From the day the wing
Yet, even as they piled up points, Kopitar continued to insist their connection and timing were good, but not great.
"Sometimes little plays that you don't really notice, you can make it sharper, make it quicker," Kopitar said. "In that regard we can be better. I guess on the score sheet tonight it was fairly OK."
If Gaborik's performance Saturday in converting setups from Kopitar to score the tying and winning goals in the Kings' 3-2 overtime victory over the
Think back, too, to
Gaborik, 32, filled a scoring need for the Kings at the relatively cheap price of little-used forward
But they're doing their best to prolong their season and delay his decision, first by rebounding from a 3-0 series deficit to defeat the
That should accelerate any last remaining adjustments for him to completely fit in.
"I'm glad to be here, of course," he said. "This team has a lot of system plays that are working for us so far and has been since they won a Cup. This team has been a contender for the past few years and I'm just glad to be part of it. I just have to keep going."
The Kings were able to keep going after their emotional victory over the Sharks by putting it behind them, for now. Later, depending on how long this playoff road winds into May and June, they can look back and savor it. On Saturday, facing a hostile crowd at
They weren't, at least not at first. They went 17 minutes without a shot from midway in the first period until deep into the second period, but somehow they found the physical and mental strength to mount yet another comeback.
"We put that series behind us. We just had to focus and prepare for this series," Gaborik said. "We weren't sharp in some parts of the game. We gave them some odd-man rushes and turned some pucks over, but we came back and it was a very important win for us. We just have to regroup and come back in Game 2."
He spoke softly, almost unemotionally, but Kopitar smiled broadly enough for both of them in discussing what he has learned about Gaborik since the right wing became his teammate.
"I knew he was really fast. I knew he had a ton of offensive ability. I wasn't sure he could shoot the puck as hard as he can, but he definitely surprised me with that," Kopitar said. "It's a good fit for this team."
There's that word again — fit.
"We never really had a left shot with that scoring ability. It's great," Kopitar said. "I guess it's a little bit of versatility when we're on the ice. A few more threats usually doesn't hurt."
A few scoring threats and a lot of goals from Gaborik can only help keep the Kings moving along.