UFC 257: Dustin Poirier knocks out Conor McGregor in 2nd round

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Dustin Poirier punches Conor McGregor of Ireland in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Dustin Poirier punches Conor McGregor of Ireland in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (L-R) Conor McGregor of Ireland punches Dustin Poirier in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, Dustin Poirier reacts after his knockout victory over Conor McGregor of Ireland in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Joanne Calderwood of Scotland punches Jessica Eye in a flyweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Michael Chandler punches Dan Hooker of New Zealand in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Amanda Ribas of Brazil punches Marina Rodriguez of Brazil in a strawweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Andrew Sanchez punches Makhmud Muradov of Uzbekistan in a middleweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Arman Tsarukyan of Armenia punches Matt Frevola in a lightweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Khalil Rountree kicks Marcin Prachnio of Poland in a light heavyweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Sara McMann punches Julianna Pena in a bantamweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

  • In this handout image provided by the UFC, (R-L) Amir Albazi of Iraq punches Zhalgas Zhumagulov of Kazakhstan in a flyweight fight during the UFC 257 event inside Etihad Arena on UFC Fight Island on January 23, 2021 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Jeff Bottari/Zuffa LLC via Getty Images)

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ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates — Dustin Poirier stopped Conor McGregor with a flurry of punches midway through the second round Sunday (late Saturday night PST), avenging his loss to the Irish superstar with a knockout victory at UFC 257.

Poirier (26-7) caught McGregor with a series of shots to the head before buckling his knees with two left hands. Poirier then sent McGregor to the canvas with a short right hand and finished it swiftly, setting off stunned excitement among the few thousand screaming fans allowed inside the Etihad Arena on Yas Island.

In his first fight in a year, McGregor (22-5) had a strong first round before he was stopped by punches for the first time in his mixed martial arts career.

McGregor, whose previous four losses all came by submission, stayed on the canvas for several moments afterward, gathering himself after his second loss in three fights since 2016.

“You know, it’s hard to overcome inactivity over long periods of time,” said McGregor, who hadn’t fought since beating Donald Cerrone last January. “I just wasn’t as comfortable as I needed to be, but Dustin is some fighter. If you put in the time, you’re going to get cozy in here. I have to dust it off and come back, and that’s what I will do. … I’ll take my licks, but I’m gutted.”

McGregor and Poirier met for the first time in September 2014 as featherweights, and McGregor won by knockout in just 106 seconds during his incredible early-career success. McGregor became the featherweight champion 15 months later, while Poirier rebuilt his career with just one loss in his next 11 fights.

With a second chance to derail McGregor while boosting his own hopes of regaining the lightweight title, Poirier didn’t miss.

Sporting a shaved head and a beard, McGregor pushed the action early against Poirier, who landed an early takedown before getting backed against the cage for stretches of the first round. In the second, Poirier bothered McGregor with leg kicks before throwing the punches that ended it.

In the co-main event at UFC 257, three-time Bellator lightweight champion Michael Chandler made a stunning UFC debut with a violent knockout of New Zealand’s Dan Hooker midway through the first round.

Chandler could be the next matchup for Poirier in a fight for the lightweight title apparently vacated by long-reigning 155-pound champ Khabib Nurmagomedov, who announced his retirement after his final victory last fall.

UFC President Dana White so far has been unable to persuade Nurmagomedov to go back on his vow to his mother to quit the sport after his father’s death, not even for a wildly lucrative rematch with McGregor, who repeatedly vowed to fight on after this loss to Poirier.

McGregor has not fought regularly in recent years, but his popularity was undiminished: UFC 257 is expected to be one of the most popular pay-per-view events in the promotion’s history, according to White, and distribution problems in the U.S. early in the PPV portion of the card led fans to bombard social media and ESPN with complaints.

Chandler’s long-anticipated UFC arrival was worth the wait for his 27th professional fight in a career that began in 2009.

After a deliberate start, Chandler (22-5) jabbed to the body as he lunged forward and caught Hooker with a left hand to the face that crumpled his opponent. Chandler finished a dazed Hooker with punches on the ground before climbing atop the cage and doing a full standing backflip into the octagon from atop the fence.

And Chandler was still fired up in his post-fight interview, calling the bout “the greatest moment of my professional life.”

“Conor McGregor! Surprise, surprise, there’s a new king in the lightweight division,” Chandler added. “Dustin Poirier, your time is coming. And Khabib, if you ever do see fit to grace us with your presence back here in the UFC octagon in your quest for 30 (victories), you know you’ve got to beat somebody, so beat me — if you can!”

Marina Rodriguez opened the pay-per-view portion of UFC 257 by upsetting fellow Brazilian strawweight contender Amanda Ribas. Rodriguez got a second-round stoppage with a flurry of punches and a knee in the opening minute.

UFC 257 concluded a run of three shows in eight days with a few thousand fans allowed inside the promotion’s coronavirus bubble in the Middle East. The promotion hadn’t held shows with fans since before the pandemic began last March.

The UFC returns to Las Vegas in two weeks for another run of shows at the fan-free Apex gym on its corporate campus.

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Charisma Osborne, No. 6 UCLA women hold off No. 5 Stanford

  • UCLA guard Charisma Osborne glides past Stanford guard Anna Wilson on her way to the basket during the first half of Friday’s game in Santa Cruz. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • UCLA forward Emily Bessoir (11) vies for the ball between Stanford forward Cameron Brink (22) and guard Lexie Hull (12) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. UCLA won 70-66. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • UCLA forward Michaela Onyenwere (21) drives with the ball against Stanford guard Haley Jones (30) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • UCLA guard Charisma Osborne, left, and Stanford guard Lexie Hull vie for possession of the ball during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • Stanford guard Lexie Hull (12) shoots over UCLA guard Natalie Chou (23) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • UCLA forward Michaela Onyenwere (21) shoots against Stanford during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • Stanford guard Lacie Hull (24) drives to the basket against UCLA forward Michaela Onyenwere (21) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • UCLA guard Charisma Osborne (20) takes a three-point shot against Stanford guard Anna Wilson (3) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • UCLA forward Michaela Onyenwere, right, shoots over Stanford forward Cameron Brink (22) and guard Lacie Hull (24) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • Stanford guard Kiana Williams (23) shoots over UCLA guard Charisma Osborne (20) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • UCLA guard Charisma Osborne (20) shoots over Stanford guard Lexie Hull, left, and forward Alyssa Jerome (10) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • UCLA head coach Cori Close yells to her players during the first half against Stanford in an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • UCLA forward Michaela Onyenwere (21) passes the ball against Stanford guard Lacie Hull (24) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • Stanford coach Tara VanDerveer talks with guard Kiana Williams (23) during a timeout in the second half of the team’s NCAA college basketball game against UCLA in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • Stanford forward Francesca Belibi (5) drives to the basket against UCLA forward Lauryn Miller (33) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. UCLA won 70-66. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • UCLA forward Michaela Onyenwere (21) is fouled by Stanford guard Lacie Hull (24) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. UCLA won 70-66. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • UCLA guard Natalie Chou, center, works for the ball against Stanford forward Cameron Brink, right, and guard Kiana Williams, left, during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. UCLA won 70-66. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • UCLA guard Charisma Osborne (20) celebrates the team’s 70-66 victory over Stanford in an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

