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Kings' Drew Doughty doesn't doubt himself

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, left, celebrates

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty, left, celebrates his goal with left wing Kyle Clifford during the second period of Game 1 in the Stanley Cup Final against the Rangers on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, in Los Angeles. Credit: AP / Jae C. Hong

LOS ANGELES - Drew Doughty is only 24, so he still has time to achieve his remaining goals, among them one he shared on Stanley Cup Final media day Tuesday: "I want to be the best defenseman in the world.''

But in the meantime there is a second Stanley Cup to seek, and as is usually the case with the young Kings star, he made it clear from the start of this year's Final he will be in the middle of the drama -- pro and con.

In the Kings' 3-2, overtime victory in Game 1 on Wednesday night, it began with him coughing up the puck to the Rangers' Benoit Pouliot, who scored the first goal of the series unassisted on the ensuing breakaway.

"Bad turnover,'' Doughty said later, confirming the obvious.

But come the second period, it was Doughty who barreled down the slot, found a sliver of space and snuck the puck off Henrik Lundqvist's arm to tie the score at 2. He celebrated by pounding the glass behind the goal.

"Just lucky to sneak one past Lundqvist there,'' he said.

Does he find he is energized by trying to make up for a mess-up, especially one as colossal as the early turnover?

"I think I do,'' he said. "When I get angry I kind of turn it on. I try to throw my emotions in the right way. Sometimes I don't.''

Teammate Willie Mitchell marveled at the skill level involved in Doughty's goal.

"I've said it a lot of times: There are very few defensemen in the league who can skate sideways, and if you watch that goal he was pretty much skating sideways to make his little shuffle there,'' Mitchell said.

"We're fortunate enough to have a player of that magnitude who can do that, and we needed to do that to kind of get us back into the game after the stuff early on.''

Doughty's goal gave him 17 points in these playoffs -- five goals and 12 assists -- a team record for one postseason.

But that hardly was the end of his evening.

As the second period ended, he screamed long and loudly at the referees for failing to call a penalty on what he seemed to think was a butt end against him.

"I didn't really control my emotions too well at that point,'' he said. "It's just part of the game. Stuff happens by accident and it's just heat of the moment.''

Then, in the third, he got whistled for embellishment for falling spectacularly to the ice.

It seems it's always something with Doughty, a dynamic player and personality who said before Game 1 that he wants to build upon a reputation he established during a stellar series against the Devils in the 2012 Final: as a big-time player at big moments.

"I just go out there and play and at the end of the day people will judge me not by how many Norris Trophies I win, if I win any at all, but how many Stanley Cups I win,'' he said Tuesday.

That's good to hear for Kings fans, but Doughty's stature is such that he is trying to embrace other elements of his role, and that includes maturity and leadership.

Neither initially came easily to him.

"I've become a lot better off the ice,'' he said. "I'm more of a leader now from the experience I've got. I want to channel that energy in the right way.''

Doughty said the defensemen he admires most are Duncan Keith, Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber, who just happen to be this year's Norris finalists.

"Those three guys play both ways, play all situations,'' he said. "I want to be a player like them.''

Doughty is one of the most quotable Kings, with a style all his own.

The words coming out of his mouth often are confident, bordering on cocky. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as long as he keeps delivering.

New York Sports