Saturday night at Staples Center *

Gustavo Dudamel is making his long-awaited debut tonight at the Hollywood Bowl. The Dodgers are trying to avoid an epic collapse at the stadium. My choice of venues for tonight is the opening game of hockey season at Staples Center. Call me crazy (also...I didn't get a ticket for the Bowl.) Hundreds of fans wearing Kings jerseys have been milling around Downtown all afternoon, and partying at booths on the closed-down 11st Street waiting for the doors to open.

7:02 p.m.: The visiting Phoenix Coyotes took the ice for pre-game warmup as one of the most screwed-up teams in pro sports. The team is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Wayne Gretzky resigned as coach two weeks before the season began, and the team captain says, "Absolutely nobody knows what is going on." The Coyotes, of course, were booed when they hit the ice.

7:35 p.m.: The Kings players are introduced in a darkened arena, entering the ice through a mock-up of a castle gate. Before the intros, a stirring video on the big screen replayed big moments from the Kings' past, and I thought wow, have I really been coming to games since 1975?

7:53 p.m. The Kings are a young team that may or may not be on the rise. They are expected by their management to make the playoffs this season, but five minutes into the season the Coyotes score the first goal.

8:15 p.m. Coyotes score the second goal too. Coyotes suck! rises out of section 316, the nosebleed seats below the press box.

8:47 p.m. Getting ugly. The Coyotes have scored three unanswered goals.

8:51 p.m. All is forgiven by the sell-out (probably) crowd. Anze Kopitar puts the Kings on the board after a flurry of near misses on the power play. 3-1 Coyotes in the second period.

9:09 p.m. Uh-oh, 4-1 Coyotes. I'm in the press box section where scouts, part-time beat writers and bloggers congregate. Gann Matsuda, who has followed the team since 1973 and has a day job at UCLA, blogs for Frozen Royalty. Brian Kennedy, an English professor at Pasadena City College, covers the Kings for Inside Hockey. Rich Hammond, who's been getting so much media attention for jumping from the Daily News to blog directly for the Kings, is at the adults' table near the Times' Helene Elliott, the DN and AP.

9:13 p.m. Well, that's why they call it a game. Kings scored to make 4-2, with under a minute to play in the second period. The fans are back in the game.

9:25 p.m. At Dodger Stadium, there is no score with the Dodgers up in the 7th inning. (Check that: Belliard just drove in a run as a pinch hitter for the Dodgers.) I'll assume Dudamel hit a home run at the Bowl. And here, Phoenix scored 31 seconds into the 3rd period. Mood is turning dark in the upper level.

9:52 p.m. The Dodgers amassed a 5-0 lead in the 7th. We'll see what happens now. Here, the Kings just got on the board again. It's 6-3 Coyotes with 7:30 left.

10:05 p.m. OK, this one's over. If there's anything interesting from the locker rooms I'll post it. How do you explain a 6-3 loss on opening night? [You don't. "That's probably the worst scenario you could have on an opening night," coach Terry Murray said when he met the media after talking to Kings' players. "We looked very out of synch."] Video is from behind the scenes and the Kings locker room.


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