  • UCLA’s Emily Bessoir, left, Charisma Osborne (20), Michaela Onyenwere and Chantel Horvat, right, celebrate the team’s 70-66 victory over Stanford in an NCAA college basketball game in Santa Cruz, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)

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The pressure the UCLA women’s basketball team faced on Friday night was considerable, but the Bruins withstood it – and at times thrived under it – as they handed Stanford its second straight loss.

“A lot of people talk about how we don’t have a lot of players and there’s only eight or nine of us, and we don’t really worry about that,” Charisma Osborne said. “I’m just really proud of how my team played, and how everyone came out and just was so tough.”

Osborne had 24 points, nine rebounds and three steals and sixth-ranked UCLA handed No. 5 Stanford its second straight loss, 70-66, on Friday night at Kaiser Permanente Arena in Santa Cruz. Michaela Onyenwere added 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Bruins (9-2, 7-2 Pac-12), Natalie Chou had 12 points and five rebounds, and Emily Bessoir added 11 points.

UCLA blew an 11-point lead in the second half, and the score was knotted three times in the fourth quarter, Stanford rallying to tie it for the last time at 66 with 1:47 remaining. Osborne hit two free throws with 1:23 remaining to put the Bruins back in front for good.

The Cardinal had a chance to tie or win in the final seconds, but Francesca Belibi committed the team’s 14th turnover with 13 seconds left and UCLA put the game away at the free-throw line, Osborne and Onyenwere each making one.

“I wanted to come out in this game and really just play freely and just play how I play,” Osborne said. “Credit to my teammates for giving me a pep talk before the game when we were getting ready and just telling me that no one can guard me and giving me a lot of confidence.”

It was Osborne’s fourth consecutive game logging at least 20 points.

“I just hugged her so tight after the game,” UCLA coach Cori Close said, “and just was like, ‘Look, you did it. You lived it. You earned the confidence now, of what it means to be an elite player in big games on both sides of the ball on the road. I can’t give you that confidence – you’ve got to earn it – but you sure earned a whole lot of confidence tonight.’”

“Everyone on our team knows it’s not about ‘me,’ it’s about ‘us,’” Close praised. “I just thought there was so much selflessness on display tonight. That was the difference in the game – our toughness, togetherness, and our selflessness to be able to play whatever role is needed.”

Early, Stanford (11-2, 8-2) appeared eager for a bounce-back performance after the then-top-ranked Cardinal, lost 77-72 in overtime at Colorado on Sunday, but UCLA was able to match its brisk pace through the opening quarter and capitalized on Stanford mistakes when it mattered most. Osborne turned a takeaway into a layup, then drained a deep 3-pointer to cut Stanford’s lead to 9-8 near the 7:20 mark.

The Cardinal forced the Bruins to the perimeter for many of their shots in the first quarter. Freshman Emily Bessoir hit a 3-pointer to tie the score at 11-11, but Stanford was able to pull away for a 20-15 lead.

UCLA responded in the second quarter. Onyenwere made a layup, then hit another just as the shot clock expired to tie it at 27-all. An Osborne 3-pointer gave the Bruins the lead again with 5:40 left and they held a 41-36 advantage at halftime.

UCLA kept its rhythm in the third quarter – when Onyenwere fell hard on her elbow – and led by seven points heading into the fourth.

Kiana Williams led the Cardinal, who lost consecutive games for just the fourth time since 2010, with 19 points and five assists. Belibi had 14 points, Haley Jones added 12 points and five rebounds, and Lexie Hull had 11 points and six rebounds.

The Bruins won their fourth straight game and improved to 3-2 against ranked opponents. They dominated the boards, outrebounding Stanford 44-31, including a 21-7 advantage on the offensive glass, translating to an 18-6 edge in second-chance points.

UP NEXT

UCLA hosts Arizona State next Friday. The Bruins were scheduled to play at Cal on Sunday afternoon, but that game was postponed due to COVID-19 developments within the Cal program.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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Ducks work overtime, earn a point, but fall to Avalanche

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog (92) celebrates after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks in overtime of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) vies for the puck against Colorado Avalanche forwards Mikko Rantanen (96) and Nathan MacKinnon (29) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche players, including Samuel Girard (49) and J.T. Compher, celebrate a goal against Anaheim Ducks during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) and Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon (29) vie for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) stops a shot in front of Colorado Avalanche forwards Nazem Kadri (91) and Valeri Nichushkin (13) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen, left, and Ducks forward Carter Rowney chase the puck during the first period of Friday’s game at Honda Center. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forwards Tyson Jost (17) controls the puck as Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (41) defends against Anaheim Ducks defenseman Jacob Larsson (32) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks forward Carter Rowney (24) falls over Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen (96) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen (96) controls the puck while defended by Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm (47) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf (15) works between Colorado Avalanche forwards Valeri Nichushkin (13) and Gabriel Landeskog (92) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert (11) gets caught between an official and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Jacob Larsson (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer (31) blocks a shot as Devon Toews (7) defends against Anaheim Ducks forward Max Jones (49) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks forward Max Jones (49) works against Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews (7) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer (31) stops a shot by Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf (15) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert (11) controls the puck next to Anaheim Ducks forward Max Jones (49) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer (31) and forward Nathan MacKinnon (29) defend as Anaheim Ducks forward Derek Grant (38) shoots during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri (91) falls as he chases the puck in front of Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf (15) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard (49) works with the puck next to Anaheim Ducks forward Maxime Comtois (53) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks’ Adam Henrique (14) celebrates Jakob Silfverberg (33) after scoring against the Colorado Avalanche during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog celebrates after scoring against Anaheim Ducks in overtime of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche players celebrate after an overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks in an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

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ANAHEIM — The man atop the Ducks’ most-wanted list remained in trade limbo on Friday.

