The LA Kings grinded out two points on the road, as they won by a 4-3 margin over the Florida Panthers on Friday evening at the FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida.
The Kings got shorthanded goals from Viktor Arvidsson and Adrian Kempe, as well as an even-strength tally from Anze Kopitar and an empty-net goal from Matt Roy in the win. Goaltender Pheonix Copley made 45 saves in the victory, a season-high, as he earned his 15th win of the season.
The Kings scored twice in the opening 20 minutes to take a 2-0 lead into the first intermission.
First, with more than 13 minutes elapsed after the puck dropped, Kopitar kept his run of scoring going with his 15th goal of the season. Kempe got things started with puck protection and strength along the boards, before he dished to linemate Quinton Byfield. Byfield then hit Kopitar in front for the backhanded goal. Kempe made it 2-0 just over two minutes from the intermission as he took a Blake Lizotte feed off the rush and fired home shorthanded for his team-leading 20th goal of the season.
The visitors opened the scoring in the second period as well, taking a 3-0 lead midway through the contest. Just as the Kings went a man down after a 4-on-4 sequence, Arvidsson scored his first shorthanded goal of the season, his team’s second of the night, off a pass from defenseman Mikey Anderson. Arvidsson’s goal was his 13th of the season overall.
Florida struck twice in the back half of the second period to move within a goal through 40 minutes. First, the hosts capitalized off of a misplayed exchange behind the net, with forward Ryan Lomberg scoring seconds later. Less than four minutes from the intermission, defenseman Brandon Montour was uncovered at the left point, walked in and fired past Copley for his ninth goal of the season.
The Kings opened up a two-goal advantage once again through Roy, who picked the empty net with 62 seconds left. Florida added a late response goal, coming from forward Carter Verhaeghe, but LA held on for the 4-3 victory away from home, improving to 3-1-0 on their current six-game trip.
On finding a way through towards a difficult win on the road
Yeah, good character win. I think we played alright in the third, obviously the second wasn’t our best period. We played well in the first, into the second, then we gave it back in the last 5, 10 minutes. After that, we knew they were going to push and I think we did a good job, all the way until the last minute. They have a lot of skill on their own, we knew they were going to get some chances, but obviously we’ve got to sort of keep it out as much as possible.
On the performance of the penalty-killing unit tonight
Yeah, it was great. The amount of time they had on the powerplay it’s hard enough to keep them out for an entire thing, but I think we did a great job of saying aggressive in the zone. I think they’ve got great players, but we didn’t give them a lot of chances. That was definitely a big factor.
On what Quinton Byfield has brought to his line
It’s been great, ever since he came up, he’s been getting better and better every game. Board work has been excellent, his speed and playing physical and everything, it’s been really good and he makes great plays, he made one today to Kopi. Just got to keep that going. He’s been playing consistently in the d-zone and all around, it’s fun to watch and to play with him.
On coming away with the win from a difficult performance
It was a bit of relief there at the end, we’re glad we could hit the empty net, we wish we didn’t make it so interesting there. Happy to get the two points and we’re looking forward to tomorrow.
On Pheonix Copley’s performance tonight and the penalty-killing effort of the group
It’s great, congratulations to him and I think with all of those penalty kills, it was a challenge for us and we knew that during the game. You need your goalie to be the best killer out there and he did a great job.
On what’s important to carry into tomorrow’s game in Tampa Bay
Back-to-back here, I think we just need to keep things simple and stick to our game. We’ve got to play with some passion out there [in Tampa Bay].
On finding a way to get the two points from a difficult evening
We can look at it from a positive perspective, good teams when the momentum swings as much as it did tonight find ways to win and that’s what we did. From the negative side, we’re up 3-0 and a couple of quick goals put us on our heels, so we have work to do and growth to gain when those things happen. They’re a tough team to play, they’ve got a lot of offensive weapons, in my opinion, they’re feeling it now. They look much more like the team that we played last year than at the beginning of the season, so we’re fortunate to come away. We’ll take the points and we’ll move on and hopefully there’ll be the rest of the teams from the West.
On the effort and performance from the penalty kill tonight and as of late
I think our penalty kill has done an exceptional job lately, starts with the goaltenders, moves to the backend and then the forwards. We have some pressure and we have some principles and they’re showing up together at the same time, but we were getting scored on earlier in the year, maybe we didn’t have that as much. It had to work a little too much tonight, even our power play, the first one was what, 15 seconds, or something like that. Momentum was gained and maybe lost on their behalf because we did get 2 shorties, but three from special teams tonight.
On bounceback performances from Pheonix Copley over the last three wins
He’s finding a way to win some games and that’s really important for us right now. Trent Yawney has a saying sometimes, the artwork has to hang in the basement, not upstairs. They’re not always pretty for our team, not just Copley, and tonight was one of them and we’ll take it. He’s done a tremendous job in coming in and settling everybody down and winning games.
On the explanation regarding the five-minute major in the second period
Apparently, this is how it goes with the rules and apparently there’s a rule that if a player is tripped and goes violently into the board and so they can review it for major, but there’s no such thing as a major for tripping, so they converted. to a boarding penalty. In that situation, they obviously weren’t going to call anything to begin with, linesmen got involved, they reviewed it like they should and then assessed the major. After the major you review again and that’s what they came up with. Confusing, but you never want to see anybody go into the end wall but it’s new, something I haven’t experienced.
– Adrian Kempe (1-1-2) scored his team-leading 20th goal of the year, eclipsing the 20-goal mark for the second consecutive season. Kempe becomes the fifth Kings skater in the past 10 years to record consecutive 20-goal campaigns: Jeff Carter (2012-13 – 2016-17), Anze Kopitar (2017-18 – 2019-20), Dustin Brown (2017-18 – 2018-19) and Tyler Toffoli (2014-15 – 2015-16). Kempe’s goal was also his seventh career shorthanded goal.
– Anze Kopitar eclipsed the 40-point plateau (15-25-40) for the 17th consecutive season with the game-opening goal. He joins Alex Ovechkin (17) as the only active players in the league to accomplish such a feat.
– Viktor Arvidsson (1-0-1) tallied his 13th goal of the season and 11th shorthanded goal of his career with a second-period tally.
– With Kempe and Arvidsson’s shorthanded goals, the Kings scored multiple shorthanded goals in a single game for the 23rd time in franchise history and first since 11/3/18 vs. Columbus (Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown).
– Matt Roy added an empty net goal late in the third, which stood as the game-winning goal for the second of his career.
– Quinton Byfield notched his 20th career NHL point with his assist on Kopitar’s first-period goal. Per NHL PR, Byfield (20 years, 161 days) is the second Kings player in the past 10 years to hit such a mark at age 20 or younger (Arthur Kaliyev, 20 years and 253 days, March 6, 2021).
– Mikey Anderson picked up an assist on Arvidsson’s goal for his 12th point of the campaign, establishing a new single-season, career-high (1-10-11 in 2020-21).
– Pheonix Copley stopped 45-of-48 shots, a single-game, career-high for saves and shots against. He improved his record to 15-3-0 on the season.
– Todd McLellan won his 556th career game as an NHL head coach, tying Marc Crawford for the 23rd-most wins by a head coach in league history. It also marked his 122nd win over the LA Kings, tying Larry Robinson for fifth-most in franchise history.
The Kings are not scheduled to practice tomorrow, considering the back-to-back. The team is back in action tomorrow evening in Tampa Bay for a 4:00 PM Pacific puck drop.