What we learned from the Kings’ 3-2 victory over Arizona on Tuesday.
Anze Kopitar might be stirring offensively
Kopitar’s three-point game (one goal, two assists) was his third this season, matching his best single-game production. But on both previous occasions he did it with three assists, against Montreal on Dec. 4 and Winnipeg on Jan. 14. “Very powerful player,” Coach Darryl Sutter said Tuesday. “Look at all the faceoffs he won on that side of the ice, drew penalties, pretty dominant player tonight.” Kopitar’s six-goal, 30-point stat line is still far from where he usually is, but he has two goals in his last three games and was visible on nearly every shift.
Chasing a playoff spot shouldn’t bring new pressure
The Kings have been playing catch-up most of the season, so the urgency to make a playoff push after the All Star break shouldn’t be anything new for them. “We’ve been pushing pretty good right after Christmas, too,” Kopitar said.
After facing Colorado at home Wednesday night they take off for a four-game trip East; they won’t face another team that’s ahead of them in the West playoff standings until they play the Ducks at Anaheim on Feb. 19.
Sutter is still juggling lines and defense pairs
The coach had great praise for Jake Muzzin, who was paired with Drew Doughty, but wasn’t entirely pleased. “Muzzin was a really good player tonight,” Sutter said. “He was really good retrieving the puck, really good at transitioning the puck — he covered up a lot for our other defensemen tonight.”
Sutter also paired Brayden McNabb with Kevin Gravel, and Alec Martinez with Derek Forbort. McNabb and Gravel were each -1 defensively. Sutter also switched centers on two lines, starting with Kopitar between Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown but later putting Kopitar between Dwight King and Jordan Nolan and having Nick Shore center for Gaborik and Brown.
More changes are likely once winger Tyler Toffoli returns from a lower-body injury, and Sutter said Tuesday morning that Toffoli “appears to be on the verge of making a comeback.” The scratches on Tuesday were defenseman Tom Gilbert and forward Devin Setoguchi; Toffoli and defenseman Matt Greene are on injured reserve.
Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen