Top-line disappointment

There was optimism all around when Justin Williams returned from his broken leg last week and reunited with Anze Kopitar and Ryan Smyth on a first line that had tremendous success early this season. That success did not carry over to mid-March. In its three games together, the line did not generate a point in 5-on-5 situations. Smyth and Williams did not record a point at all, and Kopitar had a power-play goal.

So in the third period last night, Terry Murray switched it up, reuniting the Kopitar-Richardson-Simmonds line that had success in December. It seems as though the Kings will stay with it tomorrow against the Islanders…

MURRAY: “I watched that line together last night, when I put them together in the third period. They came out and they had a very good shift. They worked around the puck, they got it stopped, they had some O-zone time. That’s where our whole group has to get back to right now, is following that, following that kind of a shift. They gave it to us before, and we need that kind of look right now, to snap our attention back to where it needs to be, to follow through and be consistent in our performance.”

Murray also addressed the lack of production of the Kopitar-Smyth-Williams line in the last three games…

MURRAY: “I said I wanted to give the line an opportunity to work things out, with Willy coming back. There’s parts of it that seemed to be in pretty good order, and then there’s that play when you have a team like that, last night, who had a pretty good defensive posture through the middle of the ice. They had three or four guys back, because they were aware of missing two of their top defensemen. Their forwards were really responsible.

“When you play against that system, you’ve got to chip and you need to go get the puck. We were not getting it stopped and, in particular, Kopi’s line, with Smytty and Willy, I thought that part of it was lacking. We seemed to be playing that start-and-stop game again, from the offensive goal line back into our end. I just feel that needed to change in the third period. That’s why I changed the lines.”

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