During a season that has fallen far from expectations, the Los Angeles Kings still can deliver some history when they play at Arizona on Wednesday in the second of two consecutive road games against the Coyotes.
Kings captain Anze Kopitar is at 999 career points after a goal and an assist in Los Angeles’ 3-2 victory at Arizona on Monday and can become the 91st player to reach 1,000 in Wednesday’s game.
The two-time Stanley Cup champion, who made his NHL debut in the 2006-07 season, would become the fourth Kings player to reach 1,000 along with Marcel Dionne (1,771), Luc Robitaille (1,394) and Dave Taylor (1,069).
Kopitar’s solid night Monday came after Adrian Kempe was moved to his line, with Alex Iafallo moved off. Kempe had an assist on Kopitar’s goal and Iafallo ended up with the game-winning goal late in the second period.
“Ever since I came here he has been a role model for me (with) how he dominates out there every single night with the puck, how strong he is with the puck,” Kempe said on the Bally Sports broadcast. “It’s impressive to watch to see him do that over and over again every season.”
Kopitar’s 49-point season (13 goals, 36 assists) is well below his standards after 15 productive campaigns with Los Angeles, while the team has struggled to a 20-24-6 record (46 points).
Los Angeles still earned the victory Monday despite losing No. 1 goaltender Jonathan Quick after two periods because of an upper-body injury. Quick did make a save from a hard shot off his left shoulder at one point Monday. Calvin Petersen did not allow a goal over the third period as the Kings finished off the victory.
The Kings and Coyotes each are mathematically alive for a playoff berth, but catching the fourth-place St. Louis Blues is not realistic for either team.
While the Kings were nine points back at the start of NHL play Tuesday, with six games to play, the Coyotes (22-25-6, 50 points) were five points back but have just three games to play. The Blues have six games remaining.
Arizona looked game for making a late-season charge, ending Vegas’ 10-game winning streak Friday then taking the Golden Knights to overtime Saturday to earn another point. But they appeared to lack the same energy against a Kings team that entered Monday 2-4-0 over its previous six games.
Arizona received goals from Christian Dvorak and Jakob Chychrun in Monday’s defeat but were unable to hold a 1-0 lead and could not break through in the third period. Chychrun’s 17th of the season keeps him in the lead for goals scored among all NHL defensemen.
It would take a major collapse by the Blues to get Arizona into the playoffs, even if it won each of its last three games, but the players refuse to give up hope.
“Anything can happen,” Coyotes forward Lawson Crouse said. “We have to go right to the end. … That’s all we can really ask, get as many points as you can, because you never really know until the last regular-season game ends.”
–Field Level Media