FINAL – Kings 6, Jets 5 (SW) – Kopitar, Kempe, McLellan

The Los Angeles Kings earned a 6-5 shootout win over Winnipeg on Tuesday night at the Canadian Life Center in Manitoba.

The Kings got four goals from forward Anze Kopitar in the win, while Gabe Vilardi scored the tying goal late in the third period and forward Adrian Kempe buried the game-winning goal in the shootout.

Winnipeg took an early two-goal advantage thanks to a pair of goals from defenseman Josh Morrissey. First, after a point shot deflected off the boards and into the crease, Morrissey crashed and converted the scrum to open the scoring. Less than two minutes later, he buried his second goal of the period with a slapshot from the left circle, which marked his 12th goal of the season.

The Kings responded through Kopitar, however, who put the visitors on the board with a power-play goal less than 60 seconds into the middle stanza. After a first minor penalty against the Jets, the Kings placed Kopitar in the right circle, where he buried a one-timer for his 21st goal of the season and made it 2-1.

The Jets pushed back, however, to regain a two-goal run advantage. Forward Kyle Connor worked his way into the offensive zone, skated into the left circle and buried a high shot to the side of the glove for his 27th goal of the season, the team’s second most.

Kopitar brought the game level with a pair of deflected efforts, as he completed his hat trick 10:17 into the second period. First, the captain drove the net and got a stick on defender Alex Edler’s shot from the left point, bringing the visitors within a goal. The Kings tied the score when Kopitar deflected a shot from defenseman Drew Doughty to complete the tenth fastest hat trick in franchise history.

Forward Kevin Stenlund responded with a pair of goals to give the Jets a 5-3 lead in the second intermission. Stenlund scored his fourth goal of the season 12 minutes into the middle stanza, as he fired the best home tackle from the right circle for a 4-3 advantage. He extended the lead to 5-3 with a shorthanded goal, as he recovered a pass from forward Adam Lowry and scored a 2-on-1 run to complete a six-goal stretch.

The visitors burst into the third to level the game with a pair of goals to force extra time. First, Kopitar buried his fourth goal of the night to tie a career high in a single game. Vilardi then tied the game in the final five minutes of regulation time, forcing a turnover in the attacking zone, settling alone on Hellebuyck and scoring his side’s fifth goal of the night.

After a scoreless overtime period, the Kings got a shootout goal from Adrian Kempe and three saves from goaltender Pheonix Copley to seal the second point in the skills contest.

Hear from Kempe, Kopitar and head coach Todd McLellan after the win.

Adrian Kempe

Anze Kopitar
On a huge night and a big win on the road
Yes, it was a big win. I’m obviously happy to contribute, but to show the character of being repeatedly, coming back and ultimately winning in the shootout, those are two very big points for us.

On the comfort level of the team even hanging out in the third
We would like to be on the other side and play with a lead, but sometimes you have to come back to win and that feels good.

On the physical nature of tonight’s game
We know it’s a physical team coming in and it’s that time of year. Everyone is playing their best, physically playing with a lot of emotion and we had to match them.

Todd McLellan
On Anze Kopitar’s performance in tonight’s game
Hot hand, any shot had a chance, he had four but he could have had six, so we’re really happy for him. Great leadership steps up and pulls us through at the end of a journey when it doesn’t really look good. Lots of other guys followed him. I’m still disappointed with some of our players, believe it or not. We’re going to have this type of game, we just don’t have enough guys right now. This must change for the next 20 games.

On the comfort level of the team even when trailing 5-3 in the third period
Well, the only thing we believe is that we can score, which is a nice change from years past. Keeping the puck out of the net is always a challenge for us for different reasons and we will continue to work on that. For me, if you don’t score regularly, you have to do other things and do them well, do them regularly, night after night.

If the problems he saw tonight were the same as the game in New York
A little, yes, it was different but the same. You know, I always come back to a group of players and I’ll take care of that, but we need more of them. We need more.

On Gabe Vilardi’s game since his return from injury
I think he’s better. I will say that I thought he was skating better before his injury, it’s natural. You’ve been gone that long, and the game has gotten faster. I think some of the guys who came back from injury, even Trevor Moore when he came back, it’s faster, it’s March hockey now, it’s not November or December hockey. It’s fast and the games move and you have to be able to move. Gabe did the best job of the injured guys coming back and being able to find his game the quickest.

Remarks –
– Anze Kopitar (4-0-4) scored his second career four-goal game, equaling his record for most goals in a single game (4-0=4, March 22, 2018 at LOC). He is the second Kings skater to record a four-goal game this season (Adrian Kempe, 4-0=4, Feb. 11 vs. PIT) and the fifth different skater in Kings history to record multiple four-plus games. goals during their Kings. career (Marcel Dionne, Mike Murphy, Bernie Nicholls and Luc Robitaille).
– Kopitar (35 years, 188 days) is the oldest skater in franchise history to record a four-goal game and the fourth to record a hat trick. The only older players at the time of their three-goal game are Luc Robitaille (39 years, 336 days as of January 19, 2006) and Bob Nevin (36 years, 307 days as of January 19, 1975; 36 years, 209 days as of October 13, 1974 ).
– Kopitar’s four-goal outing marked his 44th career multi-goal game, tying Charlie Simmer for sixth most in franchise history. He also passed Wayne Gretzky (125) for the third most road multipoint games in Kings history.
– Gabriel Vilardi scored his 19th goal of the season with the tying scorer in the third period.
– Adrian Kempe scored his 12th career shootout goal, which also scored his second career-clinching shootout goal.
– Kevin Fiala increased his team-leading point total to 64 (21-43-64) with an assist. Only six players had more assists in their first season with the Kings: Wayne Gretzky (114 in 1988-89), Larry Murphy (60 in 1980-81), Jozef Stumpel (58 in 1997-98), Jason Allison (55 in 2001-02), Marcel Dionne (54 in 1975-76) and Craig Conroy (44 in 2005-06).
– Drew Doughty (0-2-2) had two assists for his 115th multi-point game of his career.
– Alex Iafallo played his 400th career NHL game, becoming the 24th undrafted active skater to achieve such a feat.

The Kings are scheduled to return to Los Angeles after tonight’s game and have a scheduled day off tomorrow.

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