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Kopitar nets 100th goal, adds another in Kings' win over Blue Jackets

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Jonathan Quick handled the first two minutes, and teammate Anze Kopitar took over from there.

Quick, the Los Angeles goalie, made seven saves - most on point-blank shots - at the outset and Kopitar scored his 100th and 101st NHL goals in the Kings' 4-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.

Quick was at his best during a Columbus blitz before most fans found their seats. He stopped seven shots in a span of 50 seconds.

"It was a little chaotic there," said Quick, who finished with 29 saves. "They came out hard, they came out flying. We got a couple of bounces there at the beginning. We were fortunate to have it 0-0 after the first 10 minutes."

Despite the Kings being outshot 12-4 to that point, Matt Greene scored at 11:05 of the first. Los Angeles dominated the rest of the way to match a season high with a fourth consecutive win - a feat accomplished four times.

Kopitar, one of the finest young players in the league, has points in each game of the Kings' winning streak. He has three goals and four assists in that span.

"He's an elite player," said Los Angeles forward Ryan Smyth, who also had a goal. "For him to grab a hold of 100 goals - and counting - is awesome. It's nice to see. Obviously he works hard; not only offensively, but defensively. He's a well-rounded hockey player."

Kopitar happily showed off the puck he netted for his 100th.

"It's pretty special," he said. "When you see the guys reaching 300, 400, 500, you know - those big guns - it's pretty nice just to think of that. I've got it started. A little milestone. I'm ready to score a couple more now, too."

With Los Angeles ahead 1-0 late in the second period, Kopitar scored No. 100 in his 289th career game. Wayne Simmonds' stretch pass to Smyth ignited a Kings rush. Smyth then dropped a pass to Kopitar, who carried the puck right to left through the high slot and wristed a hard shot that beat goalie Steve Mason on the stick side.

Kopitar scored again - his 22nd of the season - with a second left on a power play after the Blue Jackets had already killed 1:33 of a two-man disadvantage. He lifted a rebound of his shot into the top of the net.

The Kings came in with the league's sixth-best road record and are 17-10-1 away from home. They have won five straight on the road.

"We seem to play really good on the road," Kopitar said. "The first 10 minutes we were just flat-footed. Quickie stood tall for us and made some crucial saves. With Greenie scoring that goal, it was just a big relief on the bench. After that, we kind of got our game back and (started) making good decisions again."

The Kings, who haven't been in the post-season since 2002, are motivated to be doing more in April than making tee times.

"(The) playoffs are the driving force," coach Terry Murray said. "We had a great start to the season and we hit some bumps along the road, hit a little bit of a dry spell. The next thing you know, we're right there on that cutoff line. It was important to get back in the thick of things with playing better hockey. We just stayed with it."

Now the Kings are safely among the top eight in the West.

The same can't be said for the Blue Jackets, who are a disappointing 21-26-9 after making the playoffs for the first time last year. They wilted after failing to score in the opening minutes, then appeared to concede after Greene's goal.

They were booed as they left the ice.

"We got discouraged, lost our intensity and stopped doing the (good) things we were doing," Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock said. "As soon as we got scored on, we lost our energy."

Antoine Vermette ended Quick's shutout bid with his 17th goal midway through the third period.

It was another frustrating effort for Mason (13-18-6). Last season's NHL rookie of the year, Mason has not won consecutive starts since Oct. 17, the sixth game of the season.

NOTES: The Blue Jackets were 10-2-1 in their last 13 home meetings with the Kings, since 2002-03. ... Greene's goal was only his second of the season in 49 games. ... R.J. Umberger had four of Columbus' shots in the early surge and had five shots in the opening period.


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