LOS ANGELES — It was the play Kings' fans should have been talking about as they filtered out of Staples Center on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
Instead, the moment became buried in controversy.
Dustin Penner scored his first goal as a member of the Kings, using a signature power move to take an early lead against the Vancouver Canucks in a pivotal Western Conference game.
But all anyone wanted to talk about on the streets and in the locker room was the go-ahead goal by Daniel Sedin of Vancouver, which came with about eight minutes remaining and held up to be the winner in the 3-1 victory.
The Kings thought Sedin was guilty of cross-checking defenseman Drew Doughty into goalkeeper Jonathan Quick, creating enough room and chaos to get off the deciding shot. Kings coach Terry Murray appeared in the interview room after the game, chastised the referees for the no-call while dropping some rare expletives and then exited without taking further questions about 30 seconds later.
Questions such as, ‘What did you think of Penner’s goal?’
The scoring play began during a delayed penalty about five minutes into the game. Penner out-muscled Aaron Rome along the boards and then fended him off as he cut to the net, beating Roberto Luongo with a little flick of the wrist.
“As the games get tighter down the stretch, those are the type of goals you have to score,” Penner said. “It’s not going to be tic-tac-toe nearly as much as you like, or you think is going to happen. It’s getting pucks to the net, traffic in front … everybody’s focus and concentration is ramped up this time of year and it continues to get even harder to score goals.”
Justin Williams started with Penner and center Anze Kopitar on the top line and Penner said they can be better. Still, he likes what he sees so far.
“I’ve only been here for two games, but I like the intensity,” he said. “I like the concentration the team has. This was about the same level as [Thursday's 1-0 victory] against the Coyotes, if not more so.”
The Kings won’t have much time to mull the loss. The Dallas Stars are scheduled to visit Staples Center on Monday night, the last of a six-game home stand for the Kings.