FINAL – Kings 5, Avalanche 2 – Kopitar, Kempe, McLellan

The LA Kings skated to their fifth consecutive win thanks to a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night at Ball Arena.

The Kings got three points from Anze Kopitar (0-3-3) and two goals each from Phillip Danault and Adrian Kempe in the win. Striker Gabriel Vilardi also scored, while striker Quinton Byfield extended his assist streak to five games.

The Kings took the lead early on through Kempe, who buried his 31st goal of the season midway through the first period. Kopitar led a 2-on-1 rush through the neutral zone, drawing in the defender and feeding Kempe into the wheelhouse for the one-timer at the back post and the first goal of the game.

The visitors doubled their lead in the last three minutes of the opening period and took a 2-0 lead going into the first interval. Kopitar was again the facilitator as he fed Vilardi just outside the crease. Vilardi picked his spot high on the blocker side, burying his 21st goal of the season for the two-goal lead.

Colorado got on the board with just over five minutes to play in the second period, through forward Evan Rodrigues. A shot from defender Samuel Girard’s point was aimed by Rodrigues’ stick, just under the crossbar and inside, for his 13th goal of the season and a 2–1 scoreline.

LA regained its two-goal lead less than 30 seconds into the third period, when Kempe buried his second goal of the night. Stationed in the low slot, Kempe took a deflected pass from defender Vladislav Gavrikov into a dangerous area, spun on his backhand and beat Colorado netminder Alexander Georgiev from close range for his 32nd goal of the season.

However, the Avalanche again narrowed the deficit to one as they scored the first goal of the game in special teams. On the man advantage early in the third period, MacKinnon ran into the right circle and shot through traffic and in for his 27th goal of the season, putting the hosts within 3–2.

Danault pushed back soon after with an own goal to put the Kings ahead again with two goals. On the move up following Colorado’s power play goal, Danault got a stick on a punt shot from defenseman Jordan Spence, guiding the puck past Georgiev and in. Spence’s assist was his first of the season with the Kings. Danault put the game on ice within three minutes to play with the empty goal, giving him a multi-goal night.

Hear from Kopitar, Kempe and Head Coach Todd McLellan after tonight’s game.

Anze Kopitar

Adrian Kempe
About tonight’s win over Colorado
It was a good win, I thought it was a character win. We played a solid 60 minutes, a few minutes too many in the penalty area, but I think we were the better side.

About how well Anze Kopitar is playing right now
He has been playing at the same level for 17 years. The puck is going in for us a little bit more now and maybe that’s the thing that shows up a little bit more, but he shows up every day and does the same things. The puck is now going in a little bit more for myself and also for the line, so that’s a good confidence boost and something we’d like to continue.

On momentum, a goal early in a period, or right after a setback, can score a goal
It’s huge. If the other team scores, it’s a big change in momentum if we can score a goal right away. It was huge, Phil got a big one for the team there, we were all pumped up on the bench, so those were the huge ones. It shows that all four lines can play against anyone.

At the group confidence level at the moment, winners of five consecutive
It’s definitely up there. I think we definitely feel we can play with the best teams and I think we showed up and really showed that we can play with these teams that have come far into the playoffs. The character was really good, although maybe power play and PK weren’t really there, I felt like our 5v5 game has been really good lately, it won us games. If we can get all the puzzle pieces together here, we’ll get a good piece.

Todd McLellan
About what he liked most about the group about tonight’s win
I thought we were resilient. Everyone found a way to contribute, we played at a fast pace which you have to against this team and we got excellent goalkeepers when we needed them. We scored on time and now that we are leaving here we are happy with the group as a whole, not just with two or three players, but with the whole group.

On scoring right after conceding and scoring so fast to start the third period
Yeah, that’s huge because you’re kind of on the heels again, they’ve got some energy, we’re in their building and the fans are behind them. Slowing down a bit was quickly an advantage for us in that third period.

About Anze Kopitar’s high level of play at the moment and whether his consistency almost takes him for granted
That’s probably fair to say, we probably take him for granted, we just keep calling his name and he goes out and does it. I know there is a lot of talk about the goals he scores and the attacks he puts in, but it’s never at the expense of what he really does well. He takes care of the group, the team, he always does things right.

About receiving immediate contributions from Gavrikov, Korpisalo and MacEwen
We are not surprised, they are very good hockey players. In practice, they pick things up quickly, it’s probably the area that caught my eye the most. Believe it or not, this may sound strange, but you don’t have to go to the board to explain exercises, they watch it once and they got it. That gives us a pretty good idea of ​​their ability to read and react to things around them.

In addition, McLellan said of Kevin Fiala that “he was trying to come back, kind of hurtful, so we’ll see.”

Comments –
– The Kings extended their winning streak to five games in the season.
– Adrian Kempe (2-0-2) scored his 31st and 32nd goals of the season to reach the 50-point plateau for the second time in his career (32-19-51) (35-19-54 in 2021-22) . Kempe now has five points in his last three games (4-1-5).
– Kempe’s two-goal performance marked his 18th career multi-goal match. No Kings skater has more multi-goal performance (18) than Kempe since his debut NHL season (2016-17).
– Phillip Danault (2-0-2) scored his 99th and 100th career NHL goals to become the 22nd other skater from the 2011 NHL Draft class to reach 100 NHL goals.
– Anze Kopitar (0-3-3) recorded his 279th career multi-point game, eschewing two multi-point outings to tie Dave Taylor (281) for fourth in Kings history. It was also his 26th career three-assist appearance. Only Wayne Gretzky (67), Marcel Dionne (43) and Dave Taylor (28) have more three-plus assist games in franchise history.
– Quinton Byfield extended his point and assist streaks to a fifth game (0-5-5). Byfield became the first Kings skater age 20 or under to record an assist streak of at least five games since Darryl Sydor (aged 20, 0-5-5, February 27 to March 9, 1993). The last Kings skater age 20 or under to complete a five game point streak was Drew Doughty from February 8 to March 4, 2010 (aged 20, 1-6-7).
– Jordan Spence, Matt Roy, Kevin Fiala, Vladislav Gavrikov and Trevor Moore all collected helpers in the win. With his assist, Roy extended his point and assist streaks to a career fourth game (0-4-4), while Spence’s point was his first of the season.
– Joonas Korpisalo stopped 28 of 30 shots for his second win in his second start for the LA Kings. He is the 12th different goaltender in franchise history to record wins in each of his first two appearances with the Kings.

The Kings will hold practice tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the Toyota Sports Performance Center.

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