Rapid Reaction, feat. Josh Cooper of The Athletic
Willie Desjardins, on the team’s response after St. Louis’ third period equalizer:
I thought that our response was good. I thought it was good after we went down 2-0, t oo. That was a big goal right at the end of the first. That was something we’d talked about before, how we’d respond, and I think the group was pretty determined after the last game that we wanted a little bit more out of tonight.
Desjardins, on the team taking the loss in Colorado personally:
I do believe there’s lots of character in that room. It’s funny – like, we seem to play good when teams are on a roll, or whenever we get hot teams, we seem to rise and play well. I think we have lots of good leadership, and when things don’t go right, I think those guys step up and get us going the right way.
Desjardins, on wondering why the team can’t produce consistent results:
I think you always do that as a coach, because if you see it once then it’s why can’t you see it all the time, and we’ve talked about that in the room. Those exact words have been said. We’ve shown t hat we can do it at different times. We just have to get more consistent, and that’s something that we have to do.
Desjardins, on whether he’ll stay in Los Angeles or get away for the extended break:
I’ll get away. This is a big break. It’s a big [inaudible]. We’ll take some time off here. I think everybody will take a little bit of time off and then reassess it here as we get towards the end of that break.
Desjardins, on Brendan Leipsic:
Yeah, he was a guy we picked up off the waivers. When we watch him, he has some skill, up-end skill, and he’s done it for us. He’s made some good plays. He’s a good passer, he’s good on the power play, and that last pass was a good one to get the winner.
Desjardins, on the impetus to play Alex Iafallo, as opposed to Ilya Kovalchuk, next to Anze Kopitar:
There is a match sometimes, depending on the lines they’re going to play against. You look at it, I think that A.I. is a hard worker, he probably makes the line a little bit more defensive. Kovalchuk’s certainly got an offensive skill, though.
Desjardins, on whether a playoff spot is within reach:
As a coach, my job is to find ways to win. Like, I’ve got to find ways to win and keep working at that. It is kind of surprising, because I feel we can play better, and yet we’re still not totally out of it. It’s still around. We’ve got good goaltending, and whenever you have good goaltender, then you have a chance. If we do get a few things better, I think we can play better. I still think we have more. But we have had some time where we haven’t got it going yet. We have to stay on it.
Anze Kopitar, on Dustin Brown:
… He shows up every night, there’s no question that he plays hard, he’s going to give you one hundred percent every night and he doesn’t play — how do I say — very easy hockey. I mean those are hard minutes that he logs up and that he’s playing every time and, you know, sometimes it takes a toll, but he just battles right through.
Kopitar, on getting a win in right before the All-Star break:
It feels good obviously. You want to kind of finish on a good note and going into the break now just reset and come back and win games.
Kopitar, on bouncing back after Saturday’s 7-1 loss to Colorado:
That was embarrassing to say the least in Colorado, so coming in here we wanted to come out hard. Obviously not the start we wanted, but we battled back. Even the first period, we were down, but we generated a few chances just couldn’t connect on them. But we stuck with it and at the end of the day, got the job done.
Kopitar, on how he approaches the break:
Well I mean the break is what? Seven days now? So you turn it off for a couple and slowly when it’s time to turn it on you start thinking about it and get ready for it.
Brendan Leipsic, on putting in a good effort for the final ten minutes of play:
We made it a bit of a common thing to sit back a little bit once we have a lead going into the third, so I thought we played well. Early in the third they got a power play goal, but we kept pushing and, you know, Paulie made a great shot there and it was enough to hold up.
Leipsic, on his level of confidence right now:
Yeah I think so, you know, once you feel the puck early, you know we get that confidence. Playing with two great players, Toff and Carts, I just try and mesh in as much as I can and read off them and we were able to get a couple bounces tonight.
Leipsic, on if there is anything that needs to be said in the final game before the All-Star break:
Not really, you know, we’ve all been in this situation before. We’re all professionals. This is what we do. It’s easy to lose focus I guess, but just got to take care of business for 60 minutes and then we can relax and reenergize for the second half.
Paul LaDue, on what he saw on his goal:
I kind of knew he was sliding over, so tried to go that side, tried to get it up. I’m not sure, was it deflected a little bit? I couldn’t tell either, but left side’s my spot and I knew he was sliding over so I just tried to find that side.
LaDue, on whether there was anything said after St. Louis tied it up in the third:
Yeah, I think almost that woke us up a little in the third. We were struggling a little bit and then they got that goal and didn’t agree with the call, but it is what it is and I think that woke us up and kind of got us going and we knew we had to win this game. It was a big game after what happened in Colorado, so the boys just came together and played really well in the stretch there.
LaDue, on making a mark in today’s game after having been out of the lineup:
You know, obviously it’s a little tough not playing for a while, but after the first few shifts, you’re right back into it and you know it was a great play by Leiper. I saw the opening and he made a pass I think through a guy’s skates so it was a great play by him and it felt good to get that one.
LaDue, on Brendan Leipsic playing with good tempo and energy:
Yeah he did. He played really good and he was making plays all over the ice and you know we knew he could do that, e’s been doing that all year for us, but it was good to capitalize for him there.
LaDue, on getting the game-winner:
It’s great, especially to get the game winner to seal the deal there. That was unbelievable. It was a huge team win and we really needed that one so it felt pretty good.
–With the win, Los Angeles improved to 78-100-26 all-time against St. Louis, a record that includes a home mark of 49-38-14. With regulation wins in the first two games of the season series, the Kings have clinched the season series versus the Blues for the first time since the 2014-15 season. Including playoffs, Los Angeles has won 23 of the last 34 games in the head-to-head series. These teams have one game remaining: March 7 at Staples Center.
–With the win, the Kings improved to 14-15-2 against the Western Conference, 6-7-1 against the Central Division, 9-4-4 in one-goal games, 6-22-3 when their opponent scores first, 3-17-2 when trailing after the first period, 15-1-1 when leading after the second period and 13-17-3 when outshot by their opponent.
–Los Angeles finished 3-7-1 in October, 6-9-0 in November, 7-5-2 in December and 4-5-1 in January.
–The Kings won for the second time this season when trailing by two goals in a game (also October 28 vs. New York Rangers).
–Jonathan Quick stopped 33-of-36 shots to win his 302nd career NHL game, surpassing Mike Richter for fourth place all-time among American goaltenders. He trails John Vanbiesbrouck (374), Ryan Miller (374) and Tom Barrasso (369) among U.S. born goalies.
–Anze Kopitar (1-1=2) tallied his team-leading seventh multi-point game of the season. He leads the team with 34 points (14-20=34).
–Brendan Leipsic (0-2=2) registered his first multi-point game as a King and second of the season.
–Los Angeles attempted 49 shots (29 on goal, 11 blocked, 9 missed). St. Louis attempted 61 shots (36 on goal, 13 blocked, 12 missed). Alexander Steen led all skaters with six shots on goal, while Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter tied for the team lead with four.
–The Kings won 29-of-60 faceoffs (48%). The Blues won the first eight faceoffs of the game. Adrian Kempe was 4-for-15, Anze Kopitar was 11-of-22, Ilya Kovalchuk was 1-of-1, Nate Thompson won 4-of-5 and Jeff Carter won 9-of-17.
The Kings are currently on their bye week, which will be followed by the All-Star break. They are not scheduled to practice at Toyota Sports Center until either February 12 or 13. The next home game is Thursday, February 14 versus Vancouver.
–Lead photo via Adam Pantozzi/NHLI