Kings, Anze Kopitar put first things first to beat Winnipeg, 4-1

Kings, Anze Kopitar put first things first to beat Winnipeg, 4-1
Kings center Jeff Carter, right, celebrates with teammates Tyler Toffoli, center, and Slava Voynov after scoring a goal in Saturday's win over the Winnipeg Jets. (Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Kings Coach Darryl Sutter was talking about Anze Kopitar when he said the dynamic center could play better and would play better.

It took all of one day for the fast-forwarding Kopitar and the Kings.


Kopitar had plenty of company along for the ride in the Kings' 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night at Staples Center. It was the Kings' first win of the season as four players had multi-point games: forwards Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Jeff Carter and defenseman Drew Doughty.

The Pearson-Carter-Toffoli line led the way, combining for three goals and three assists. Goalie Martin Jones, making his first start of the season, seemed to pick up from where he left off last season, making 29 saves.

The kids and Carter were the Kings' best line in a 3-2 overtime loss to Arizona on Saturday. They managed to keep the pressure on against the Jets, unlike the previous night — another step in the right direction.

Pearson's unassisted effort made it 3-0 at 2:03 of the second period and caused the Jets to make a goalie switch, Ondrej Pavelec replacing starter Michael Hutchinson, who allowed three goals on 13 shots.

"He's fired up," Kopitar said of Pearson. "He's getting some good looks, getting some ice time and well-deserved, too. They've been playing great and hopefully they can continue that way."

Pearson has two goals in his last two games and seems to have raised his level this season. He played 25 regular-season games last season, meaning he is still a rookie, still eligible for Calder Trophy consideration.

He is not dwelling on it, however.

"It's obviously there but you're not looking at winning the Calder," Pearson said. "You're looking at winning and trying to go as far as we did last year in the playoffs."

Toffoli explained why the line has been so effective.

"The chemistry comes with hard work and Jeff is very easy to play with," Toffoli said. "He's one of the best players in the league, personally, I think. Tanner and myself, we read off of him. We've got to skate hard and make plays and score goals."

Done and done.

"Jeff helps us out a lot," Toffoli said. "He's very vocal. When we are struggling, he's getting on us, making sure we get better as each shift goes along."

There was better balance Sunday. Kopitar scored his first goal of the season, assisted by linemate Marian Gaborik, at 10:58 of the first period to make it 2-0. Those were the first points this season for Kopitar and Gaborik.

"We can be better," Kopitar said. "Definitely a step in the right direction. I think we were moving the puck pretty well. I think we had some zone time and we were creating some chances.


"There's definitely room for improvement and we're going to work on it.

Winning one of three games in, say, February is treated almost with a shrug. But the first week of the season, for better or worse, can be over-emphasized. Losses are catastrophic. Wins are wildly celebrated.

The Kings are ahead of their pace from their last Stanley Cup defense. In 2013, they did not win until their fourth game of the season, opening 0-2-1.

Jones helped them to their first win this season, allowing only Bryan Little's late-second-period goal.

"That guy is a machine," Toffoli said of Jones. "That guy does it all. He's such a good goalie. He's a lot of fun to watch, just like Quickie [Jonathan Quick]."