Tyler Toffoli scores second career hat trick in Kings’ 5-0 win over Canucks
Just how were Anze Kopitar and Tyler Toffoli going to handle the extra responsibilities without leading scorer Jeff Carter to share the burden?
The answer: A hat trick for one (Toffoli) and a four-point night for the other (Kopitar).
That, and a shutout by goalie Jonathan Quick helped the Kings dismantle the Vancouver Canucks, 5-0, on Monday night at Rogers Arena. The Milan Lucic-Kopitar-Toffoli line accounted for eight points and Quick made 27 saves for his third shutout for the season and the 40th of his career.
This extended the Kings’ lead in the Pacific Division to nine points over Arizona and Vancouver.
“It’s huge. We haven’t done a great job so far with teams in our division,” said Toffoli, who recorded his second career hat trick. “We kind of threw some games away. Winning at Arizona and winning tonight … we’re just trying to send a message that we’re the best team in the division.”
The game started with a hint of irascibility — OK, more than a hint — right away from Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb, who appeared to catch Henrik Sedin with an elbow to the head and mixed it up with Canucks defenseman Alex Biega and then later with forward Brandon Prust.
“We had a good game but it all started with Nabber on the first shift,” said Toffoli.
Sedin told reporters that he thought it was “a flying elbow to the head” and that the only point of contact “was my face.”
“He [the referee] said it was a clean hit. I’m sure they didn’t really see what happened,” Sedin said.
McNabb’s, and the Kings’, early edginess gave way to offense, including some from McNabb himself, who scored his second goal of the season.
For Forbort, it was his first goal in 11 NHL games. The goal, at first, went to Kings captain Dustin Brown but was changed to Forbort with some apparent assistance from Brown.
“I just kind of got a puck off the boards and wanted to get it down to the net,” Forbort said. “I guess the puck had eyes because somehow it went in. But it felt pretty good to get the first one.
“Originally, I thought Brownie tipped it but he came up and said he didn’t. Just the kind of teammate he is. I think even if he did tip it, he wasn’t going to tell me.”
Toffoli’s goals were his team-leading 15th, 16th and 17th of the season. He joked that he just “closed his eyes and fired” when he beat Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom up high in the corner for the first goal of the game, at 15:33 of the first period, making it 1-0.
His absence shifted more responsibility to Kopitar, who was a force in the faceoff circle. He won 17 of 20 faceoffs — an 85% success rate — through the first two periods and finished by winning 23 of 28 faceoffs overall.
“I don’t know how many I took, but I felt good right off the start,” Kopitar said. “Certainly helps when Henrik Sedin didn’t take any faceoffs, who is obviously their go-to guy on a lot of the situations on draws.”
The Carter injury meant more adjustments. Kopitar centered Toffoli and Lucic. “When a guy like Carts goes down everybody has got to come together and step up,” Kopitar said. “It’s not only one guy that is going to carry his load or anything because those are obviously very big shoes to fill.”
KINGS AT EDMONTON OILERS
When: Tuesday, 6 p.m. PST.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 790.
Update: Trades have been few and far between in the NHL this season. But an actual transaction took place Monday when the Oilers sent former Kings goalie Ben Scrivens to Montreal in exchange for Zack Kassian after the holiday trade freeze was lifted. Scrivens had been with the Oilers’ American Hockey League affiliate in Bakersfield.
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