No, not top prospect Trevor Zegras. He continued to hone his craft with the AHL’s San Diego Gulls.

The Ducks were said to be among the most aggressive teams pursuing a deal for Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Columbus Blue Jackets, increasing their offer for the 22-year-old center. The Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets reportedly were the other teams in the mix.

A deal was expected to be completed by the end of the weekend.

No question, the Ducks could have used all of Dubois’ many skills with the puck as they struggled to score again during a 3-2 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Honda Center. The goal-starved Ducks’ overall play was vastly improved over their first four games of the season.

But they didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard and they fell to 1-2-2.

The Ducks have only eight goals in five games.

Gabriel Landeskog scored 1:38 into OT to lift the Avalanche (3-2-0), chasing down his own rebound and slipping the puck into the net from near the right goal post. Ducks goalie John Gibson made a spectacular initial save, but couldn’t reset himself in time to stop the second bid.

“That’s the best game we’ve played,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “I thought our guys played hard. We had lots of chances to score. We had lots of looks at their net. Some guys who maybe hadn’t had a lot of attempts on net, a lot of shots, woke up.”

The Ducks rallied from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to force the game to OT and earn a point.

They wanted the second one, too.

“It’s so disappointing not to get the points when you play well like that,” said Eakins, who was every bit as encouraged by his team’s play Friday as he was upset about it after Wednesday’s loss to the Minnesota Wild. “We’ll let it hurt for a little bit, but we are going to take some good out of this game.”

Mikko Rantanen gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead at 6:20 of the third period, chipping home a centering pass from rookie defenseman Bowen Byram. Adam Henrique then answered for the Ducks 1:22 later, set up by Danton Heinen for his first goal of the season.

Gibson then saved Nathan MacKinnon’s penalty shot 47 seconds later to preserve the 2-2 tie at 8:31 of the third. Defenseman Hampus Lindholm was whistled for covering the puck with his hand while it was in the crease during a goalmouth scramble.

“That’s a dangerous player (MacKinnon) and ‘Gibby’ handled it like it was nothing,” Eakins said of Gibson, who made 29 saves in his return to the net after sitting out Wednesday. “That’s a massive save at an absolutely critical part of the game. But that’s what ‘Gibby’ brings.”

Jakob Silfverberg nearly produced the tying goal, after Joonas Donskoi scored a power-play goal to put Colorado ahead 1-0 only 2:56 into the game. Philipp Grubauer denied Silfverberg’s initial try with a toe save and then sprawled to deflect the rebound attempt and keep it out of the net.

Silfverberg was one of the names Eakins named after the Ducks’ listless 3-2 loss to the Wild on Wednesday. In fact, Silfverberg was benched for several shifts in the second period, along with linemates Henrique and Heinen as Eakins tried to jump-start his team.

On

Friday, Eakins started fourth-line grinders Nicolas Deslauriers, Derek Grant and Carter Rowney, not to send a message to his more gifted skaters and playmakers but simply to get the Ducks off to a better start than in their first four games of the season.

It didn’t work.

Lindholm was penalized for holding 59 seconds into the opening period, and Donskoi made the Ducks pay with a shot from the lower portion of the right faceoff circle that ricocheted off the right goal post and past Gibson for Colorado’s 10th power-play goal in 22 chances this season.

Lindholm redeemed himself with a wicked shot off Grubauer’s outstretched glove 47 seconds into the second period, tying the score 1-1 by converting from the left wing after a clever pass from Rickard Rakell. Ryan Getzlaf also assisted, moving him within seven of 700 for his career.

“We definitely had some steps moving in the right direction, I think, but if you want to be a winning team you have to win these types of games, too,” Lindholm said. “It’s a long season and we’ve only played five games. If we can keep taking strides like we’ve been doing, it’s going to be a fun year.”

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Adrian Kempe helps Kings rally past Avalanche for first win

  • Kings center Gabriel Vilardi falls next to Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves during the third period of Thursday’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen (96) scores against Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Colorado Avalanche players celebrate after a goal by right wing Mikko Rantanen (96) against the Kings during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon shoots and scores during the first period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Kings on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) defends against Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Colorado Avalanche left wing J.T. Compher, left, and Kings center Michael Amadio (10) fight during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings center Gabriel Vilardi (13) scores against Colorado Avalanche goaltender Hunter Miska (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • The puck shot by Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, not seen, flies past Colorado Avalanche goaltender Hunter Miska (32) for a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • The Kings celebrate a goal by defenseman Drew Doughty (8) during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Colorado Avalanche goaltender Hunter Miska (32) dives to catch the puck during the second period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Kings on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick (32) blocks a shot by Colorado Avalanche defenseman Ryan Graves, center, during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. Kings’ Olli Maatta (6) defends. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings center Trevor Moore (12) and center Blake Lizotte (46) defend against Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (29) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Colorado Avalanche goaltender Hunter Miska blocks a shot by Kings defenseman Drew Doughty (8) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings right wing Adrian Kempe, second from right, celebrates with center Anze Kopitar (11) after scoring a goal during the third period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings players celebrate after right wing Adrian Kempe (9) scored a goal during the third period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. Colorado Avalanche goaltender Hunter Miska is at left. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) trips Colorado Avalanche left wing Brandon Saad (20) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. Brown was penalized for tripping. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick makes a save during the second period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, Jan. 21, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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The Kings earned their first victory of the season Thursday with a 4-2 triumph over the Colorado Avalanche at Staples Center.

The game saw them rebound from a 2-0 deficit and turn in a domineering effort in the second half of a meeting with the Stanley Cup favorite.

After three one-goal losses to start the season, including two in which the Kings were up by two going into the third period, Coach Todd McLellan was pleased that his team was able to pull one out.

“It wasn’t a Picasso but we don’t need perfection right now,” McLellan said. “It was a happy night at the end, but it was stressful throughout.”

