FINAL – Kings 4, Avalanche 1 – Kopitar, Byfield, McLellan

The LA Kings concluded a three-game homestand with a 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday evening at Arena.

It was the visitors, however, who scored the lone goal of the first period to take a 1-0 lead heading into the first intermission. The forward duo of Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen gained the offensive zone with possession, before Rantanen hit trailing defenseman Josh Manson, who scored the game’s first goal off the rush, his first tally of the season.

The Kings pushed back midway through the second period through forward Quinton Byfield, who equalized the game at one goal apiece with his fifth tally of the season. With the Kings advancing off the rush, Byfield drove towards the net and got a stick on a slap-pass from defenseman Mikey Anderson, deflecting the puck past Colorado netminder Alexandar Georgiev for the game-tying goal. Byfield tied a career high in the NHL for goals in a season, coming in game 21.

With two goals in less than 60 seconds, the Kings pulled ahead 3-1 late in the third period.

First, Byfield buried his second goal of the game with a slam-dunk finish, off a tic-tac-toe passing play, to pull the hosts ahead 2-1. The final pass came from forward Adrian Kempe, who picked up his second assist of the game with the primary helper. Forward Anze Kopitar also collected an assist on the play, the 758th of his NHL career, surpassing forward Marcel Dionne for the most in franchise history. Byfield’s goal set a new season-high with his sixth goal from 21 games played.

Just 56 seconds later, the Kings snagged an insurance goal from forward Trevor Moore, who extended his team-leading total to 12 on the season. Shooting from what appeared to be an impossible angle, Moore snapped a shot underneath the crossbar, high on the glove side, to push his team ahead 3-1. Forward Carl Grundstrom tallied the lone assist on the play.

With just over a minute remaining in regulation, defenseman Drew Doughty picked the empty net from distance, sealing the win at 4-1. Goaltender Cam Talbot collected the only assist on the play, his first point as an LA King.

Hear from Kopitar, Byfield and Head Coach Todd McLellan following tonight’s win.

Anze Kopitar

Quinton Byfield
On being a part of another milestone moment for his linemate, Anze Kopitar
He’s a special player. Every time he gets one, we celebrate a little bit and I’m super happy for him. As I said, to be a part of his journey, when he’s hitting all these milestones, is pretty special. Growing up, you watch guys like that and just being able to play alongside him and watch him break all these records is pretty cool.

On his two goals tonight, both created by getting to the net
I just try to go to the net and get my stick down. Playing with Juice and Kopi, two great passers, so just get there. Yeah, good things happened tonight and I’m happy about that.

On the team’s play in the third period tonight
I thought we were hungry, we took advantage of a team that was playing back-to-back. Those third periods going off back-to-back are a little bit tougher, but we kind of started off slow in the game and each period we got better. I liked how we just kept rolling and everyone’s playing good, so it was a lot of fun.

On getting rewarded more offensively this season, after putting in the work to get here
It feels good. I feel like I was improving every year and more confidence over time, as well as chemistry too, I’ve played with those guys for a little bit now, so I’m really comfortable there. I just find myself comfortable, more and more, every time I get on the ice. Confidence, comfortability and chemistry I think are key ones.

Todd McLellan
On another milestone evening for forward Anze Kopitar
I don’t even know what to say anymore, because I say the same thing over and over again. He means a lot to this team, he’s meant a lot to the 18 other teams he’s played on here. Champion, Hall of Famer in my opinion, I’m sure in everybody’s opinion. We’re so lucky to have him, because he’s such a good teaching tool for everybody. You watch him do it right, over and over and over again, and you can’t help yourself but try and emulate it. We’re real fortunate to do that and have that and the hope there’s more records to come.

On the team’s play throughout the night, leading into the third-period surge
It was a tough night for us and we knew it would be a tough night for them. It’s hard in this league to play four games in six nights. It doesn’t matter where you are in the standings, what type of team you have, especially with travel, so I thought that the Avalanche played really well. They were quicker than us, they executed better in the first period, but I don’t know if we expected that to happen, but we played our way through and we got better as the night went on. In the third, we kind of got our jump back and were aggressive again, but you have to give them credit for playing as hard as they did. They are a championship quality team, to push like they did in the first two periods.

