Anze Kopitar, Michael Amadio score two each in Kings’ 4-2 win over Sabres
The bad karma cleared. All the old hexes were swept out of the building.
Actually, not really, by the way the Kings talked about ending a 15-year losing streak in Buffalo. Although Anze Kopitar’s chuckle said a lot about a 4-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres.
“It feels good,” Kopitar said. “I don’t think we were worried about the 15-year drought in here, but we had a three-game slide that we certainly wanted to stop. I thought today we came and we were ready to play.”
Kopitar and Michael Amadio aired all the vibes out of KeyBank Center with two goals apiece in a Saturday matinee, and Alex Iafallo celebrated a festive return with an assist. The Kings scored on three straight shots in the second period and held on with their fingernails in the third to end a three-game losing streak and eight-game winless string at Buffalo, dating to Feb.21, 2003 (Zigmund Palffy, anyone?).
Amadio couldn’t recall where he was for that.
“I don’t know, I was only 6,” Amadio said. “I was probably on the outdoor rink in my hometown.”
The streak carried heavy baggage. The Kings’ loss here last season prompted Jeff Carter to label them “a fragile team.” And in this arena in 2013, Jonathan Quick suffered a major groin strain.
Asked whether he felt like demons got chased out, Kings coach John Stevens said, “Maybe for you guys,” in reference to the media. “But this group had never played in here together. So for us, it was time to win. I think that was an added bonus for the organization.”
The signs were evident during warmups. Specifically, a fan held up a Slovenian flag for Kopitar’s country, and Iafallo, from nearby Eden, N.Y., had a large contingency that included former high school teachers who held up a sign that read, “Eden [Loves] Iafallo.”
“I didn’t expect it was going to be that big,” Iafallo said of his fan base. “I always saw new faces every time I looked in the crowd. It’s a very special feeling.”
Cheers were audible when Iafallo’s name was announced for his assist on Kopitar’s second goal, a pass from behind the net to make it 3-0.
“My buddies [were] in the corner, right by the Zamboni door,” Iafallo said. “I just kind of looked at them for a second.”
Amadio’s first goal marked the first time on this trip the Kings scored first. He took a backhand pass from Andy Andreoff and made a quick shot from a tight angle that slipped under goalie Robin Lehner. Amadio beat Lehner again with a cut to the middle for a shot in the high slot to give the Kings a 4-0 lead that led to boos from the crowd of 18,632 at second intermission.
Amadio, Andreoff and Jonny Brodzinski combined for four points.
“It’s definitely a great confidence boost for our line to contribute two goals there,” Amadio said. “It was a great pass by Andy on the first goal and a great pass by ‘Brods’ on the second one.”
Kopitar gave Sabres fans an up-close look at one of the best two-way centers in the league. He converted a two-on-one with Dustin Brown with a backhand for his first goal and won 52% of faceoffs, often against Ryan O’Reilly, who led the NHL in faceoff wins.
Stevens was blunt about Kopitar’s leadership.
“If you’re building a team, you want him on it,” he said.
Go beyond the scoreboard
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