March 23 postgame quotes: Kopitar, Richards

Anze Kopitar, on whether this was their best game recently:
Yeah, in the last five, seven games I think. It was huge. We knew that the start of this road trip was going to be huge and I guess on the paper it was supposed to be the easiest game just because they’re not in a playoff position, but they’re a really good team. They’re a very structured team obviously and we wanted to make sure that we don’t come out easy. I thought we did a pretty good job in the first period.

Kopitar, on whether the return of Alec Martinez and Mike Richards provided a lift:
It’s great to have those guys back. Alec, just the presence back there and Mike, maybe it’s not going to show on the score sheet, but he’s a huge part of this team and we love having him back.

Kopitar, on what allowed them to have a successful first period:
We were making plays. We were protecting the puck well , playing in their zone and we were creating chances. I thought we’re doing all the right things that we said just before that period and then we drifted away just a tad in the second period and did it again in the third period, which is important.

Kopitar, on Andrej Sekera’s goal:
He just made a couple plays in the zone, had some puck possession and picked the corner pretty well. [Reporter: Is that a play that comes with chemistry?] I think that’s just a hockey play. I don’t think that’s… I mean that play happens quite a bit throughout the game.

Mike Richards, on his first game back:
Not bad, the first shift was a little hectic, chasing it a bit. After that, I thought it was alright and I felt more comfortable as the game went on.

Richards, on whether the NHL game moves faster than the AHL game:
Yeah, but it’s more controlled I think than it is down there. It gets pretty hectic sometimes. It’s quicker, the players are quicker and things happen a little quicker, but it’s also more controlled up here, too. Like I said, as the game went on I started to feel more comfortable.

Richards, on whether there was a long adjustment period for him:
The first shift, I just kept swatting the puck away. It didn’t seem like I wanted it, but it’s the first one and you just want to go out there and help out, contribute. Once I got my legs under me, started making plays, I started to feel better.

Richards, on whether it was easy to rejoin the team:
I thought it was easy. It’s guys that I’ve been with for four years now. So it doesn’t take much of an adjustment. Obviously everyone in the room did a good job welcoming me back and, like I said, I was excited to be here.

Richards, on whether he was nervous before the game:
I wouldn’t say I was nervous. I think I was more excited to get back out there. I’ve played a lot of them, so I don’t think nervous is the right word, but just more excited to get back with the guys and be on the ice again.

Richards, on whether the team can rely on their past experience in big games:
Yeah, I think so. It seems like we put ourselves in this position more so than not, so it’s unfortunate. You obviously want to be in at this point, but building towards playoffs and must-win games is something that we’re used to and we can draw from the past.

Richards, on whether the team has a relaxed attitude:
I think it’s a relaxed, focused attitude. Everyone knows what they need to do and they’re not Game 7s, but it’s starting to be crunch time now. I think everyone understands that.

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