In the early weeks of this season, while
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
"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."
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
KINGS VS. PITTSBURGH
When: Saturday, 1 p.m.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 790.