Defenseman Drew Doughty and forward Gabe Vilardi both scored power-play goals for the Kings (1-1-2). Winger Adrian Kempe, who skated on the top line, scored the game-winner and center Blake Lizotte added an empty-net goal. Center Anze Kopitar contributed two assists. Jonathan Quick returned to his net and made 24 of 26 saves on his 35th birthday.

Center Nathan MacKinnon and right winger Mikko Rantanen scored for the Avalanche (2-2-0). Hunter Miska made his first career start in net and stopped 23 shots while allowing three goals.

Though the Kings began the game aggressively and drew a penalty, they gave up the game’s first goal soon after their power play. MacKinnon took the puck to the net for a backhand shot. That generated a rebound for Rantanen, who pushed the puck home for his third goal of the season and his second in as many games against the Kings.

The Kings have surrendered the first goal in each of their four games in 2021.

Just under seven minutes into the first period, Jeff Carter sent Andreas Athanasiou into the offensive zone with speed, where he left a drop pass for Lizotte. Lizotte’s shot was the second Kings attempt to hit the post in the first seven minutes Thursday.

The next goal also went to Colorado, when MacKinnon fired a laser to the far side for a power-play goal with 45 seconds left in the opening period. It was perhaps the only significant blemish on the Kings’ penalty killers, who along with Quick helped shift momentum in the Kings’ favor as the game continued.

The Kings got on the board during an extended five-on-three power play. Miska beat back some sustained pressure, but the Kings regrouped. Kopitar’s pass from the goal line to the high slot found Doughty with a clear shooting angle. Doughty’s blast – his first goal of the season – halved the Avs’ lead.

“Having extended five-on-three time is big, and nowadays you’ve got to score or else you’re behind,” Kopitar said.

Kopitar played in career game No. 1,077, all of them with the Kings. That mark tied him with team president and former left wing Luc Robitaille for the third-most in team history. They trail only Dave Taylor (1,111), who drafted Kopitar as the Kings’ general manager, and Kopitar’s teammate Dustin Brown.

“We’ve played together for the better part of 15 years and he’s like a brother to me,” Kopitar said of Brown. “To be able to have him alongside is very special to me, and hopefully we can keep this thing rolling.”

The second power-play unit also converted for the Kings, knotting the score at two. A decisive pass to Vilardi at the right-wing wall allowed him to skate into the faceoff circle and let fly with a rising wrist shot from a sharp angle that banked off Miska’s mask and into the net.

The Kings trailed in shots on goal 17-7 but were tied at 23 midway through the third period as they carried the play later in the game.

“We just kept going. We just kept playing. We got down early and then we just kept battling. We had lots of penalties but other than that we played good five-on-five and the (power play) came up big,” Vilardi said.

The Kings took a lead in shots and goals simultaneously with a hair under four minutes remaining.

Kopitar received the puck down low and spun away from the net to sweep the puck to Kempe for a redirection that gave the Kings their first lead. It was Kempe’s second goal in his last two games, and if not for two scoring changes he might have ended up with a goal in each of his first four outings.

Kopitar said he knew Kempe was in front and tried to fool the defense by turning away from the net. He backhanded the puck to Kempe, who had boxed out his defender in a way that would have made Dennis Rodman proud.

Colorado pulled its goalie with more than two minutes to play and applied pressure six-on-five. Left wing Gabriel Landeskog dinged the post from point-blank range in Colorado’s best chance late in the game.

Doughty and Mikey Anderson, a pairing the Kings might deploy more frequently, were caught on the ice for a shift of more than two minutes as time wound down. But the Kings were no worse for wear as they forced a turnover and Lizotte lofted the puck into the open net to secure the 4-2 victory.

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Laguna Hills swimmer Tona Zinn commits to Northwestern

Laguna Hills High swimmer Tona Zinn, who became a CIF Southern Section individual champion as a freshman, committed to Northwestern on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

The junior from the SOCAL club announced his commitment on Instagram, thanking his friends, family and coaches for their support.

As a freshman in 2019, Zinn captured the 200-yard individual medley at the Division 1 final in 1 minute, 48.61 seconds. He also placed third in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 55.79.

Zinn went on to race at the CIF State meet in Clovis, finishing fifth in the 200 IM and ninth in the breaststroke.

Last spring, Orange County’s high school swimmers didn’t get much of a chance to make a splash as the pandemic ended their season in mid-March.

In a club meet in Arizona last month, Zinn clocked a swift 1:47.61 in the 200 IM. Corey Okubo holds the county record with a 1:45.42 for University in 2014.

Please send swimming news to Dan Albano at dalbano@scng.com or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter or Instagram

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Laguna Hills High, SOCAL swimmer Tona Zinn commits to Northwestern

Laguna Hills High swimmer Tona Zinn, who became a CIF Southern Section individual champion as a freshman, committed to Northwestern on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

The junior from the SOCAL club announced his commitment on Instagram, thanking his friends, family and coaches for their support.

As a freshman in 2019, Zinn captured the 200-yard individual medley at the Division 1 final in 1 minute, 48.61 seconds. He also placed third in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 55.79.

Zinn went on to race at the CIF State meet in Clovis, finishing fifth in the 200 IM and ninth in the breaststroke.

Last spring, Orange County’s high school swimmers didn’t get much of a chance to make a splash as the pandemic ended their season in mid-March.

In a club meet in Arizona last month, Zinn clocked a swift 1:47.61 in the 200 IM. Corey Okubo holds the county record with a 1:45.42 for University in 2014.

Please send swimming news to Dan Albano at dalbano@scng.com or @ocvarsityguy on Twitter or Instagram

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Cal State Fullerton bounces back for series split with CSUN

A night after being scolded by Coach Dedrique Taylor for a lack of effort, the Cal State Fullerton men’s basketball team bounced back on Sunday with a complete-game victory over Cal State Northridge, 85-77, at Titan Gym.

The Titans lost the opener of the two-game Big West Conference series on Saturday night despite CSUN being without its two leading scorers, and Taylor lamented his team’s lack of intensity.

“They responded the right way and were really scrappy against a good team,” Taylor said following Sunday’s win. “We didn’t really talk about offense or defense before the game, just doing what we do in practice and playing hard.”

