Kopitar Score 2 Goals To Lead Kings Past Jets, Win 6 Straight
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Anze Kopitar scored two goals in the first period, Jonathan Quick made 24 saves, and the Los Angeles Kings kept rolling toward the playoffs with their sixth straight victory, 4-2 over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday night.
Trevor Lewis and Tyler Toffoli also scored for the Kings, who haven’t lost since March 17. Marian Gaborik and Willie Mitchell had two assists apiece as Los Angeles took a 3-0 lead in the first period and cruised to its 14th win in 17 games.
Matt Halischuk and Blake Wheeler scored in the third period for the Jets, who hadn’t visited Los Angeles since Jan. 3, 1996.
Ondrej Pavelec gave up three goals in the first period before getting pulled, and Al Montoya stopped 12 shots in the final 40 minutes.
Winnipeg has lost four of six and 10 of 13, its playoff hopes dwindling to a faint prayer. The erstwhile Atlanta Thrashers finally have appeared in every NHL road arena since their move to Manitoba in 2011, but they couldn’t keep up in the first period against their surging hosts.
Although the Kings are all but locked into third place in the Pacific Division, they’re ramping up to chase their second Stanley Cup title in three years with outstanding play since returning from the Olympic break. Los Angeles has won 13 of 16 since Sochi, with three one-goal losses between two lengthy winning streaks.
While the Kings are all but certain to face San Jose or Anaheim in the first round of the postseason, the Jets’ meager playoff hopes became even fainter with the loss. Winnipeg trails eighth-place Phoenix in the Western Conference standings by nine points with seven games to go.
Kopitar’s third multigoal game of the season was set up by another strong offensive game from Kings newcomer Gaborik, who had his second multipoint performance on Los Angeles’ top line with Kopitar and Justin Williams. Gaborik has eight points in his past nine games for Los Angeles.
The Kings went ahead just 2:42 in when a sharp-angled shot somehow got past Pavelec for Lewis’ career-best sixth goal of the season. Lewis didn’t score in his first 38 games of the season, but the grinding forward has four goals in March.
Kopitar then scored when a rebound of Gaborik’s shot banked off his skate and in for the Slovenian center’s 23rd goal. Gaborik’s shot sent Winnipeg defenseman Mark Stuart’s stick flying into Pavelec’s chest.
Kopitar scored again late in the period, muscling past the Winnipeg defense to put a rebound backhand past Pavelec for his third multigoal game of the season.
After a scoreless second period, Halischuk scored his first goal since Dec. 14 from right in front of Quick, banging home an exceptional pass from Evander Kane below the goal line in the corner.
Quick made an absurd facedown save with 1 minute to play, sticking his right leg into mid-air to block a long Winnipeg shot.
The Kings are likely to open the playoffs on the road, where they’ve won eight straight games. … When the Kings visited Winnipeg for their second game of the season on Oct. 4, Quick was pulled during a 5-3 Jets victory. … Mitchell had his first multipoint game since April 5, 2012. The stay-at-home defenseman missed all of last season with injuries, and he had seven points in his first 69 games this season.