Anže Kopitar Star of the first game of Stanley Cup Final
Anze Kopitar won a psychological battle against New Jersey Devils goalie Martin Brodeur to score the winning overtime goal for the Los Angeles Kings in Game One of the Stanley Cup Finals on Wednesday.
"I went forehand," the Slovenian center said with a smile after his goal at 8:13 of the extra period secured a 2-1 win. "I guess that goes back a few years when we were in the shootout in L.A. and I went backhand on him.
"Maybe he thought I was going to do it again. Tonight, I just wanted to mix it up a little bit."
Kopitar's goal gave the unlikely Western Conference champions a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series and a mind-boggling ninth successive road win in the playoffs.
"Every time you get on the road you need a team effort," Kopitar said. "It showed again tonight. We had four lines going... Jonathan (Quick) was great in the net for us again. We got to continue doing that."
The game-winning play began when Drew Doughty dug the puck out along the boards and flipped it up the ice to Justin Williams, who passed perfectly to Kopitar, surging alone up the middle of the ice.
"Well, the battle was just inside our zone... the puck was chipped out to Justin and I kind of just wanted to make sure I stayed in the middle," the Slovenian added.
"It worked out pretty well after that.
"I don't know if he heard me or not," Kopitar said of right winger Williams. "I yelled for the puck. He chipped it obviously perfect, right on my tape."
Kopitar took his time as he approached Brodeur, feinting to his right before skating left and holding the puck until he was able to slip it under the goalie's pads.
"It feels great," Kopitar added. "Every time you get the chance to finish it off in OT, to face a world class goaltender like Marty is, it's definitely a good feeling."