Sunday’s rematch was close throughout, but the Titans finally took control with a late run. Leading 68-67 with 4:48 left, they outscored the Matadors 13-6, Vincent Lee scoring seven points and Dante Maddox Jr. and Tory San Antonio hitting 3-pointers. That gave the Titans (3-4 overall, 2-4 Big West) an eight-point lead with 1:48 left and the Matadors couldn’t get closer than six points the rest of the way.

Lee led the team with a career-high 25 points on 10-for-13 shooting while grabbing 11 rebounds. Lance Spivey added 13 points off the bench, Maddox had 11 off the bench and San Antonio had 10.

“We did a good of finding Vincent inside,” Taylor said of the 6-foot-8 sophomore forward. “I think we can score enough, but we have to buy in to playing the right way. We know what Vincent can do. We have enough guys who can shoot and score inside, we just have to have more of an effort to playing hard.”

The Matadors (5-4, 1-1) were again without TJ Starks (18.1 ppg) and Lance Coleman (15.7 ppg), and the Titans put a wall around guard Brendan Harrick, who made seven 3-pointers on Saturday. Miles Brookins (6.3 ppg) also missed the game for CSUN.

Darius Brown scored 14 points with six rebounds and seven assists for CSUN. Vante Hendrix scored 14 and Atin Wright had 22 points off the bench.

“We played really hard but I think we’ve got to get a little smarter at times,” CSUN coach Mark Gottfried said. “We had some critical errors but our effort was there. We had some guys out and people stepped up. Atin stepped in there and had a phenomenal game, George (Nwogu) got a few minutes – he hadn’t played a whole lot.

“When Festus (Ndumanya) got in foul trouble that hurt us some. We’re still learning, we have to get better defensively, we have to get a little better at executing our offense and getting the right shot. There’s no way I could fault our effort, we just came up a little bit short.”

UP NEXT

Cal State Fullerton is scheduled to host Hawaii on Friday and Saturday, with both games at 3 p.m.

CSUN is scheduled to host UC Santa Barbara on Friday and Saturday, with both games at 4 p.m.

.@vincemikelee on the team win and his individual performance. #TusksUp pic.twitter.com/zwhcfIPKEA

— Titans Men’s Basketball (@FullertonMBB) January 18, 2021

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Lakers dismantle Pelicans in second half for fifth straight win

  • The Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma knocks a rebound away from the Pelicans’ Josh Hart during Friday’s game at Staples Center. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) moves the ball up court as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Montrezl Harrell (15) looks to pass as the Pelicans’ Nicolo Melli (20) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) looks to pass as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram (14) shoots as the Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) grabs a rebound away from the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) shoots over Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans offensive foul on Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • The Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram (14) fouls the Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) on his way to the hoop during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Montrezl Harrell (15) dunks the ball during their NBA game against the Pelicans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) shoots as Pelicans’ Nicolo Melli (20) and Eric Bledsoe (5) defend during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) shoots as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) blocks the shot of the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson (1) during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Dennis Schroder (17) dives for a loose ball as the Pelicans’ Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis shoots during Friday’s game against the Pelicans at Staples Center. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Dennis Schroder (17) passes the ball as the Pelicans’ Eric Bledsoe (5) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) passes the ball during their NBA game against the Pelicans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ LeBron James (23) wipes his face during their NBA game against the Pelicans at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) blocks the shot of the Pelicans’ Zion Williamson (1) during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Pelicans’ Nickeil Alexander-Walker (6) attempts to keep the ball inbounds as the Lakers’ LeBron James (23) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Pelicans’ Zion Williamson (1) dunks the ball during their NBA game against the Lakers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Lakers’ Anthony Davis (3) shoots a 3-point shot as the Pelicans’ Steven Adams (12) defends during their NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Friday, January 15, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Head coach Frank Vogel watches play against the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers keep the ball from Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans pivots around Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans scores on a layup during the first half against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans loses his dribble as Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers falls during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers scores over Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket past Eric Bledsoe #5 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers dives for the ball in front of Nickeil Alexander-Walker #6 of the New Orleans Pelicans and LeBron James #23 during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers scores in front of Nicolo Melli #20 and Nickeil Alexander-Walker #6 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Nickeil Alexander-Walker #6 of the New Orleans Pelicans dribbles in front of Dennis Schroder #17 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans is fouled by LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers as he drives on Markieff Morris #88 during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a play with Montrezl Harrell #15 and Dennis Schroder #17 during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a basket with Anthony Davis #3 and Alex Caruso #4 during the first half against the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) dunks during the first quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) deflects a shot by New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart (3) tries to take the ball from Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroeder, left, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram (14) reaches for a rebound between forward Zion Williamson (1) and Los Angeles Lakers center Marc Gasol, right, during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson, right, defends against Los Angeles Lakers guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope during the first quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James, top, and New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) air their differences during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli, left, and center Steven Adams (12) defend against Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers guard Dennis Schroeder, right, defends against New Orleans Pelicans guard Nickeil Alexander-Walker during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans guard Josh Hart (3) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis (3) shoots against New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) during the second quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers steals a pass at center court during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a three pointer from LeBron James #23 after a timeout during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrates a three pointer from LeBron James #23 during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks up at a replay during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans gets position in front of LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Montrezl Harrell #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers scores on a layup around Nicolo Melli #20 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers blocks the shot of Kira Lewis Jr. #13 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles in front of Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans attempts a shot in front of Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a 112-95 Los Angeles Lakers win at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives to the basket in front of Josh Hart #3 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers keep the ball from Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Brandon Ingram #14 of the New Orleans Pelicans passes in front of Anthony Davis #3 and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope #1 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the first half at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) dunks against New Orleans Pelicans forward Nicolo Melli, center, during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell dunks during the fourth quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the New Orleans Pelicans on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans guard Kira Lewis Jr. goes to the basket as Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (0) and center Montrezl Harrell (15) defend during the third quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans center Steven Adams (12) shoots over Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell (15) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson dunks during the third quarter of the team’s NBA basketball game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) shoots as Los Angeles Lakers center Montrezl Harrell (15) defends during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) defends against New Orleans Pelicans guard Kira Lewis Jr. (13) during the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game Friday, Jan. 15, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Head coach Frank Vogel of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts as LeBron James #23 leaves the game during a 112-95 Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers gives an interview after a 112-95 Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

  • LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 15: LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers gives an interview after a 112-95 Lakers win over the New Orleans Pelicans at Staples Center on January 15, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

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LOS ANGELES — The Lakers have looked a lot like frontrunners lately, riding a winning streak that saw them ring up several blowouts on the road. How, then, would they respond to a youthful team out-shooting them and out-defending them to take a 15-point lead?

