What, he was asked, can he learn from the struggles he experienced during the nightmare that was his 2016-17 season? His answer was curt.
"Can we stop talking about last year at some point?" he said.
Tuesday night was that point.
Kopitar set up
On that fourth goal Kopitar won a faceoff and got the puck to Gaborik, whose shot went off the stick of defenseman Matt Dumba and past goaltender
The Slovenian center now has a team-leading 15 goals and team-best 34 points in 29 games; he had merely 12 goals and 52 points in 76 games last season, the first time in 10 seasons that he was not the Kings' top scorer.
The Kings' biggest problem once they overcame a sleepy first period was how Kopitar and Gaborik would share the puck that produced their simultaneously memorable moment. But that dilemma was solved quickly.
“I told them I’d take it,” said coach John Stevens, who moved Gaborik up to the top line with Kopitar and
“I’m happy for those guys,” said Stevens, who scored no goals in his 53-game
Kopitar and Gaborik, 35, had played together before, and their chemistry was obvious as soon as they were reunited Tuesday.
"You give him the puck in the areas that he needs them to score, more often than not he's going to put it in," Kopitar said. "And that's what we're going to need from him going forward, too."
The Wild had scored first, at 10 minutes 30 seconds of the second period, when defenseman
Minnesota came back to regain the lead at 15:34 after
"The third period was huge for us," said Gaborik, who began his NHL career with Minnesota. "We were more desperate. We tried to create more energy within our group and tried to play more in their zone and just desperation."
That paid off when Gaborik finished off a two on one with Kopitar and tied it at 4:35. The Kings got a lucky bounce when Kempe’s centering pass caromed off defenseman
Kopitar sealed it with the empty-netter with 56 seconds left, giving the announced sellout crowd more reason to celebrate.
"I'm very proud of it," Gaborik said of his 400 goals. "Congrats to Kopi for his 500th assist. It's kind of ironic he gets it on my 400th goal and it's against my former team as well."