With 12 shots in Game 3, could Kopitar’s line break out?
There has certainly been a healthy discussion about “That 70’s Line” in the Western Conference Final, and for a good reason – Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter and Tyler Toffoli have combined for 19 points over the last four games, dating back to Game 7 of the Anaheim series.
While the Marian Gaborik – Anze Kopitar – Dustin Brown line hasn’t been as productive – the trio has combined for one Kopitar assist this series, which came on Jake Muzzin’s Game 2 power play game winner – they generated several good looks in Game 3 despite their inability to hit pay dirt.
In Game 3, Corey Crawford stopped all 12 shots he faced from the Kings’ top line, a collection of saves that included several key stops on Marian Gaborik in high quality scoring areas.
“Yeah, I just tried to get there,” Gaborik said of his opportunities. “We’re talking about as a whole team to get in front of Crawford and make him feel uncomfortable there and keep him in net. That’s what we have to do, myself as well. We just have to keep doing it.”
Upon being reminded that the line didn’t account for a point in Game 3, Darryl Sutter said “They didn’t in Game 1 or 2, either.”
He also acknowledged the line’s tough assignments, and that it’s not only goals and assists that they’re graded on.
“They play a lot of minutes, and if it’s just based on scoring, then we’re going to have to win 7-6 or something,” Sutter said. “It’s not the way it works. You’ve got to keep goals against down, and if Kopi can do a good job against Toews, then it gives us a chance.”
Anze Kopitar, on how his line is performing in the series:
I’ve said it all along, I don’t think it really matters who scores goals and who is putting up points this time of year. Obviously for a team to be successful, you have to have your big guns going. Right now the 70 line is going, and we’re just trying to help and produce as much as we can. I think we’ve been fairly solid defensively, but there is some work left to be done in the offensive zone.
Kopitar, on whether he is getting the looks he is used to against Chicago:
I think you can ask all three of us and everybody is going to say we can play better and create more offense and everything. But we’re getting some good looks. Now it’s just a matter of cashing in. I think if we keep playing, keep creating chance, eventually it’s going to go in.