Kings’ scoring tear continues in Dallas with a 5-2 win over the Stars
Anze Kopitar’s victims were numerous.
The Kings center won faceoff after faceoff against Stars center Cody Eakin. Kopitar burned Stars defenseman Kris Russell, going around him with the greatest of ease, and then made Dallas goalie Kari Lehtonen look helpless, waiting him out and finally lofting a backhander over him at precisely the right moment in the first period.
Kopitar’s teasing timing also was spot-on after the Kings’ 5-2 victory over Dallas on Tuesday. In back-to-back nights, the Kings outscored the Stars and the Chicago Blackhawks by a combined 10-2.
Also scoring for the Kings were Kris Versteeg, Tyler Toffoli, Dustin Brown and Trevor Lewis. Defenseman Rob Scuderi added two assists, giving him 100 in the NHL, and the two assists tied his career high for assists in a game. Goalie Jhonas Enroth got a rare start and secured a win against his former team.
But the Dallas game happened to be a significant milestone for Kings center Vinny Lecavalier, who played in his 1,200th NHL game and had an assist, setting up Lewis in the second period.
“Yeah, he’s old,” Kopitar said, directed his comment across the dressing room to the 35-year-old Lecavalier.
Kopitar then added: “Obviously, he’s been a great addition to our hockey club. I’m sure it was pretty special and I’m sure he’s going to remember this one for quite a little while.
“I can’t say enough about him. He’s given us some really, really solid minutes, five on five.”
There were probably many times when Lecavalier wondered if he would play again — let alone get to 1,200 — when he was mired in hockey purgatory in Philadelphia. His last game with the Flyers was on Nov. 12 and then he sat, and sat some more, before getting traded with defenseman Luke Schenn to the Kings on Jan. 6.
Naturally, Kings Coach Darryl Sutter put him in the lineup the next night, along with Schenn.
“It’s not like something I looked at, ‘Hey I want to get this amount of games,’” said Lecavalier, who has scored eight goals for the Kings since the trade. “I wasn’t really playing this year and now I get to play. I think it’s more that than a number of games. An opportunity to play hockey again, that’s the most important thing.”
In the Chicago game, the Milan Lucic-Kopitar-Versteeg line combined for two goals in the first 3:35. They pounced even earlier on Tuesday at American Airlines Center, just 23 seconds into the game, taking advantage of a Russell miscue, which eventually led to Versteeg’s goal.
After Brown’s goal made it 4-0, at 1:07 of the second period, Stars Coach Lindy Ruff pulled Lehtonen and replaced him with Antti Niemi.
“This had nothing to do with the goalies,” Ruff said. “The goalies didn’t make any of those plays. ... We gave them the lead right off the start. They didn’t have to gamble. They didn’t have to risk anything and they’re a good defending team.”
This was not the first time the Kings have had this sort of scoring output on back-to-back nights. They beat Vancouver, 5-0, and Edmonton, 5-2, on consecutive nights in late December.
“We knew it was a big game for us after the effort we put in last night,” said Kopitar, who won 77% of his faceoffs and lost only three of 18 draws through two periods.
“It’s obviously important to follow it up. ... We got off to an early lead again, which obviously is great to play with, but we followed it up every time they inched closer. We had an answer and obviously that is huge.”
Follow Lisa Dillman on Twitter @reallisa
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