained from Frolov’s goal did not last long as the Avalanche quickly jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second period on a pair of goals by Darcy Tucker.
Tucker scored at the 2:30 and 7:40 marks to deflate the raucous crowd of mostly Los Angeles supporters.
“We didn’t play that bad, but (Colorado) capitalized on the mistakes we made in the second period,” Kopitar said. “It’s always problem when you are playing pretty good but not getting the results.”
Despite the two-goal deficit, the Kings managed to start a rally after a four-on-four goal by Drew Doughty with 9:31 remaining in the second period.
Less than four minutes later Kopitar poked in a loose rebound to tie the game 3-3. The following period Kopitar flashed his penalty shot heroics to seal the victory.
“It’s a preseason game that’s got the feel of a regular season game,” Kopitar said. “It’s a sellout crowd and just a great atmosphere. I think all the fans get pumped for this game and luckily we gave them a good show.”
Los Angeles forward Wayne Simmonds notched an empty-net goal as time expired to cap the 5-3 victory as the Kings improved to 4-2-1 in the preseason while Colorado dropped to 3-3.
Steve Silver can be reached at 948-7822 or [email protected].