Kings’ Anze Kopitar makes most of playing time with All-Star linemate Loui Eriksson
Kings center Anze Kopitar looked comfortable playing alongside left wing Loui Eriksson for Team Lidstrom in the NHL All-Star game Sunday, combining with Eriksson on a two-on-none break that produced one of Kopitar’s two goals and one of Eriksson’s four points.
The Kings have tried nearly a dozen left wings on Kopitar’s line this season and haven’t found anyone whose speed and skills mesh with Kopitar’s strengths. Just think if Kopitar, who took home an autographed jersey and stick, could have taken Eriksson home with him instead.
“Let’s not go there,” Kopitar said when the suggestion was brought up after Team Lidstrom’s 11-10 victory over Team Staal at the RBC Center.
It was fun while it lasted for Kopitar, the Kings’ lone All-Star representative. Kopitar, who also centered for Matt Duchene and Phil Kessel in configurations that changed even more often than Kings Coach Terry Murray mixes up his lines, played 16 minutes 10 seconds and was plus-two defensively.
“You just put the guys on the ice together and always something special happens. There was a lot of skill out there,” he said. “I thought the fans had fun, and that’s pretty much what you want.”
Kopitar also would like to see his goal-scoring knack continue when the Kings resume their season Tuesday at Minnesota.
“That would be nice,” said Kopitar, who scored one goal in the 16 games leading up to the break and two in his previous 21 games.
The Ducks had two players in Sunday’s game in addition to sending rookie Cam Fowler to Saturday’s skills competition. Right wing Corey Perry, who played for Team Staal, and goaltender Jonas Hiller, who played for Team Lidstrom, acquitted themselves well Sunday, with Perry contributing two assists and Hiller stopping 15 of 17 shots in the second period.
In a game played as loosely as this one was — there were no hits and no penalties — giving up two goals is exceptional. Starters Cam Ward (Team Staal) and Marc-Andre Fleury each gave up four on 14 shots. Carey Price gave up three on 16 shots in the second period. Henrik Lundqvist (Team Staal) gave up three goals on 14 shots in the third period, while winning goalie Tim Thomas gave up four goals on 15 shots.
“We won my period, so it was good,” an elated Hiller said. “It was great fun. Also, I liked being on the bench with all those guys. I was definitely enjoying it a lot.”
Perry played most often with left wing Rick Nash of Columbus and center Eric Staal of Carolina.
“I played with two great linemates, two good guys I’ve known for a while. It was nice to get back together with them,” Perry said.
He also said he liked the new format for the game. Players were drafted by the respective team captains instead of being divided on the basis of East vs. West.
“I think it was pretty good. All in all, it was a great weekend. I think the guys enjoyed it,” Perry said. “The guys enjoyed playing with different guys and I thought from the draft to the skills to the game, everything went well.”
Seeing Hiller face 17 shots in one period was nothing new for Perry, since the Ducks have allowed opponents to take a league-high average of 34.4 shots each game.
“He’s been there for us all year and he played well today,” Perry said.
Hiller played so well that Perry, who scored on him in Saturday’s skills contests, couldn’t beat him Sunday.
“I got a couple shots on him, but he did make a few saves,” Perry said. “I’ve got to tip my cap to him.”
The total of 21 goals was the fourth highest in All-Star game history. The record is 26 in 2001, when Team North America beat a World team, 14-12, at Denver. …
Only two skaters on Team Lidstrom did not record a point: forward Phil Kessel — the last player drafted Friday — and defenseman Keith Yandle. Team Staal had three scoreless players: center Ryan Kesler and defensemen Marc Staal and Erik Karlsson. …
Team Lidstrom’s comeback from a 4-0 deficit in the first period was the biggest in All-Star game history. The largest deficit previously overcome was three, by the North American team against the World team in 1998 at Vancouver. …
Nicklas Lidstrom’s plus-seven defensive rating was the best in an All-Star game since Adam Oates was plus-seven for the Campbell Conference in an 11-5 win over the Wales Conference in 1991 at Chicago.
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