Kings center Anze Kopitar assisted on Marian Gaborik’s second-period goal for his 600th point in the NHL on Saturday at Staples Center. It was one of the Kings’ few highlights in a 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Kopitar has 216 goals and 384 assists. He tied Butch Goring for sixth place on the franchise’s all-time list for assists and became the seventh player to reach 600 points in a Kings uniform.
Kings forward Tyler Toffoli recorded four goals and six points to lead the team to three victories last week. The NHL took notice and named Toffoli the second star of the week. His week was highlighted by his first three-goal game in the NHL during a 5-3 victory Thursday over the Columbus Blue Jackets. He also had an assist for a career-best tying four-point game. He became the first Kings player under 23 to record a hat trick since Anze Kopitar on Oct. 22, 2009. Toffoli has 18 goals and 36 points going into Monday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Marian Hossa of the Chicago Blackhawks was the first start and goalie Pekka Rinne of the league-leading Nashville Predators was the third.
Not to pick on Jeff Carter, because he’s only one of many of the Kings’ top producers who are struggling on the road. But the numbers simply don’t add up for a number of the Kings’ best offensive players. Carter has scored 12 of his 14 goals and recorded 17 of his 22 assists at Staples Center, for instance. The home vs. road disparity is widespread, however. It helps to explains the Kings’ 5-12-6 road mark. Here’s a look at the Kings’ top scorers’ road woes:
Anze Kopitar, 11 goals, 28 assists overall; 2 goals, 6 assists on the road.
Carter: 14 goals, 22 assists overall; 2 goals, five assists on the road.
Drew Doughty: 4 goals, 26 assists overall; 4 goals, 10 assists on the road.
Marian Gaborik: 16 goals, 13 assists overall; 6 goals, 4 assists on the road.
Tyler Toffoli: 13 goals, 16 assists overall; 4 goals, 4 assists on the road.
Justin Williams 13 goals, 12 assists overall; 7 goals, 5 assists on the road.
Also: Carter has a plus/minus rating of minus-12 on the road and Kopitar has a minus-14 on the road.
Here’s center Anze Kopitar speaking to reporters about the Kings’ road struggles after they fell to 5-11-6 away from Staples Center with a 4-0 loss Tuesday to the Capitals in Washington: “We just don’t have the intensity and the emotion that we did in the past, and we’re going to have to have in the future. At the end of the day, we’ve got to win games. It doesn’t matter how we do it. If it’s 1-0 or 5-4, it doesn’t matter. We’ve got to get the two points.”
KINGS AT CAPITALS
Faceoff: 4 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM
The Kings’ 5-10-6 road record is the NHL’s third-worst by victories and fourth-worst by points. Only the Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers had fewer road wins than the Kings with four apiece at the start of business Monday, and only the Sabres (nine), Oilers (15) and Carolina Hurricanes (15) had fewer points than the Kings’ 16. The Kings (21-16-12 overall) were ninth in the Western Conference, three points behind the Calgary Flames for the final wild-card spot. The Flames could have extended the gap to five points with a victory Monday over the Winnipeg Jets. The Kings began a five-game trip with a loss Saturday to the Boston Bruins. Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 38 points, including 27 assists. Marian Gaborik has a team-leading 15 goals. Washington’s Alexander Ovechkin leads the league with 31 goals. The Capitals are 25-15-10.
KINGS AT BRUINS
Faceoff: 4 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM
The Kings begin a five-game trip in Boston on Sunday, hit the White House for a celebration of their Stanley Cup championship Monday and then finish with stops to play the Washington Capitals, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets. The Kings must improve on their 5-9-6 road record if they hope to move back among the top eight teams in the Western Conference that will qualify for the playoffs. The Kings (21-15-12) were one point behind the Calgary Flames (26-20-3) for the final wild-card berth at the start of business Friday. Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 38 points, including 27 assists, and Jeff Carter has 36 points, including 22 assists. Carter had two goals and one assist in the Kings’ victory Wednesday over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Bruins are 26-16-7 after a victory Thursday over the New York Islanders.
