LOS ANGELES — Talk about a trial by fire.
That is exactly what 25-year-old, wet-behind-the-ears rookie goaltender Erik Ersberg faced on Thursday night at Staples Center when the Ottawa Senators, a team that is battling for first place in the Eastern Conference, came to town to face the Los Angeles Kings.
But Ersberg turned out to be bulletproof against the Sens, pitching a 2-0 shutout win while stopping forty shots, earning his first National Hockey League victory in front of an announced crowd of 17,580 fans.
“It feels good,” said the native of Sala, Sweden, the Kings’ first Swedish goaltender. “That was my first win, so it was really nice to get one. Finally. But wins are more important than shutouts, I guess.”
“[Ersberg] made great saves for us,” said Kings right wing Dustin Brown, who was involved in both Kings scoring plays. “They’re a high-powered offense and he did a great job. When you see him off the ice, he’s small. But the bottom line is that he stops the puck. When it comes to goaltending, that’s all that really matters.”
And of course, his coach was impressed.
“It was a great effort by our team, but you can’t start talking about this game without talking our young goaltender,” said Kings head coach Marc Crawford. “That’s a terrific performance for him. He was just a calming influence all night.”
“When they had their chances in the third where they really put on their charge, they were throwing everything at us and getting all their people into the attack,” added Crawford. “I thought he was just so calm and collected back there. It was very, very nice to see that, coming from such a young goaltender who’s never won a game in the National Hockey League.”
“It’s always wonderful to get a win, it’s always wonderful for a goaltender to get his first win and you do it with a shutout, it’s got to be even more special. Then you do it against one of the top teams in the East—that’s terrific.”
After a scoreless first period in which the Kings came out strong early, only to see the Senators assert themselves later in the period and end up outshooting the Kings, 16-8, the Kings came out of the dressing room after the first intermission and dominated the Sens in the second period.
The Kings failed to score with a two-man advantage, but right after it expired, right winger Alexander Frolov took a pass in the slot and beat Senators goaltender Martin Gerber through a screen provided by Brown. The power play goal, Frolov’s 21st goal of the season, came at the 8:10 mark.
The Kings wound up outshooting the Senators in the second period, 21-8, and the only reason the Kings failed to put more pucks in the net was the stellar play of Gerber, who robbed several Kings forwards in the period at point-blank range.
“Sometimes you run into goalies like that,” said Brown. “We did what we had to as a team and the bottom line was that we won. The key is that when a goalie is playing like that—one goal we scored on he didn’t see. That was with a screen—traffic in front. Frolov just slid it right along the ice. When you have a hot goalie, you have to make it tough for him to make saves and we did that tonight.”
As much as the Kings ruled the second period, the Senators dominated the third, outshooting the Kings, 16-3, spending what seemed like an eternity in the Kings zone.
But no matter what they tried and no matter how many times the Kings gift-wrapped point-blank scoring chances for them, the Sens misfired or were stopped by Ersberg, and then Kings winger Patrick O’Sullivan scored an empty-net goal at the 19:55 mark to give the Kings their final margin of victory…
To read the full story, click: Rookie Goalie Shuts Out The Sens
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