A few days ago, Los Angeles Kings emergency goaltender Manny Legace was playing for the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the IHL.
In his first NHL start Wednesday night, Legace stopped 49 shots in leading Los Angeles to a 1-1 tie with the Florida Panthers.
"I had to get the butterflies out of my system at the start," said Legace, 25, a former Hartford Whalers farmhand. "I didn't want to fall on my face."
He did flop all evening, but not on his face, as he made saves from every possible position.
"I played OK but the guys in front of me made it easy," Legace said of his defensemen. "I saw every puck."
The Panthers extended their unbeaten start to 2-0-2.
The Panthers outshot the Kings 29-9 after two periods and 50-19 overall. Florida's 50 shots were just two shy of its club-record 52, set against the Kings in 1993.
With 1:21 left in overtime, Kirk Muller checked Yanic Perreault into the boards, causing the plexiglass to shatter and delaying the game for 20 minutes.
The Panthers ended Legace's shutout hopes 43 seconds into the second period when Dave Gagner swatted in a rebound for his first goal of the season. With the teams skating 4-on-4, Ray Whitney centered a pass to Gord Murphy in the slot. Legace stopped Murphy's point-blank shot, but not Gagner's followup for a 1-1 tie.
"He didn't have to make a lot of tough saves until the end when he made a glove save to prserve the tie," Gagner said. "Our game plan was to get a lot of rebounds and cause problems but their defense did a good job."
Just 27 seconds after a Panthers power play, the Kings took a 1-0 lead when Luc Robitaille skated behind the net and put a wraparound past Sean Burke at 5:34 of the first period. Ray Ferraro and Rob Blake received assists on Robitaille's third goal of the season.
The Kings nearly took the lead while on a power play at 12:00 of the third period. Perreault was camped in front of the goal where he had a wide-open net, but his shot was stopped by diving Panthers defenseman Jaroslav Spacek.
"He was bombarded with a lot of shots," Kings coach Larry Robinson said. "He did a great job of keeping us in the game. He impressed me tonight."
Panthers goaltender Sean Burke, a former roommate of Legace's at Hartford, had 18 saves.
Legace stymied rookie Oleg Kvasha with 1:44 left, when he made a stunning glove save on a wrist shot from the slot.
Despite having a two-man advantage for 46 seconds in the first period, the Panthers were unable to score.
The Panthers have never lost to the Kings at home (2-0-3).
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