Pittsburgh at Los Angeles

Kopitar scores twice more, Kings beat Penguins with four-goal third

CBSSports.com wire reports
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LOS ANGELES -- If the Los Angeles Kings' outstanding start is still escaping attention, maybe a come-from-behind victory against the defending NHL champions will attract a little notice for Anze Kopitar and his young, hungry club.

Jarrett Stoll scored the go-ahead goal with 7:51 to play, and the Kings rallied for a four-goal third period in a 5-2 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday night.

Kopitar, the speedy NHL scoring leader, tied it with his second goal early in the third for the Kings, who improved to 6-0-2 in their past eight games for the club's longest point streak since November 2000. Yet that run only begins to illustrate the Kings' confident, gritty play after six seasons out of the playoffs.

"Our maturity level is a lot higher," said Kopitar, who has 26 points in 16 games. "We're playing with a lot of desperation, and that's a good thing. We were losing these kinds of games last year, going into the third period behind the champions. Now we're sticking with it for 60 minutes and getting the right result."

Kopitar and his linemates, Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams, matched up with Pittsburgh captain Sidney Crosby's group for most of the night. They kept Crosby off the scoresheet while combining for two goals before their teammates took over in the third period.

"We're looking for that line to be an elite line in the game," Los Angeles coach Terry Murray said. "When you have that kind of expectation on you [from] a coaching staff, then there is a need to respond, and I'm seeing a more consistent effort that shows [Kopitar] wants to be that player."

Jonathan Quick made a handful of stunning stops among his 21 saves in a standout performance for the Kings, who ended the Penguins' season-opening, seven-game road winning streak with that dramatic late surge.

Michal Handzus scored on a rebound only 23 seconds after Stoll's one-timer on a clever pass from captain Dustin Brown, and Brown added a goal with 2:30 left during a delayed penalty, putting a flourish on a victory that could signal the Kings' early-season excellence during a 10-4-2 start has some staying power.

"You can't deny that [Los Angeles] played well," Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said. "They forced us into a lot of the mistakes that we made. No matter how well you play defensively, when you're forced to play back there for long periods of time, there are going to be loose pucks, and some of them can end up in your net."

Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 27 shots but couldn't slow down the third-period barrage by the Kings, who haven't lost in regulation since Oct. 17. Two nights after erasing a late two-goal deficit at Phoenix for a 5-3 victory, the Kings again finished strong.

"We didn't play great, and sometimes you get away with that," Crosby said. "It's a good lesson for us. We have gotten away with bad periods in the past, but tonight we didn't. We didn't capitalize on our chances and we didn't play well in the third, and in a tight game like that, you can't afford for that to happen."

Jordan Staal and Chris Kunitz scored for the Penguins, who lead the Eastern Conference with 24 points. Pittsburgh opened its four-game road trip on Tuesday with a 4-3 victory at Anaheim, matching the longest road winning streak in franchise history with only the Penguins' second victory in California in nearly 11 years.

Pittsburgh dropped to 2-2 without Evgeni Malkin, last season's NHL scoring champion, who is out with a strained shoulder. Defenseman Sergei Gonchar also is out.

Only 27 seconds after the opening faceoff, Kopitar scored when Pittsburgh's poor transition defense allowed Justin Williams to slip the puck to him for an unimpeded rush at the net. He easily deked Fleury out of position for his 12th goal -- but 43 seconds later, Staal fired a long slap shot past Quick for his fourth goal.

The Kings' second-period dominance finally was rewarded in the third when Kopitar corralled the rebound of Williams' shot behind the net and swung it around to beat a sprawling Fleury with a backhand. The goal was Kopitar's ninth in eight games during his breakout season.

Notes

  • Handzus was given an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty late in the second period for shooting the puck at Fleury one moment after the referees stopped play for a penalty. Kings coach Terry Murray vehemently argued the unusual ruling, to no avail.
  • Crosby made the second appearance of his career at Staples Center.
  • The Penguins scratched F Tyler Kennedy, who returned against Anaheim after missing three games with a groin injury.
Copyright 2015 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Anze Kopitar scores one of his two goals, and ends the game with a league-leading 26 points.  (Getty Images)
Anze Kopitar scores one of his two goals, and ends the game with a league-leading 26 points. (Getty Images)
Scoreboard
Pittsburgh (12-4-0)1102
Los Angeles  (10-4-2) «1045
Three Stars
A. Kopitar
LA


Goals: 2
Assist(s): 0
D. Brown
LA


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1
J. Stoll
LA


Goals: 1
Assist(s): 1

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Scoring Summary
1ST PERIOD
27.0Anze Kopitar (12), Backhand Shot. Assist: Williams, Smyth
01:10Jordan Staal (4), Wrist Shot. Assist: Conner, McKee
2ND PERIOD
10:51Chris Kunitz (3), Tip-In. Assist: Orpik, Guerin
3RD PERIOD
06:17Anze Kopitar (13), Wrap Shot. Assist: Williams, Doughty
12:09Jarret Stoll (4), Wrist Shot. Assist: Brown
12:32Michal Handzus (6), Wrist Shot. Assist: Frolov, Simmonds
17:30Dustin Brown (5), Wrist Shot. Assist: Stoll, Johnson
Penalty Summary
1ST PERIOD
05:52Greene, 2 min, Holding
2ND PERIOD
01:15Cooke, 2 min, Hooking
11:35Eaton, 2 min, Delay of Game - Puck Over Glass
17:53Williams, 2 min, High-Sticking
17:53Handzus, 2 min, Roughing
17:53Kunitz, 2 min, Roughing
3RD PERIOD
09:50Greene, 2 min, Holding
12:52Crosby, 2 min, Tripping
Shots On Goal
 123T
Pittsburgh671023
Los Angeles7131232
Goalies
GoalieMINSSGA
Marc-Andre Fleury59:43275
Jonathan Quick59:46212
Game Information
Attendance - 18118
Referees - Chris Lee, Brad Meier
Linesmen - Tony Sericolo, Lyle Seitz
 
Other Games
Chi 1 Final
Pho 3
Mon 2 Final
Bos 1
SJ 1 Final
Det 2
Colu 4 Final
Atl 3
Nash 0 Final
Ana 4
Van 5 Final
Min 2
TB 2 Final
OT
Ott 3
Cal 2 Final
OT
StL 1
NYR 4 Final
Edm 2