With plenty of patience.

As the visiting New Orleans Pelicans got out to an explosive start at Staples Center on Friday night, the Lakers steadily hung in, then crept back – first in the margins, then finally, overwhelmingly in the third quarter when the dam broke with a 15-0 run on the way to a 112-95 victory, the Lakers’ fifth straight.

LeBron James (21 points), of course, provided the crowning moment of the rally with a highlight-reel putback dunk. The power in his legs still belies his 36 years, but the steadiness with which he and the Lakers (11-3) handled their upstart competitors and their young stars, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, spoke to how much experience separates these teams.

“There is no saving something for later in the season,” James laughed afterward. “My body’s ready to play whatever I need to play over the course of the game. I go hard when I’m out there and I start my treatment after the game. So, I wish I could bank time.”

The league-leading Lakers can certainly bank wins.

The Pelicans were rocked in the second half on every level, scoring just 37 points after halftime while finding their sturdy first-half defense torn apart: The Lakers’ passing prowess netted them 31 assists on 39 field goals on the night, led by James’ 11. Six Lakers scored in double figures, including Anthony Davis (17 points) and Montrezl Harrell (16 points).

From the 6:40 mark of the third quarter until there were 55 seconds remaining, New Orleans couldn’t score at all. The Lakers came out of a timeout with fadeaway shots from James and center Marc Gasol, and from then it was off to the races.

It looked different than the dominant three-game road trip when the Lakers hung big early leads on the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder. Davis said the team might have been dragging from getting back home, where they are just 4-3.

“It can kinda wear on you a little bit and get you off on a slow start,” he said. “We overcame it tonight.”

It was a dramatically different tone from the start of the night, when the Lakers were a Davis free throw shy of their lowest-scoring first quarter of the season. They missed seven of their first 24 shots, getting just 20 points.

On the other side of the ball, they held the wrecking ball-body of Williamson (21 points) in check with double-teams in the paint. They had fewer answers for Ingram, the former Laker, who diced them up from all over the floor with jumpers and drives. He scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half.

The Lakers began to turn things around in the second quarter at the free-throw line, warming up what had been cold hands. Davis found his stroke after missing eight of his first 10 attempts from the field, and between the stripe and a few jumpers, the former Pelican scored nine of the last 14 points of the first half.

Dennis Schröder hit a banked-in floater to cut the margin to a single point at halftime, despite the fact that New Orleans shot 61 percent in the first half to the Lakers’ 40 percent. But Coach Frank Vogel said it was Schröder’s steals in the second quarter that truly gave the team the spark.

“The fight that he showed picking up full court, getting those two turnovers, really creating some havoc for their offense, really positioned us to do what we did in the second half,” Vogel said. “It’s a one-point game at halftime; it could’ve been a 10-, 15-point differential.”

The shooting gap was almost completely made up in the Lakers’ advantages in the turnover margin (plus-11 at the half) and at the free-throw line (20 Laker attempts to three for the Pelicans). The Lakers wound up with 12 fewer turnovers and 15 more made free throws in the game.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (16 points) capped a strong week returning from injury with his best shot-making performance yet. Among his four 3-pointers on the evening, the third quarter saw him nail one while falling to the court, sealing his claim as the most reliable deep threat on the team. He moved up to ninth all-time in franchise history with 423 3-pointers as a Laker.

Still, on a team shooting the NBA’s third-best percentage from 3-point range (39.6 percent), there is competition. Kyle Kuzma hit three, Alex Caruso hit three, and James hit two. James might still have a case as the best overall shooter on the team, given he’s the only one regularly allowed to pull up from the logo.

“LeBron’s always gonna be up there because he shoots a ton of them, especially when he gets hot, and starts shooting halfcourt and things like that,” Davis said. “I don’t think Coach will maybe allow Kenny to do that.”

For now, the most compelling competition remains between the Lakers themselves –not against the rest of the league.

👑@KingJames powers the @Lakers to an NBA-best 11-3. #LakeShow

21 PTS | 8 REB | 11 AST pic.twitter.com/0RQX0hSNaN

— NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2021

LeBron 🔨 in #PhantomCam.

LAL/GSW ⏩ Mon. (1/18), 10pm/et, TNT pic.twitter.com/0Y8KzVpnKT

— NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2021

“My body is ready to play.”@KingJames on how he feels at age 36, playing limited minutes and the #Lakers performance down the stretch. pic.twitter.com/bVv5kECgKm

— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) January 16, 2021

🚫 AD says NO on ESPN! 🚫pic.twitter.com/jnULvJ9r3L

— NBA (@NBA) January 16, 2021

Read more about Lakers dismantle Pelicans in second half for fifth straight win This post was shared via Orange County Register’s RSS Feed

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Kings’ season opener spoiled by Wild’s Russian rookie

  • The Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov (97) gets the puck past Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) for the game winning goal in overtime during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. The Wild defeated the Kings 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Anze Kopitar (11) takes a shot during the Kings home opener against the Wild at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Austin Wagner (27) battles with he Wild’s Nico Sturm (7) during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Wild’s Matt Dumba (24) checks the Kings’ Austin Wagner (27) as the Wild’s Ryan Suter (20) moves in during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Jeff Carter (77) reacts after scoring a first period goal during their home opener against the Wild at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Jeff Carter (77) reacts after scoring a first period goal during their home opener against the Wild at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) keeps an eye on the puck during the Kings home opener against the Wild at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Wild’s Jonas Brodin (25) celebrates scoring a first period goal during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Mark Alt (5) and the Wild’s Jordan Greenway (18) battle for the puck during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Andreas Athanasiou (22) reacts after scoring a goal as the Wild’s Matt Dumba (24) and goalie Cam Talbot (33) look on in the second period during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Kings Drew Doughty (8) and Adrian Kempe (9) move the puck away from the Wild’s Marcus Johansson (90) during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Olli Maatta (6) and the Wild’s Marcus Johansson (90) battle for the puck during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • Kings players congratulate Adrian Kempe (9) after he scored a second period goal against the Wild during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Andreas Athanasiou (22) scores a goal as the Wild’s Matt Dumba (24) and goalie Cam Talbot (33) defend in the second period during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Wild’s Victor Rask (49) falls to the ice as the Kings’ Mikey Anderson (44) grabs the puck during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. The Wild defeated the Kings 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Kings’ Matt Roy (3) and the Wild’s Kevin Fiala (22) battle for the puck during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. The Wild defeated the Kings 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

