Anze Kopitar leads streaking Kings past Winnipeg, 4-2
Their hard-earned road mentality survived the flight home intact, making the trip back to Staples Center with the Kings.
That hasn’t always been the case this season.
But the Kings chased one goalie (Ondrej Pavelec) and scored once on his replacement (Al Montoya) to defeat the Winnipeg Jets, 4-2, on Saturday night for their sixth straight victory.
Leading scorer Anze Kopitar scored twice for the Kings, his 23rd and 24th goals of the season, his linemate Marian Gaborik added two assists, as did defenseman Willie Mitchell for his first multi-point game in nearly two years. Trevor Lewis had his sixth goal of the season, a career high.
The Kings scored twice in the first eight minutes, took a 3-0 lead by the end of the first period.
That was followed by textbook defense in the second period — holding the Jets to four shots — and managed to survive some sloppy moments in the final 20 minutes as the Jets scored twice, once on a fluke-ish play and once on the power play.
“It’s pretty easy to ease up,” Kopitar said. “But this time of the year, you want to sharpen up as much as you can before the playoffs.
“Everybody is stressing that. Everybody is talking about it. In this room, we all know that’s what is going to happen, what should happen. We kept on pressing. We gave up a couple but sometimes that’s the way it goes.”
Said Kings goalie Jonathan Quick: “We can get better, that’s for sure. There’s a lot we can improve on. We’ve been playing good hockey but we want to play better hockey.”
The multitalented Quick, who recorded his 26th win of the season, made an incredible kick save in the waning seconds when the Jets had pulled their goalie for an extra attacker. He went sliding and was on his stomach and kicked his right leg behind him and somehow managed to keep the puck out.
Naturally, Quick was downplaying the highlight moment. So were his teammates but they hadn’t all seen the highlight of the down-and-out spectacular reflex.
“Kind of a little scrum in front. I lost my footing a little bit,” Quick said. “The puck went to the side and I can’t remember who took the shot from the corner. I was just trying to get coverage and luckily it hit my skate. I don’t know if it was going in. It might have been going wide.”
Quick’s bid for a sixth shutout this season ended early in the third period, at 1:54. Jets forward Evander Kane’s centering pass out of the corner went off Quick’s stick right to the stick of forward Matt Halischuk, who scored his fourth of the season.
That cut the Kings’ lead to 3-1. But the Kings’ response was swift as they restored their three-goal lead 3:05 later, via a nice transition play starting in the Kings’ end when Mitchell blocked defenseman Jacob Trouba’s shot.
Kings youngster Tyler Toffoli put on a burst of speed on the left wing and finished it off with a sharp wrist shot. Toffoli has points in four straight games.
All that was left was to try to get Kopitar the hat trick. He chuckled when asked whether he was upset about not getting the third goal. For the record, he wasn’t.
“It was nice to get them out of the way quick,” Kopitar said of his two goals. “I thought, as a team, the first period was pretty good. It turned out to be the key to the game, a good start.
“We had three fairly quick and we took it in pretty nicely the rest of the way.”
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