Kempe does it all as Kings defeat Senators
OTTAWA — In just the 34th game of his NHL career, Adrian Kempe helped start the night, then extended it and finally ended it.
The rookie center scored with 1:46 left in regulation and added the second of the Los Angeles Kings’ two shootout goals in a come-from-behind 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday night at Canadian Tire Centre.
Kempe also won the draw to set up the Kings’ first goal, 24 seconds into the opening period.
“For Adrian to step up in a big way like he did, it’s great to see,” Kings captain Anze Kopitar said. “It’s very encouraging. He’s a very mobile guy, he skates very well. He sees the ice well. He’s making plays and that’s great for us.”
Kempe displayed his anticipation skills to snatch a victory from the Senators. When goalie Mike Condon had the puck on his stick behind the net, Kempe jumped in front of a below-the-goal line pass to defenseman Johnny Oduya for an interception, then stepped out in front to score his fifth goal goal of the season.
“I heard the D-man calling for it so I tried to go over there and he gave it to my tape,” said Kempe, the Kings’ first pick in the 2014 entry draft. “I tried to take it to the net and five-hole was open so I just tried to put it between his legs.”
The mistake spoiled an otherwise strong performance by Condon, who had 41 saves in just his second start of the season. His version of what Oduya called for is different that the Kempe offered.
“It obviously should have been two points,” Condon began. “It’s a tough play behind the net. Johnny did a good job talking. It’s obviously not on him. He called reverse, which means the puck goes back the way it came. I just heard a friendly voice and I threw it that (wrong) way.
“That’s on me. We practice that a lot. We practice our communication. That was just a mental mistake on my part. That’s a tough way to lose a game.”
Defensemen Alec Martinez had the other goal for Los Angeles, and Mike Cammalleri also scored in the shootout. Darcy Kuemper made 29 stops in goal, then two in the shootout on Kyle Turris and Mark Stone, as the Kings (7-1-1) bounced back from their first regulation loss of the season on Monday in Toronto.
“We weren’t happy with the result we had yesterday so we just wanted to try to bounce back today,” Kempe said. “I think we played a good game and got the result we wanted.”
Dion Phaneuf and Nate Thompson scored for the Senators (4-1-4), who fell to 1-1-4 at home.
It was also the third time the Senators have failed to win a game they led in the third period at Canadian Tire Centre.
“It’s something we’ve got to work on,” Phaneuf told reporters. “We’ve openly said it, not only discussed it in our room but with everybody else, including you guys. We’ve got to focus on closing games out.”
Phaneuf bristled when asked about the error made by Condon.
“I don’t think we’re even in the hockey game if it’s not for Condo,” he said. “I don’t think it’s very fair to point fingers. Everyone makes mistakes. Lots of guys made mistakes tonight, including myself. He’s always there to back us up and make those saves. I think it should be a non-issue. He played incredible well for our team, and let’s move on.”
Kings coach John Stevens was pleased with the turnaround by his club 24 hours after a 3-2 loss in Toronto.
“I thought we played much better tonight,” Stevens said. “I thought we had really good energy and I thought our compete on the puck in all three zones was a lot better.
“In a back-to-back situation I thought we got really good contributions from everybody. I thought it was a really solid team effort that stuck with it for 65 minutes.”
The Senators were braced for a difficult opponent.
“It’s another giveaway,” coach Guy Boucher said. “We had the game at that moment, so we had done a lot of good things. We knew it was going to be a tough game, against a team that’s at the top right now with a lot of experience. We knew we weren’t going to score many goals with the absence of some guys.
“We knew we had to play a tight game, which we did. We kept ourselves in the game, had ourselves a lead. We definitely could have won that game. It’s sad at the end, a little mistake.”
NOTES: Senators D Mark Borowiecki returned after missing two games with an upper-body injury. ... The Senators scratched C Max McCormick, who was called up from AHL Belleville on Monday. ... Kings D Kurtis MacDermid was in the lineup after sitting out Monday’s game in Toronto. ... Kings D Christian Folin and RW Justin Auger were scratched. ... Los Angeles C Brooks Laich was a sixth-round pick of the Senators in 2001. ... The Senators’ next game is Thursday at home against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Kings play the Canadiens on Thursday in Montreal.