FINAL – Kings 4, Blue Jackets 1 – Doughty, Copley, McLellan

The LA Kings extended their point streak to eight games with a 4-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday evening at Arena.

The Kings got a multi-point night from forward Carl Grundstrom (1-1-2), while defenseman Drew Doughty and forwards Viktor Arvidsson and Anze Kopitar both scored in the victory. Goaltender Pheonix Copley made 29 saves on 30 shots to pick up his 21st victory of the season.

After a first period that saw neither side breakthrough, the Kings jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the middle stanza alone, their second consecutive game with four goals in the second period.

The Kings scored twice in less than three minutes to break open a scoreless game. First, Doughty walked his man at the right point, danced his way into the slot and eventually buried his own rebound on a terrific individual effort for his second goal in as many games. Just shy of three minutes later, Kopitar made it 2-0 as he got on the end of a tricky, between-the-legs pass from forward Quinton Byfield, for his 26th goal of the season.

A span of 72 seconds doubled the Kings’ advantage to four goals, the margin at the second intermission.

The second line combined on a tic-tac-toe passing play to extend the lead to three goals, as Arvidsson buried a one-timer off a cross-slot feed from forward Trevor Moore for his 19th goal of the season. Grundstrom made it 4-0 just over a minute later, after an outstanding individual effort of his own from below the goal line and along the boards, which he followed up with a top-glove shot from the right-hand circle for his eighth goal of the season.

Columbus buried the only goal from the third period, less than five minutes into the final frame, to bring us to the final score of 4-1. After a tough bounce off the boards, the puck kicked onto the stick of forward Kirill Marchenko and he beat Copley with a wrist shot from the tops of the circles to snap the shutout bid.

Hear from Doughty, Copley and Head Coach Todd McLellan following tonight’s win.

Drew Doughty

Pheonix Copley
On what he feels is most responsible for 7-0-1 over the last eight games
I think we’ve been playing good defense, good team defense. We’re kind of shutting teams down, keeping them to the outside and frustrating them. I think that’s kind of the basis of how we win, frustrating teams, and then we get our looks and we’ve got guys that can score. I think that’s been a big part, team defense.

On the team keeping shots to the outside makes his job easier in net
I think it kind of simplifies it for us. We know we have to make the first save and take care of the rebounds. Those guys are doing a good job of cleaning stuff up and keeping things to the outside. It simplifies our job for sure.

On the comfort level of getting four goals of support in the second period
I’ll never complain about scoring like that. We had a lot of good looks in the first, it just wasn’t going in and then in the second, they started going in. I thought it was a pretty complete game for us and in the second, we got rewarded.

Todd McLellan
On the team’s defensive play over the course of the eight-game point streak
Well, I go back to our numbers, I don’t even know what they are anymore, 2-2-2-2-1-2-1, something like that. It’s hard to keep teams to two goals against or less consistently and we’ve been able to do it for a while. It means you’re getting great goaltending, the penalty kill is probably doing its thing and four lines and three pairs of defensemen are committed to doing things right. I look at the goal we gave up tonight, we did everything we wanted to do or needed to do and it went off the ref’s foot, into the slot and they score. Those are going to get built into games or series and you have to be able to overcome them but just a complete commitment to doing what we do.

On concluding the season slate versus the Eastern Conference and the fight to the finish
As far as the east goes, we’re done and the best part about it is we don’t have to travel out that way, that can be taxing. The race to the end, for us, is just the next game, tomorrow’s practice. We don’t have to worry about Vancouver until we get there, but tomorrow’s practice will be important. Whether we skate a lot or just look at some things on the video and then clean up the legs quickly, I don’t know what we’ll do yet, but one day at a time.

On Drew Doughty’s goal, but also his defensive play to deny a 2-on-1 early
Maybe more important. I think maybe the most important two minutes were the first two minutes, where you start the game with the penalty 15 seconds in. Drew, yes he had a nice goal and he jumped into the rush today and those were really good things for him, we’re happy for him, but he consistently breaks up those moments and he was out there for a lot of that penalty kill. It was probably the most important two minutes of the game for us so that we could get our feet underneath us and keep going.

On if there was any adjusting done between the first and second periods tonight
I don’t know if there’s a big adjustment from the first to the second. Tarasov, their goaltender, made some really good saves in the first period. Hd some of them got in, we probably wouldn’t be answering this question. We didn’t have to adjust a lot but we needed to focus and stay with a game plan. It paid off in the second and then we checked our way to a win in the third.

On Trevor Moore looking more like himself on his second time returning from injury
Yeah, I think he looks more like he did earlier in the year and last year through this phase than he did the first one. The goal he scored the other night, I’m sure was a relief we spoke on that already, but his energy with that line matches now. It didn’t match the first time back but it doesn’t match now.

Notes –
– Carl Grundstrom (1-1-2) recorded his sixth career multi-point game and second of the season (2-0-2 on Oct. 31 at STL). With his sixth assist, Grundstrom matched his single-season career-high for assists set in 2021-22 (9-6-15).
– Drew Doughty scored his fifth goal of the season and his second in as many games. It is the first time this season Doughty has recorded goals in consecutive games.
– Anze Kopitar tallied his 26th goal on the year and the 20th of his career against Columbus. Among active NHL skaters, only Patrick Kane (24) and Alex Ovechkin (22) have scored more goals against the Blue Jackets than Kopitar. Kopitar now has five points (1-4-5) over his last four games.
– Viktor Arvidsson (1-0-1) registered his 19th goal of the campaign, one shy of matching his total from last season.
– Phillip Danault (0-1-1) recorded his 30th assist of the season, becoming the fourth Kings skater this season to reach the 30-assist mark (Kevin Fiala – 46; Drew Doughty – 38; Anze Kopitar – 37).
– Rasmus Kupari (0-1-1) recorded his ninth assist of the season, establishing a new single-season career high. Kupari now sits one point shy of tying his single-season career high in points (13) set in 2021-22.
– With another assist tonight, Quinton Byfield has now recorded a point in seven of his last eight games (1-6-7).
– Alex Edler skated in his 1,023rd career NHL games, surpassing Fredrik Olausson (1,022) for sole possession of fifth place on the games played list among Swedish-born defensemen in NHL history.
– The Kings scored four goals in the second period in back-to-back games (Mar. 14 vs. NYI) for the fourth time in franchise history: (Jan. 2, 1991vs. EDM and Jan 4, 1992 vs. PHI; Dec. 6, 1986 vs. CHI and Dec. 9, 1986 at NYI; Feb. 5, 1985 vs. NYR and Feb. 7, 1985 at PHI).
– The win marked the Kings’ 40th victory of the season, tying the 1990-91 Kings as the third-fastest team to reach the 40-win mark in a single season in franchise history (69 GP).

The Kings are scheduled to practice tomorrow at 11 AM at Toyota Sports Performance Center.

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