On another goal for Trevor Moore, who leads the team so far this season
I always talk about his escape skills and it was real evident. Grunny had a big play in it too, to be part of the forecheck and create a situation where Mooresy was allowed to do what he did, but Trev is very sneaky, he’s very quick, he’s very relaxed when he’s doing that. He’s got goalscoring hands right now and that’s a real good thing for him.

On Byfield getting two more goals by getting himself to the front of the net
I think that Q has always wanted to do that. I think he arrived here and he wanted to, but he probably didn’t quite understand how hard it was. You go in there and you’re not really that hard or that prepared for it and you don’t get those results. You put his whole game together and now he’s confident to go in there, he has the ability to stand in and take a blow and still get a stick on a puck. Those were things that he didn’t have when he first got here, not because he couldn’t do them, it’s just he hadn’t experienced it. It’s the difference between junior and the NHL, that’s the difference between 18 and 21 now.

On Drew Doughty getting rewarded for a strong night with the empty-net goal
Drew plays a lot of minutes for us and he was excited when he got the empty netter and I bet he was excited for himself but maybe more for Talbs, because Talbs touched the puck and Talbs got an assist. That’s just the way he is, he’s wired that way. You could probably go ask him which, for him, was the most important play, or the play he was most proud of, it was probably breaking up the 2-on-1, incredible stick. When he’s on, his stick is so good, it’s on the ice and he’s getting touches or ticks on pucks, breaking things up, reading where the play is going and killing it. So, when his stick is like it was in that situation, he’s on.

Notes –
– Quinton Byfield (2-0=2) scored his fifth and sixth goals of the season, setting a new single season career-high. With his pair of goals, Byfield extended his point streak against Colorado to four games (3-2=5) and becomes just the third Kings skater in franchise history 21 years of age or younger to establish a point streak of at least four games against Colorado, joining Drew Doughty (3-8=11 in 9GP from Jan. 21, 2009 – Oct. 30, 2011), and Anze Kopitar (3-3=6 in 5GP from Feb. 24, 2007 – Mar. 1, 2008).
– Drew Doughty (1-0=1) scored his fifth goal of the season. His nine career goals against the Avalanche are the third-most among active blueliners against Colorado, behind only Brent Burns (18) and Roman Josi (14).
– Anze Kopitar (0-1=1) tallied his 10th assist of the season for the 758th of his career, surpassing Marcel Dionne (757) for the most assists in franchise history. Kopitar’s 43 career assists against Colorado tie Mark Messier for the 15th most all-time.
– Kopitar’s 20th point (10-10=20) of the season extends his active-point streak against Colorado to four games (1-7=8). Kopitar is just the second different Kings skater in the last 20 years to tally eight points in a four-game span against Colorado, joining Mike Cammalleri (2x, Last: 2-6=8 from Nov. 7, 2006 – Dec. 1, 2007).
– Adrian Kempe (0-2=2) registered two assists to bring his season point total to a team-leading 22 (8-14=22). Kempe has recorded seven points (4-3=7) in his last four games against the Avalanche.
– Mikey Anderson (0-1=1) collected his eighth assist of the campaign and his fifth at Arena this season. Anderson’s five home assists are the most among Kings defensemen this season.
– Carl Grundstrom (0-1=1) recorded his second assist of the season.
– Cam Talbot stopped 20 of 21 shots faced to secure his 11th win of the campaign and improve his record to 11-4-1. Talbot also picked up an assist on Drew Doughty’s empty-net goal, his first assist as a member of the Kings, and the fifth assist of his career. Talbot’s assist is the first recorded by a Kings goaltender since Pheonix Copley (1A, Dec. 17, 2022 vs. SJS).
– Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty each recorded a point in a game for the 378th time in their tenures, improving the clubs record to 251-92-35 in regular-season contests when both players get on the score sheet.

The Kings have a travel day tomorrow, as they head to Columbus to begin a four-game roadtrip. The team will return to the ice on Tuesday, December 5 for morning skate at Nationwide Arena, beginning at 8:30 AM Pacific, 11:30 AM local.

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