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Tobias Rieder showing flash of why Kings wanted him

Toby or Tobias? That is the first question in getting to know Tobias Rieder.

He’s listed as Tobias but, in the tradition of hockey nicknames, often goes by Toby. Opposing broadcasters still have to ask which one is appropriate.

Rieder is fine with either. He has such an easygoing way about him and just wants to fit in. On the ice, that’s been hit and miss since Rieder joined the Kings from Arizona a month ago, but the forward took a big step with a two-goal game Thursday.

Before that breakout, Rieder had one goal with a minus-three rating in his first 12 games with the Kings. He said it felt good to get back on the scoresheet, although he didn’t think he needed such a validating performance.

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“I’ve felt like a part of the team ever since I got there,” Rieder said. “My teammates and all the people around are just amazing. … Obviously it feels good to get two goals.”

Rieder was sent to the Kings with goaltender Scott Wedgewood in a trade for Darcy Kuemper on Feb. 21, and came with considerable credentials. He scored 43 goals in his first three seasons with Arizona and his skating was a big reason the Kings wanted him in their lineup. Kings coach John Stevens has tried him on different lines and at both wing spots, including a stint with Anze Kopitar on the top line, in an effort to get Rieder going.

Thursday’s performance was the kind of offensive outburst the Kings knew Rieder could produce. Both goals were on rush plays that showed Rieder’s hands.

“That’s the guy we remember,” Stevens said. “He’s always a threat with his speed. It was nice to see him get on the board. I’m sure it’s good with his confidence … you get a couple of pucks in the net, you start to feel good about yourself, so it was good to see.”

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Rieder usually plays left wing but Stevens said he had enough experience on the right side to put Rieder there with Jeff Carter and Tanner Pearson. Carter found Rieder with a saucer pass on his second goal, and Rieder seemed to have his legs going all game long.

“That’s what I’m trying to bring to that line,” Rieder said. “Those are two really good players. I’m just trying to create room for them with my speed, pulling a defenseman back, or if I get in a footrace, I’m pretty confident I can beat a lot of guys. Whenever I see open ice, I’m trying to get my legs going. That usually opens up some room.”

Kopitar’s big improvement

Kopitar’s four-goal game Thursday gave him a 34-point improvement from last season — 52 to 86 — the highest year-to-year increase by a Kings player with a minimum of 75 games played, according to the NHL.

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Kopitar is the fifth Kings player to record more than 85 points in a season.

UP NEXT

AT EDMONTON

When: Saturday, 7 p.m. PDT.

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On the air: TV: FSW; Radio: 790

Update: The Kings did not practice Friday. They are on an eight-game road point streak and are 22-13-4 away from home. Connor McDavid also recorded a four-point game Thursday and has 36 goals. The Kings won the first two meetings by a combined 10-2 but the Oilers won the last matchup, 4-3, at Staples Center.

curtis.zupke@latimes.com

Twitter: @curtiszupke

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