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Kings’ Anze Kopitar exits win over Blues with upper-body injury

Kings forward Anze Kopitar was forced out of a game against St. Louis on Nov. 3 after he was hit in the head by Blues forward Ryan Reaves' elbow or the end of his stick.

Kings forward Anze Kopitar was forced out of a game against St. Louis on Nov. 3 after he was hit in the head by Blues forward Ryan Reaves’ elbow or the end of his stick.

(Alex Gallardo / Associated Press)

The Kings’ season took a potentially worrisome turn Tuesday when center Anze Kopitar, who has led them in scoring each of the last eight seasons, suffered an upper-body injury during the first period of their game at St. Louis.

A team spokesman said Kopitar did not return to the contest.

Kopitar was struck in the lower part of his face by an elbow or the butt-end of a stick when he was hit by St. Louis Blues forward Ryan Reaves just over 12 minutes into the game at the Scottrade Center. Kopitar went to the bench and was bent over, but he came out to kill a penalty soon afterward and played several more shifts.

However, he did not return for the second period. No penalty was called on Reaves, but the NHL can review any play for possible supplementary discipline.

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Kopitar has four goals and no assists this season, unusual for such a skilled playmaker. But Kings Coach Darryl Sutter has had difficulty finding wingers who can finish off the plays Kopitar can make. The Slovenia-born center skated alongside Marian Gaborik and Dustin Brown on Tuesday, as he has for a while.

The Kings defeated the Blues, 3-0, powered by a first-period goal by Jeff Carter during a four-on-three manpower advantage and a third-period goal by left wing Tanner Pearson, whose lack of production had recently drawn criticism from Coach Darryl Sutter. Trevor Lewis scored into an empty net to clinch it.

Goalie Jhonas Enroth stopped 24 shots to earn his first shutout with the Kings and give them a split of their two-game trip following their 4-2 loss at Chicago on Monday.

The game was the second for the Kings in a back-to-back sequence that began Monday night in Chicago. They were scheduled to return to Los Angeles after Tuesday night’s game.

Follow Helene Elliott on Twitter @helenenothelen


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