  • The Wild’s Kirill Kaprizov (97) celebrates with teammates as Kings goalie Jonathan Quick (32) leaves the ice after Kaprizov scored the game winning goal in overtime during the Kings home opener at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Thursday, January 14, 2021. The Wild defeated the Kings 4-3 in overtime. (Photo by Hans Gutknecht, Los Angeles Daily News/SCNG)

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After 10 months off, a mere 60 minutes was not enough for the Kings.

Despite carrying a 3-1 lead into the third period, the Kings fell to the Minnesota Wild, 4-3, in overtime on Thursday night inside an empty Staples Center.

“It was certainly not the outcome we wanted, especially being up 3-1 after the second,” Kings center and team captain Anze Kopitar said.

The Kings and Wild were teams who were just figuring it out when play was suspended in March. The Wild made a playoff push after a dismal start – and got reinforcements this offseason – and the Kings were seeking their eighth consecutive win Thursday, 10 months after they notched No. 7 to end last season.

Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick lost on opening night for the eighth time after getting his 12th season-opening nod, making 23 of 27 saves. Cam Talbot, whom Minnesota signed as a free agent this offseason, denied 31 of 34 Kings shots.

It was a rookie, Minnesota winger Karill Kaprizov, who stole the show with two assists, the game-winning goal and a fistful of hold-your-breath moments over the course of 63 minutes.

Forward Jeff Carter notched a goal and an assist for the Kings, and wingers Andreas Athanasiou and Dustin Brown also scored. Anze Kopitar added two assists. Defensemen Jonas Brodin, center Victor Rask and forward Marcus Foligno scored for the Wild.

Carter factored into tying and go-ahead goals in the first 40 minutes of Thursday’s game. He scored the equalizer with just more than one second left in the first period, sneaking in a rebound from a faceoff that Kopitar won forward and into the Minnesota goal crease.

“I did tell Carts to go to the front somewhat, to see if something happens, and it turned out pretty well,” Kopitar said when asked if it was a set play.

Later, Carter generated a rebound with a shot off the rush that Athanasiou popped in off a set play to break a 1-1 tie in the second period.

Athanasiou made his Kings debut; he was signed in the offseason after five NHL seasons primarily spent with the Detroit Red Wings.

On Wednesday, Kings general manager Rob Blake singled out Carter as having benefited from the 10-month layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic and delayed postseason.

“Carts has been good all training camp, finally healthy,” Coach Todd McLellan said, adding that the “speed factor” of a fresh-legged Carter and Athanasiou could elevate the Kings’ gritty offense.

Late in the second period, the Kings scored their first power-play goal of the season. Brown received the puck down low and turned it back toward the net from behind the goal. The puck redirected in off a Wild defender. Brown’s 300th career goal extended the Kings’ lead to 3-1 with 2:55 left in the second period.

Not only did the Kings convert one of their four power plays, they killed all six man-advantage opportunities for the Wild.

But the Wild were not without a spark, mainly in the form of rookie winger Kirill Kaprizov. While No. 1 overall draft pick Alexis Lafreniere turned in an unremarkable debut for the Rangers, the 23-year-old Russian phenom Kaprizov recorded the primary assists on Minnesota’s first two goals

On the first, he made a long reception in stride near the boards, cut inward and drew three Kings defenders. When he lost control of the puck, it went to Brodin for a clean shot that opened the scoring in the game. In the third period, he sucked in the defense again and sent a pass high to Rask for a goal from the point.

Later in the third, he nearly factored into a third when forward Kevin Fiala nailed the post after a passing sequence initiated by Kaprizov in the third period and defenseman Jared Spurgeon did the same in overtime.

The flash and perspicacity of Kaprizov were complemented by a Minnesota checking line with Foligno and Jordan Greenway on the wings. Foligno’s heavy fore-checking started a series of events that culminated in his game-tying goal midway through the final frame.

It was the young Russian’s night as he collected a neutral-zone turnover and glided in on goal. As he transitioned from backhand to forehand, the puck banked off his skate and past Quick for the game-winner.

“Minnesota’s lucky to have a talented player like that,” McLellan said. “The NHL is fortunate to have him because he looks like he’s going to be a tremendous one.”

FEELIN’ THE FLOW! IT’S JEFF CARTER WITH THE FIRST KINGS GOAL OF THE SEASON! 🚨#GoKingsGo | @LAKings pic.twitter.com/USwMu1KDYt

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

WELCOME TO LA, ANDREAS ATHANASIOU! 🤩@LAKings | #GoKingsGo pic.twitter.com/P19aSlMnMH

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

“There’s a lot of things we did well, things we can build off of… and certainly areas that we have to clean up.”

Hear from @LAKings Coach Todd McLellan following tonight’s season opener. pic.twitter.com/kzvktrudlw

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

“I felt good… I felt ready.”

