Politics
As he investigates Trump's aides, special counsel's record shows surprising flaws
Column

Kings' Marian Gaborik, Anze Kopitar pick up rhythm on offense

In the early weeks of this season, while Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik couldn't find the net, the line of Milan Lucic, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli carried the Kings' offense.

With the Carter line's production slowing recently, Gaborik and Kopitar have picked up the slack. Gaborik has scored three of his five goals this season in the last four games and has an assist and a plus-three defensive rating in that span, earning praise Friday from Coach Darryl Sutter.

"Yeah, he's moving good. He's getting in those areas where he's got to get to, to score," Sutter said after the Kings practiced for Saturday's game against Pittsburgh at Staples Center. "I think he's a little more efficient."

Gaborik, who has scored 30 or more goals seven times in his career and had 27 last season, said he has been trying to fulfill the defensive responsibilities Sutter requires of every forward. But he has been able to ratchet up his scoring thanks to feeling a stronger connection with Kopitar. The two have skated together most of the time since the Kings acquired Gaborik from Columbus in March of 2014, and at times their chemistry has been dazzling.

"It hasn't been there consistently, but hopefully we can keep building on some games we've had here lately and just go from there," Gaborik said. "We just have to help each other out there, stay close to each other, do those little give-and-go plays. Teams are maybe more aware of what we had going together and just overall, it's hard to score in this league.

"We have to push for it and work hard for every single chance we have and we've just got to do that consistently."

Kopitar has always maintained their partnership could be even more productive. "We're getting there," Kopitar said. "I think it's safe to say that we didn't have quite the connection before, where none of us were really scoring or putting points up. There's no secret to it. I think we turned the corner and now we've got to keep pace."

Tanner Pearson, who has completed that trio on the left side the past few weeks, has brought an element Gaborik likes. "The line's changed quite a bit, but lately we've been having some good looks there with Pearson," Gaborik said. "He's got a lot of speed. He's good on the forecheck. He seems to be a good fit there, but the lines change all the time and we've just got to stay consistent."

Greene recuperates

Defenseman Matt Greene, who underwent shoulder surgery Thursday, was home resting Friday. "They knew the procedure they had to do… It will be a while. Long term," Sutter said.

He also said forward Trevor Lewis missed most of Friday's practice after being "dinged up." However, Sutter said he didn't know if Lewis will be available Saturday.

NEXT UP

KINGS VS. PITTSBURGH

When: Saturday, 1 p.m.

On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 790.

Update: The Penguins last played Tuesday, a 5-1 victory at San Jose. Defenseman Olli Maatta might return after missing six games because of an upper-body injury. Winger Pascal Dupuis, who has a history of blood clots in his leg, returned to practice Thursday after leaving Tuesday's game early. The Kings have played beyond regulation in three straight games, losing a shootout and winning the last two in overtime.

Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen

Copyright © 2017, Los Angeles Times
A version of this article appeared in print on December 05, 2015, in the Sports section of the Los Angeles Times with the headline "Gaborik, Kopitar find their rhythm on offense - KINGS REPORT" — Today's paperToday's paper | Subscribe
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
66°