September 23, 2023

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

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

The Los Angeles Kings earned their fifth straight win thanks to a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche Thursday night at Ball Arena.

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

The Kings jumped out to an early lead by Kempe, who buried his 31st goal of the season midway through the first period. Kopitar drove a 2-on-1 rush through the no-man’s land, lured the defenseman towards him and fed Kempe into the wheelhouse for one timer at 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 half-time. Kopitar was again the facilitator, feeding Velarde out of the crease. Villardi picked up his lofty position on the blocking side and buried his 21st goal of the season in the lead by two goals.

Colorado got on the board with just over five minutes to play in the second period, via forward Ivan Rodriguez. A shot from the point of view of defender Samuel Gerrard was directed by Rodriguez’s stick, just below the crossbar and into the interior, for his 13th goal of the season and the score 2-1.

Los Angeles regained its two-goal advantage less than 30 seconds into the third period, as Kempe buried his second goal of the evening. Kempe positioned himself in the low slot, took a deflected pass from defender Vladislav Gavrikov in a dangerous area, won a backhand and beat Colorado goalie Alexander Georgiev from close range for his 32nd goal of the season.

Once again, the Avalanche narrowed the deficit to one, as they scored the first goal of the game on special teams. On man advantage at the start of the third period, McKinnon entered the right-hand circle and shot through the crowd and scored his 27th goal of the season, propelling the hosts to a 3-2 victory.

Danault pushed right back with a goal of his own shortly after to put the Kings back up by two goals. On the upshift after Colorado’s powerhouse goal, Danault caught a point shot from defender Jordan Spence, redirected the ball to Georgiev and into. It was Spence’s first touchdown pass of the season with the Kings. Danault iced the game within three minutes to play into an empty net, giving him a multi-goal night.

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

Anzi Copitar

Adrian Quimby
In tonight’s win over Colorado
It was a good win, I thought it was a personal win. We played 60 minutes aggressively, a few minutes in the penalty area, but I think we were the better team.

About how well Anze Kopitar is playing now
He has been playing at the same level for 17 years. The disc is playing a little bit more for us now and maybe that’s the thing that shows up a bit more, but it shows up every day and does the same things. The tweak is doing a little bit more now for me and the line as well, so that’s a good confidence booster and something we’d like to keep going.

When swinging momentum, he can score a goal early in a period, or just after conceding
it’s huge. When the other team scores, the momentum changes dramatically when we can get a goal back right away. It was huge, Phil got a great team opportunity, and we were all really excited on the bench, so that was huge. Shows that all four lines can play against anyone.

The group is now confident, five winners in a row
It’s definitely there. I think we definitely feel that 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 made so much progress in the qualifiers. The character was really good, though maybe it’s playing with power and the PK wasn’t really there, I felt like our 5 on 5 was really good lately, it was winning matches. If we can put all the pieces of the puzzle together here, we’ll have a nice stretch.

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Todd McClellan
About what I love most about the group about tonight’s win
I thought we were holding on. Everyone found a way to contribute, we played at a high level of pace, which you have to go for against this team and we got a great goal when we needed it. We scored some goals at the right time and as we leave here we are happy with the group as a whole, not just two or three players, but the whole group.

When scoring right after conceding and scoring very quickly to start the third period
Yeah, that’s huge, because you’re back on your heels a little bit, they have some energy, we’re in their building and the fans are behind them. Cooling things down a bit helped us quickly in that third period.

On the high level of play Anze Kopitar has at the moment and if his consistency is almost taken for granted
Maybe it’s fair to say, maybe we take him for granted, we 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 attacking he delivers, but it hasn’t been at the expense of what he does really well. He takes care of the group, the team, and does things right all the time.

About getting immediate contributions from Gavrikov, Korpisalo, and MacEwen
This does not surprise us, they are very good hockey players. They pick things up quickly in practice, and this is probably the area I notice the most. Believe it or not, this may sound strange, but you don’t have to go to the blackboard to explain the exercises, they watch it once and they get it. This gives us a good sense of their ability to read and interact with things around them.

Additionally, McClellan said on Kevin Fiala, “He tried to come back, a bit sore, so we’ll see.”

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Notes –
The Kings extended their winning streak to a five-game high.
– Adrian Kempe (2-0-2) scored his 31st and 32nd goals this season, and reached the 50-point plateau (32-19-51) for the second time in his career (35-19-54 in 2021-22). Kimbe now has five points in his last three games (4-1-5).
Kempe’s two-goal outing marked the 18th multi-goal game of his career. No Kings skater has had more multi-goal performance (18) than Kempe since his first NHL season (2016-17).
– Philippe Danault (2-0-2) scored his 99th and 100th career NHL goals, becoming the 22nd different skater of the 2011 NHL Draft to reach 100 NHL goals.
Anzi Kopitar (0-3-3) recorded his 279th career multi-point game, putting him two career multi-point games shy of tying Dave Taylor (281) for fourth in Kings history. It also marked his twenty-sixth career triple-double. Only Wayne Gretzky (67), Marcel Dionne (43) and Dave Taylor (28) have more than three assist games in franchise history.
– Quinton Bayfield extended his point and assist lines in the fifth game (0-5-5). Byfield became the first Kings skater age 20 or younger to create a pass streak of at least five games since Darryl Sydor (20, 0-5-5, February 27-March 9, 1993). The last Kings skater age 20 or younger to create a five-point streak was Drew Doughty from February 8 to March 4, 2010 (20 years old, 1-6-7).
– Jordan Spence, Matt Roy, Kevin Fiala, Vladislav Gavrikov and Trevor Moore all collected assists in the win. With his help, Roy extended his points and assists into a long fourth game (0-4-4), while Spence’s point was his first of the season.
Jonas Korbesalo stops 28 of 30 shots for his second win in his second start with the Los Angeles Kings. He is the 12th different goaltender in franchise history to notch up victories in his first two appearances with the Kings.

The Kings are scheduled to hold practice tomorrow at 11 a.m. at the Toyota Sports Performance Center.