Anze Kopitar discusses tonight’s season-opening OT loss to the Wild.@LAKings pic.twitter.com/86VAFtV61t

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

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Ducks sputter early and late in season-opening loss to Golden Knights

  • The Ducks’ Hampus Lindholm skates with the puck as the Golden Knights’ Nicolas Roy pursues during the second period of their season opener on Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Josh Manson #42 of the Anaheim Ducks skates with the puck against Reilly Smith #19 of the Vegas Golden Knights in the first period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • Anaheim Ducks left wing Max Comtois (53) looks up at center Sam Steel (23) after scoring against the Vegas Golden Knights during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Max Comtois #53 of the Anaheim Ducks slides into Robin Lehner #90 of the Vegas Golden Knights after scoring the first of his two goals in the first period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Mark Stone #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck against Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the Anaheim Ducks in the second period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks blocks a shot in front of Mark Stone #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights in the second period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) celebrates with teammates after the team’s win over the Anaheim Ducks in an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Vegas Golden Knights left wing Tomas Nosek (92) is congratulated after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Anaheim Ducks center Sam Steel (23) and Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb reach for the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: William Karlsson #71 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck ahead of Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the Anaheim Ducks in the second period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Max Pacioretty #67 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck ahead of Josh Manson #42 and Cam Fowler #4 of the Anaheim Ducks as Chandler Stephenson #20 of the Golden Knights trails the play in the second period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Robin Lehner #90 of the Vegas Golden Knights takes a break during a stop in play in the first period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud (2) shoots as Anaheim Ducks’ Hampus Lindholm (47) defends during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Vegas Golden Knights left wing Max Pacioretty (67) is congratulated by teammates after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Vegas Golden Knights center Nicolas Roy (10) congratulates right wing Alex Tuch (89) after his empty-net goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson (71) moves in on Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Anaheim Ducks left wing Danton Heinen (43) shoots as Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner (90) defends during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Vegas Golden Knights right wing Alex Tuch (89) and Anaheim Ducks left wing Nicolas Deslauriers (20) reach for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Anaheim Ducks left wing Max Comtois (53) reacts after scoring against the Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner (90) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) blocks a shot as Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) looks for the rebound during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Robin Lehner #90 of the Vegas Golden Knights blocks a shot in front of Sam Steel #23 of the Anaheim Ducks in the third period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights defeated the Ducks 5-3. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Mark Stone #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights waves to an empty arena after being named the first star of the game following the team’s 5-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Games at the arena are being played without fans in attendance because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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An empty arena and an elite opponent awaited the Ducks when they returned to the ice for the first time in more than 10 months because of the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena. In the opening minutes, they looked exactly like a confused team that hadn’t played in 309 days.

The Ducks gave up two goals in the first 2 minutes, 13 seconds.

Uh-oh.

Matters would improve, but not enough to produce a victory for the Ducks, who dropped a 5-2 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights in their coronavirus-delayed season opener. The Ducks certainly had their moments, especially during an excellent second period, but not enough of them to win.

Mark Stone scored the tiebreaking goal 49 seconds into the third period, converting from the slot off a pass from below the goal line from Vegas teammate Chandler Stephenson to give the Golden Knights a 3-2 lead. Max Comtois had scored twice to rally the Ducks to a 2-2 tie in the first.

Stone then set up Max Pacioretty’s goal that made it 4-2 at 10:59 of the third.

Alex Tuch scored an empty-net goal with 14 seconds left for Vegas.

“We didn’t hang our heads when we got down early,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said, ticking off a list of positive developments in their first game since March 11. “We were able to battle back and get back in the game. I thought (Sam) Steel and Comtois and (Troy) Terry were real solid overall.

“I thought our second period was a real good one overall for us. So, there were some good things, but in the end, it’s about the two points and there’s a few things we’ve got to clean up.”

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk made his Ducks debut after signing a three-year, $11.7-million contract after helping to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup championship this past fall. Shattenkirk played a team-leading 23:55, had three shots on goal and a minus-1 defensive rating.

“Our response in the first period was great, the way we just took a deep breath,” Shattenkirk said. “We realized it was the first game of the year, no exhibition games, there’s going to be some mistakes made and they capitalized on them, but we did the same thing to them.”

John Gibson made 24 saves, including two on breakaways by Pacioretty. The Ducks didn’t give him much help in the opening minutes as they fell behind 2-0 less than three minutes into the game. He blanked the Golden Knights for the rest of the first period and all of the second.

“He made some big saves for us,” Eakins said. “Las Vegas likes to really make those quick-strike plays from below the goal line, but overall, I thought ‘Gibby’ was good.”

A mistake-filled first 10 minutes might have been excused since the Ducks and Golden Knights had short training camps and didn’t play exhibition games to work out the rough edges, and there were plenty of them as the teams went on a scoring spree.

Jonathan Marchessault split Ducks defensemen Jacob Larsson and Jani Hakanpaa, their new third pair, and beat Gibson with a perfect shot over his left shoulder only 1:07 into the game. Tomas Nosek then made it 2-0 for Vegas from close range at 2:13.

Normally, a start like that would have had fans in T-Mobile Arena screaming for more, but the only sounds came from the Golden Knights’ bench, and even that was muted. Slowly but certainly, the Ducks regrouped and rallied to tie the score at 2-2 on the goals from Comtois.

Then again, maybe it wasn’t all that slowly.

Steel set up the first of Comtois’ goals with an alert pass to the front of the net at 4:22. Ryan Getzlaf set up the second with some hard work to pry the puck loose from Vegas defenseman Zach Whitecloud. He then fed a cross-crease pass to an unmarked Comtois for the tying goal at 7:58.

The teams settled down for the rest of the first period and they were deadlocked, 2-2.

It stayed that way until Vegas scored three times in the decisive third period.

“As the game went on we tried to be aggressive and play our game and we forgot sometimes to cover our ‘D’ and we got bit with two goals and the empty-netter and that’s how it went,” Comtois said. “We’ve got to go back to the video room and see what went good and what went wrong.

“We know we can play with those guys. We saw it in the first and the second.”

The Ducks get another crack at the Golden Knights on Saturday in Las Vegas.

NOTES

Comtois’ goals, both in the first 7:58 of the game, marked the fastest two goals by an NHL player to start a season in more than 15 years. The last NHL player to score two goals in the first eight minutes of a season was the Kings’ Jeremy Roenick, who scored two goals in the first 4:18 on Oct. 5, 2005, in Dallas. … The Golden Knights improved to 9-2-2 against the Ducks since they entered the league in 2017. … The Ducks had won three straight season openers.

Give the kid another!!@comtois20 roofs a sweet pass from Getzlaf for his 2nd goal of the period!@AnaheimDucks | #FlyTogether pic.twitter.com/Moy4IFjwuY

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

“We’re a very tough team to play against, we just weren’t able to stick with it there and do it in the third period to keep that game close.”@AlysonLozoff sits down with Kevin Shattenkirk to discuss his first night with the @AnaheimDucks pic.twitter.com/4lnOccmi7M

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

.@AnaheimDucks head coach Dallas Eakins goes over tonight’s season opener.#FlyTogether pic.twitter.com/hmXCL6euS7

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

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