LOS ANGELES (AP) — After an offseason cluttered by contract negotiations and surgery, Rickard Rakell returned to the Anaheim Ducks’ lineup just in time for a rivalry game.
The Swedish forward hit the ice in full stride.
Rakell had a goal and two assists in his season debut, and John Gibson stopped 30 shots to earn his seventh career shutout in the Ducks’ 4-0 victory over the Kings on Tuesday night.
After he scored a career-high 43 points last season, Rakell missed training camp and the first nine regular-season games while holding out for a new contract and recovering from surgery related to appendicitis. Rakell agreed to a six-year, $22.8 million deal on Oct. 14 — and a few days after securing his U.S. visa, he posted his first three-point game since Jan. 11, 2015.
“I’m just trying to find the timing and everything,” said Rakell, who scored more points than he managed in his first 10 games combined last season. “I think I just was in the right place at the right time today. Of course, it gives you confidence to be able to build off this.”
Coach Randy Carlyle, who left the organization before Rakell’s rise, is counting on the wing to be a consistent scorer this season.
“You saw his hands and his vision tonight,” Carlyle said. “We’re fortunate to have a player like that on our side.”
Antoine Vermette and Ryan Kesler scored power-play goals 31 seconds apart in the second period before Joseph Cramarossa scored his first NHL goal for the Ducks, who emphatically won the first Freeway Faceoff rivalry game of the season.
Cramarossa scored on a wraparound that deflected off two Kings midway through the period. The 24-year-old former third-round pick got his first goal in his fifth NHL game.
“I got a lucky bounce there, but it feels good,” Cramarossa said. “I don’t even know what I did after. I think I put my hands up? I saw it cross the line. It was just amazing. I won’t forget today.”
Vermette and Kesler scored two points apiece, while Corey Perry added two assists for the Ducks, who have earned points in five of six after an 0-3-1 start.
The Kings have been shut out in three straight games for the first time since 1968-69, their second NHL season. Los Angeles is on its second three-game skid of the season, with a four-game winning streak sandwiched between them.
When asked how to turn around the losing streak, coach Darryl Sutter replied: “Score a goal.”
Peter Budaj made 12 saves in his seventh straight start for Los Angeles before Jack Campbell replaced him in the third period.
“He wasn’t very good,” Sutter said of Budaj. “I mean, did you look at the shots and scoring chances? He wasn’t very good. That’s clear. I don’t pull goalies very often, but they’re expected to make some saves.”
Anaheim went ahead late in the first period when Ryan Kesler won a faceoff to Rakell, who alertly shot the puck through the legs of two Kings.
The Ducks added two more shortly after Jake Muzzin took a double minor for high-sticking. Vermette got his first goal for his new team on a setup from Rakell, and Kesler tipped home a pass from captain Ryan Getzlaf.
The rivals had a prolonged brawl midway through the third after Getzlaf held the stick of Jordan Nolan, who responded with a punch. Three players from each team got major penalties for fighting.
NOTES: Campbell made five saves in his second career NHL appearance. He was the No. 11 pick in the 2010 draft by Dallas. … Kings D Drew Doughty doesn’t turn 27 until next month, but the Norris Trophy winner pulled even with Mark Hardy for the 10th-most games played in Los Angeles franchise history with his 616th appearance. … Anaheim LW Nick Ritchie went to the dressing room in the second period after a big hit from Los Angeles D Tom Gilbert. Ritchie spent the third being evaluated for an undisclosed injury. Carlyle had no update of his condition.
Ducks: Host Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
Kings: Host the Penguins on Thursday night.
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