Here’s what Kings center and leading scorer Anze Kopitar told reporters after the team went into the All-Star break with a 4-2 loss Wednesday to the San Jose Sharks that left them in ninth place in the Western Conference (and out of a playoff spot) with a 20-15-12 record: “We’re disappointed in where we are in the standings right now. “We have to take the next few days to figure that out. It’s time to play desperate coming out of the break.”
Tomorrow’s notebook lead today …
The Kings were far from flawless during their 3-2 shootout loss Saturday to the NHL-leading Ducks at Staples Center, but a return to a more disciplined and well-ordered game was “a step in the right direction,” captain Dustin Brown said Sunday.
Brown called the shootout a “crap shoot,” a reference to the Kings’ 1-7 record this season in the skills contest. Kings shooters are a woeful 2 for 28 in eight shootouts, which includes misfires from Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik on Saturday against the Ducks’ Frederik Andersen.
Jakob Silfverberg scored the only goal in the shootout and the Ducks (30-10-6) increased their lead over the Kings (20-14-11) in the Pacific Division to 15 points. Alec Martinez and Kopitar scored in regulation for the Kings. Ryan Getzlaf and Sami Vatanen scored for the Ducks.
The bottom line in a bottom line game is that the Kings’ play was dramatically improved over recent games, including a dreary 5-3 loss Wednesday to the lackluster New Jersey Devils. The Kings were far better defensively and in goal Saturday against the Ducks.
The Kings squandered leads of 1-0 and 2-1, but they didn’t give up goals in bunches, as they did against the Devils, who scored three times in 68 seconds in the second period. The Kings played the Ducks even in special teams, with each team clicking once on the power play.
However, the Kings were outshot 31-28 by the Ducks, the first time they’ve been outshot since Nov. 29, a remarkable run that hasn’t translated into victories. The Kings have lost two in a row and are 3-3-4 in their last 10 games going into Monday night’s home contest against the Calgary Flames.
The Kings awoke Sunday in ninth place in the Western Conference, one spot behind the Flames. Only the top eight teams in each conference advance to the playoffs, and in order to defend their Stanley Cup championship, the Kings must finish in the top eight.
“We played a really good hockey game, but we didn’t close it out coming into the third period,” Gaborik said Saturday after Vatanen, a defenseman, scored a tying power-play goal in the third. “The shootout has been an issue for the whole year.
“The points are getting away from us in the shootout, so we just need to find a way to put some goals in. We’ve been practicing a bit, but we just have to get it done. We have enough talent for the guys to score goals. We just need to get the one win and the confidence level will go up.”
The Kings fell to 1-7 in shootouts with a 3-2 loss Saturday to the Ducks at Staples Center, which helps to explain why they are scrambling to hold onto a playoff spot. Their shooters are a woeful 2 for 28 after Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik failed to score against the Ducks’ Frederik Andersen.
“We just can’t pick the right guys,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. “I think we (picked) really well. Jeff, Kopi and Gabby. If you were betting on the game in shootouts, wouldn’t you choose Jeff, Kopi and Gabby?”
The Kings’ record of 20-14-11 left them in fifth place in the Pacific Division.
The Kings will be well-represented at the Jan. 25 All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio. Joining coach Darryl Sutter and his staff will be defenseman Drew Doughty, center Anze Kopitar and winger Tanner Pearson.
Doughty made the team for the first time in his seven-year career, a mind-boggling fact given his remarkable play the last few seasons. But there was no game last season because of the Sochi Olympics and it was not played in 2012-13 because of the lockout.
Kopitar was selected despite some subpar statistics in the first half of the season. He was the Kings’ leader with 29 goals and 70 points last season, but had only eight goals and 30 points in the first 41 games of 2014-15.
Pearson was selected as one of six rookies to make the teams. He had 12 goals, tied with Marian Gaborik and Tyler Toffoli for the team lead, plus four assists going into the Kings’ game Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.