Adrian Kempe scored two goals and Troy Grosenick made 33 saves in his first NHL appearance in nearly 6 1/2 years, leading the Los Angeles Kings past the Anaheim Ducks 5-1 on Wednesday night.
Captain Anze Kopitar, Andreas Anthanasiou and Alex Iafallo also scored for the Kings, who beat Anaheim for the first time in three tries this season and split two Freeway Faceoff meetings over the past three days with their Southern California rivals.
The 31-year-old Grosenick’s entire previous NHL experience consisted of two games in November 2014 for the San Jose Sharks. When Los Angeles goalie Cal Petersen went into the COVID-19 protocol about three hours before this game, Grosenick came through with a strong performance on short notice in his Kings debut.
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“Finding out late, honestly, I don’t think it really matters too much for me,” said Grosenick, who had played in just two professional games anywhere since March 2020. “It’s the same thing. Take the next shot as it comes. If you’re prepared for anything, things don’t take you by surprise as much.”
Grosenick’s six years and 112 days between wins comprised the seventh-longest stretch between regular-season victories in NHL history.
“The guys played hard for him,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “I think it was a motivating factor to get off to a good start. It was good to see, and certainly not easy circumstances with as little as he’s played this year. Good for him.”
Sam Steel scored and John Gibson stopped 32 shots for the Ducks, whose 6-5 win over the Kings on Monday was their second straight following a nine-game winless streak. Gibson was visibly upset with several instances of hapless play by his injury-depleted defense.
“Gibby had every right tonight to feel hung out,” Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins said. “When we got down 4-1, we started cheating the game, and you can’t do that. You can never, ever cheat the game or your teammates. We started cheating to try to find offense. You can’t do that. I really thought Gibby, we hung him out to dry, and that’s unfair to a teammate.”
Kempe has six goals in his last three games. The Swedish forward followed his hat trick against the Ducks on Monday with another huge offensive performance for Los Angeles, which won for just the second time in seven games.
“We wanted to test (Grosenick) early, but they did a good job blocking a lot of shots,” Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler said. “We need to do a better job of getting more pucks there and getting more traffic.”
Grosenick got his surprise start because Los Angeles had neither of its top two goalies available. The Kings already were without Jonathan Quick, who missed his second straight game with an upper-body injury, before Petersen was sidelined during the afternoon.
Except for those two NHL appearances in 2014 for the Sharks — who were coached at the time by McLellan — Grosenick spent the past seven seasons in the AHL with the top affiliates for San Jose and Nashville.
Grosenick signed with the Kings last October and served as their opening-night backup before he was claimed off waivers by Edmonton in January and subsequently reclaimed by the Kings in February, leading to his lack of playing time since the AHL resumed play.
Matt Villalta, a 21-year-old prospect with no NHL experience, came up from Los Angeles’ AHL affiliate to serve as Grosenick’s backup.
Kempe opened the scoring in the first period with a power-play goal. Los Angeles scored on the man advantage for the sixth consecutive game. Kopitar also scored on the power play early in the second period. The Kings are 9 for 23 on the man advantage during their scoring streak.
Anaheim played without defensemen Josh Manson (lower body) and Hampus Lindholm (broken left wrist) and forwards Troy Terry (lower body), Carter Rowney (knee) and Sonny Milano (post-concussion syndrome).
Kings: At Avalanche on Friday.
Ducks: Host Sharks on Friday.