The Los Angeles Kings earned their fifth straight victory, thanks to a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night at the 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 victory. Striker Gabriel Vilardi also scored, while striker Quinton Byfield extended his assist streak to five games.
The Kings took an early lead through Kempe, who buried his 31st goal of the season midway through the first period. Kopitar led a 2-on-1 run through the neutral zone, drew the defender towards him and fed Kempe into the wheelhouse for the one-timer to the back post and the first goal of the game.
The visitors doubled their advantage in the final three minutes of the opening period, taking a 2-0 lead at the first intermission. Kopitar was the facilitator again, as he fed Vilardi just outside the crease. Vilardi took his place on the tackle side and buried his 21st goal of the season for the two-goal lead.
Colorado got on the board with just over five minutes left in the second period, through forward Evan Rodrigues. A shot from the point by defender Samuel Girard was headed off Rodrigues’ stick, just under the crossbar and in, for his 13th goal of the season and a 2-1 scoreline.
LA regained their two-goal lead less than 30 seconds into the third period, as Kempe buried his second goal of the night. Stationed in the low slot, Kempe caught a deflected pass from defender Vladislav Gavrikov in a dangerous area, turned on his backhand and beat Colorado goaltender Alexander Georgiev from close range for his 32nd goal of the season.
The Avalanche once again reduced the deficit to one, scoring the first goal of the game on special teams. On the power play early in the third period, MacKinnon entered the right circle and shot through traffic to score his 27th goal of the season, drawing the hosts to 3-2.
Danault responded with his own goal soon after to give the Kings a two-goal lead. On the shift following Colorado’s power-play goal, Danault got a stick on a point shot from defenseman Jordan Spence, redirecting the puck past Georgiev and inside. Spence’s assist was his first of the season with the Kings. Danault froze the game in three minutes to play with the goal in an empty net, giving him a multi-goal night.
Hear from Kopitar, Kempe and head coach Todd McLellan after tonight’s game.
Kopitar speaks with the media after the W tonight against the Avalanche🔊@LAKings | #LAKingsLive pic.twitter.com/sFLtpKwzOa
— Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) March 10, 2023
On tonight’s win over Colorado
It was a good win, I thought it was a character win. We played a good 60 minutes, a few minutes too many in the penalty area, but I think we were the better team.
On Anze Kopitar’s quality of play right now
He has been playing at the same level for 17 years. The puck comes in a little more for us right now and maybe that’s the thing that pops a little more, but he shows up every day and does the same things. The puck comes in a bit more right now for me and for the line as well, so it’s a good confidence booster and something we’d like to continue.
On the upswing, a goal at the start of a period, or just after conceding, can bring
It is enormous. When the other team scores, it’s a big change of momentum when you can get a goal straight away. It was huge, Phil got a big one for the team, we were all fired up on the bench so it was huge. This shows that the four lines can play against anyone.
At the confidence level of the group at the moment, the winners of five consecutive matches
It’s up there for sure. I think we really feel like we can play with the best teams and I think we showed up and really showed that we can play with those teams that made it far in the playoffs. The character was really good, although maybe the powerplay and PK wasn’t really there, I felt like our 5v5 play was really good lately, he made us win matches. If we can put all the pieces of the puzzle together here, we’ll have a good game.
On what he loved most about the group about tonight’s win
I thought we were resilient. Everyone found a way to contribute, we played with high tempo, what to do against this team and we got exceptional goalkeepers when we needed them. We scored at the right time and going from here we’re happy with the group as a whole, not just two or three players, but the whole group.
On scoring just after conceding and scoring so fast to start the third period
Yeah, it’s huge, because you’re kinda on the heels, they have energy, we’re in their building and the fans are behind them. Calming things down a bit quickly benefited us from this third period.
On Anze Kopitar’s high level of play at the moment and whether his consistency almost takes him for granted
It’s probably fair to say, we probably take it for granted, we keep calling his name and he comes out and does it. I know we talk a lot about the goals he scores and the attack he puts up, but that has never been at the expense of what he does really well. He takes care of the group, the team, he does things right all the time.
Get immediate contributions from Gavrikov, Korpisalo and MacEwen
It does not surprise us, they are very good hockey players. They pick things up quickly in training, which is probably the area where I noticed it the most. Believe it or not, it may sound strange, but you don’t have to go to the board to explain the exercises, they look at it once and they get it. This gives us a pretty good idea of their ability to read and react to things around them.
Additionally, McLellan said of Kevin Fiala that “he tried to come back, kinda sore, so we’ll see.”
– The Kings extended their winning streak to five games, a season high.
– Adrian Kempe (2-0-2) scored his 31st and 32nd goals of the season, hitting the 50-point plateau (32-19-51) for the second time in his career (35-19-54 in 2021- 22). Kempe now has five points in his last three games (4-1-5).
– Kempe’s two-goal outing marked his 18th career multi-goal game. No Kings skater has had more multi-goal performances (18) than Kempe since his first NHL season (2016-17).
– Phillip Danault (2-0-2) scored his 99th and 100th career NHL goals, becoming the 22nd different skater in the 2011 NHL Draft to reach 100 career NHL goals.
–Anze Kopitar (0-3-3) recorded his 279th career multi-point game, moving him up two multi-point outings before tying Dave Taylor (281) for fourth in Kings history. It was also his 26th career outing with three assists. Only Wayne Gretzky (67), Marcel Dionne (43) and Dave Taylor (28) have more than three assists in franchise history.
– Quinton Byfield extended his point and assist streak in Game 5 (0-5-5). Byfield became the first Kings skater 20 or younger to establish an assist streak of at least five games since Darryl Sydor (20, 0-5-5, Feb. 27-March 9, 1993). The last Kings skater age 20 or younger to set a five-game point streak was Drew Doughty from Feb. 8 to March 4, 2010 (20, 1-6-7).
– Jordan Spence, Matt Roy, Kevin Fiala, Vladislav Gavrikov and Trevor Moore all had assists in the win. Thanks to his assist, Roy extended his point and assist streak in a fourth career 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 with the LA Kings. He is the 12th different goalie in franchise history to win in each of his first two appearances with the Kings.
The Kings are scheduled to practice tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the Toyota Sports Performance Center.