Swede Adrian Kempe scored twice as the Los Angeles Kings wrapped up the National Hockey League’s historic tour of Australia with a 3-2 pre-season victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday.
The Kings, who crashed in the first round of last season’s playoffs, were scoreless in the opening two periods before finishing strongly at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena.
The Coyotes beat the Kings 5-3 at the same venue on Saturday in the NHL’s first foray into the Southern Hemisphere.
Ice hockey is popular in North America and parts of Europe but is mostly a niche sport elsewhere and the NHL is attempting to expand its global footprint.
The pre-season event attracted near sellouts with more than 26,000 fans attending the two games at Rod Laver Arena, which is better known for the annual Australian Open tennis grand slam.
“I’m happy we came back and won the game. We have high expectations this season,” Kempe said.
“It’s been awesome to promote the league in a new country. Both teams enjoyed the week.”
The Kings dominated the early exchanges but were unable to get past goalie Karel Vejmelka.
The Coyotes drew first blood against the run of play after 11 minutes through Barrett Hayton, who scored the sealer on Saturday, in the only goal of the opening two periods.
A stalemate ensued in the second before a scuffle broke out between multiple players.
The Kings finally hit the scoreboard early in the third period when Kempe scored from close range.
The Melbourne tour marks the fifth edition of the NHL’s Global Series, where games are staged outside North America, but the first to be held beyond Europe.
The Coyotes and the Kings will continue their pre-season preparations in Las Vegas before the start of the NHL regular season on October 10.
Source: Yahoo Sports