A few more takeaways after Tuesday night’s victory, before the Kings face the Islanders, traveling to the old barn, Nassau County Coliseum, for their last regular-season visit, on Thursday.
Back in the New York groove
Nothing quite like being in the New Jersey/New York area to lift the Kings’ spirits and level of play. They are on the verge of sweeping the three teams in the area, which would be a repeat of last season’s run here.
Of note: They arrived here last season facing a different kind of dire situation. It wasn’t playoff-related, of course, but it had to do with the immediate future of starting goalie Jonathan Quick. Quick hurt his groin in Buffalo and headed home to Los Angeles for more testing.
There were questions as to how they would fare without Quick. Goalie Ben Scrivens came in and won all three games, including back-to-back shutouts of the Devils and the Rangers.
This time, Quick and the Kings were coming off a disheartening loss to Vancouver on Saturday afternoon, losing ground in the playoff race. But they responded with wins on back-to-back nights and the Kings pulled even in points with Calgary for third in the Pacific Division. The Flames are ahead by virtue of the tiebreaker.
MVK … Most Valuable Kopitar
Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky has often talked about Kings center Anze Kopitar in glowing terms, putting Kopitar in the best-in-hockey conversation, right behind the likes of Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks.
Kopitar has stepped up on the trip with five points in two nights, including four assists. He had a hand in every goal in the victory against the Devils and his linemate, Marian Gaborik (who had the go-ahead goal against his former team, the Rangers) marveled at Kopitar’s playmaking.
“His possession game is great and he’s making plays,” Gaborik said. “He’s good in all three zones. Again, a great pass to me there and a great pass to Muzz (Jake Muzzin).”
The Elias Sports Bureau crunched the numbers and noted that Kopitar, who had just seven assists in his first 28 games, has recorded 37 assists in the next 42.
The quick strike ability of Jeff Carter
Kings center Jeff Carter is like one of those star soccer strikers in Europe, largely unnoticed for close to 85 minutes, in an important derby match.
Then in the 89th minute, it’s all over with a quick flick.
Carter didn’t need that long against the Rangers but scored what turned out to be the game-winner at 1:05 of the third period, needing an instant in front to redirect it, off a slick set-up from Dwight King on the left wing.
For Carter, it was his fifth game-winning goal of the season. At 26 goals, he is one shy of last year’s total. The last time Carter had a 30-plus goal season was in 2010-11 with the Flyers when he scored 36 goals.