Young Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty was inspired by the end-to-end charges of former New Jersey Devils standout defender Scott Niedermayer, and on Saturday he emulated his idol in Game Two of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The 22-year-old Doughty scored a brilliant goal that helped Los Angeles to a 2-1 overtime win over the Devils and gave the Kings a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven championship series.
Doughty, the second overall pick of the 2008 NHL Draft, skated down the middle of the ice on New Jersey Devils netminder Martin Brodeur in the first period and wristed a sizzler over the goalie's right shoulder for the Kings' first goal.
"I actually remember Niedermayer when he played in New Jersey having a couple end-to-enders," Doughty told reporters.
"He was an unbelievable player here. I always wanted to emulate him. He always scored some highlight goals that I remember."
It was the third goal of the playoffs for Doughty, who added more evidence to those who have predicted greatness for him.
Veteran Los Angeles right winger Dustin Penner said Doughty has improved and embraced the pressure put on him as a budding star after signing a big-money deal.
"He's really elevated his game, it's a credit to him," Penner told reporters by his locker. "He's matured as a player and a person throughout the year.
"For a young guy, getting a big contract, you're not just the young guy anymore where everyone's happy that you're playing well.
"Now it's you better play well, because you have to justify the contract. Once he got accustomed to that pressure he used it in a positive way and you could see him start to excel every day. The goal today was one of those wild moments."
Doughty said that the Kings were eager to get back to Los Angeles, where they have a chance to complete a sweep of the series but that the team would not get ahead of themselves.
"I think we have to reset, refocus," he said. "We have to go back to L.A. as if the series is just starting. We have home-ice advantage and have to take the first two at home.
"We're happy that we got the first two. But going home on the plane tonight, we're trying to forget about those games."
Penner said the Kings would maintain the same approach that has carried them to a phenomenal 14-2 mark this postseason.
"We've been building confidence since Game One," Penner said. "I think it was a big step for us when we went into Vancouver and beat them the first game.
"It's a snowball effect and we just keeping adding more snow after each win."
(Editing by John O'Brien)