FINAL – Kings 3, Jets 4 – Gavrikov, Thomas, Hiller

The LA Kings concluded their trip to Western Canada with a record of 1-3-0, following a narrow, 4-3 defeat against the Winnipeg Jets on Monday evening at Canada Life Centre.

After taking the bulk of the shots on goal in the first half of the first period, Winnipeg opened the scoring just over 11 minutes in. A shot from the point by defenseman Dylan DeMelo kicked off the endboards, back into a scrum in front of the net, where forward Cole Perfetti pulled the puck out and scored at the back post for a 1-0 Jets advantage.

Just over a minute later, the Kings tied the game at one through forward Viktor Arvidsson. Forward Trevor Moore created space down the left wing with a crisp pass through the neutral zone, giving Arvidsson speed and possession entering the offensive zone. Arvidsson wound up from the left-hand circle and beat Winnipeg netminder Laurent Brossoit clean with a slapshot to tie the game at one.

Approaching six minutes into the second period, the visitors took their first lead of the evening through forward Kevin Fiala, who pulled the Kings ahead 2-1. After taking a pass from defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov in the corner, Fiala drove the puck into the slot on his backhand, spun onto his forehand and beat Brossoit clean on the glove side for his 25th goal of the season.

Winnipeg equalized just shy of six minutes after Fiala’s goal, with forward Sean Monahan scoring for the Jets. Stationed on the right-wing boards, defenseman Josh Morrissey sent a puck towards the slot, with Monahan providing both the screen and the deflection, thorugh the legs of Kings netminder Cam Talbot and in for a 2-2 scoreline.

The teams then traded goals just 59 seconds apart, sending the game into the second intermission tied at three after a back-and-forth second period.

First, forward Anze Kopitar buried his 26th goal of the season, tying him with Moore for the LA Kings team lead. Working out of the corner, forward Adrian Kempe fed Kopitar in the slot, where the captain collected and fired top glove in short order, beating Brossoit for the goal and a 3-2 advantage.

Morrissey answered for the Jets just shy of one minute later, however, pushing the score to 3-3 late in the second period. Attacking the offensive zone off the rush, forwards Connor and Perfetti combined to work then puck to Morrissey in the slot, where he buried first time to knot the score through 40 minutes of play.

The Jets found the eventual game-winning goal just over 13 minutes into the third period, coming two seconds after a power play had expired. Just after Moore narrowly missed at one end of the ice on a shorthanded breakaway, the puck found Perfetti in the right-hand circle and buried his second goal of the evening, past Kings netminder Cam Talbot, for a 4-3 advantage that would hold up as the eventual final score.

Hear from Gavrikov, forward Akil Thomas and Head Coach Jim Hiller following tonight’s game.

Vladislav Gavrikov

Akil Thomas
On the feeling of being an NHL player for the first time

It feels great. It’s kind of a crazy couple of days, a lot to be taken in pretty quick. I’m very thankful to be here.

On the differences he noticed between the AHL and the NHL
Yeah, there are not many mistakes and when you do make mistakes, it ends up in the back of the net or almost. Everyone is a good player, there’s a lot of good plays out there and not really much room.

On the differences he noticed between the AHL and the NHL
Yeah, for sure. The first couple of shifts were in the d-zone and it was good to kind of turn it around in the second and get a couple hits, feel a little more like myself.

On what it meant to him to have so much support in the stands tonight
It means the world. It’s been a long time coming, with the injuries and everything, so I’m very thankful for the opportunity. Having people to come out and support it means the world to me.

On what he might want to do differently if he gets into another NHL game
I’m just going to do the little details a little bit better. I think I was 0-2 on draws and I missed a couple shots to be blocked, but I think just the little details. It’s playoff hockey. So I’m not sure how many opportunities I’m going to get, but I just want to have a little bit better of a showing next time.

Jim Hiller
On his takeaways from tonight’s game

We had a lot of guys that played pretty hard, I thought. They’re good team, they were desperate, I thought it was good hockey game both ways. We had a breakaway, they come back and get another one, it’s that close.

On being “too cute” in the first period and passing up too many chances early
We missed a couple, yeah, we had a couple of weeks right between the hashmarks that we didn’t shoot, so you wonder why you’re doing that. We shot more for sure [in the second and third], we still had opportunities, probably could have put a few more at the net. Overall, the effort is good, the result is bad.

On the team’s play at even strength tonight
Some really good looks. We had a couple others just rattling around, hit bodies in front, had some good screens. I don’t know what to say. Right now I can only focus on Mooresie, I saw him go down on the breakaway, it’s just heartbreaking when it happens that way, what was it 10 seconds later, they come down and score the other way. We’ve seen that in hockey before, nut nothing to hang our heads about. We’ll regroup, get a rest and we’ll get ready for the next game.

On how Akil Thomas handled his NHL debut
He didn’t play that much, but he was fine. The speed of this game and the physicality, it’s a tough one to walk into for your first game, I can tell you that. He showed himself well. He didn’t play that much and if he gets another one, he’ll probably end up playing a little bit more.

On Blake Lizotte elevating his game with Phillip Danault injured
He’s played so well, for such a long time. We were playing with 11 forwards, he was playing 12 13, 14 minutes a night with 11, so he’s done a great job. He gives you everything he’s got, you know that, every time and he’s really carried the puck and he’s been dangerous for us offensively too.

Notes –
– Viktor Arvidsson (1-0=1) notched his second goal of the season and now has tallies in back-to-back games against the Winnipeg Jets (2-0=2, March 25, 2023).
– Kevin Fiala (1-0=1) scored his 25th goal of the season, extending his point streak against the Jets to a fifth game (1-4=5), dating back to Oct. 27, 2022. With the marker, Fiala reached the quarter-century mark for the second time in his career (33G, 2021-22), joining Timo Meier (3x) as the only Swiss-born skaters in league history to record multiple 25-goal seasons.
– Anže Kopitar (1-0=1) tallied his 26th goal of the season, tying teammate Trevor Moore for the team lead in goals and extending his point streak against the Jets to a fifth game (6-2-8), dating back to Feb. 28, 2023. With the goal, Kopitar has now recorded eight goals and 13 points (8-5=13) over his last nine contests.
– Trevor Moore (0-1=1) tallied his 24th assist of the season for his 50th point (26-24=50) of the campaign, the first 50-point season of his career. Moore becomes 16th different undrafted Kings skater in franchise history to score 50 points in a season, and the first to do so since Wayne Gretzky (15-66=81) in 1995-96. Moore also joins Jason Zucker (1x), Jason Robertson (3x) and Auston Matthews (8x) as the only California-born skaters in NHL history to record a 50-point season. With the assist, Moore now has five points (2-3=5) over his last four visits to Canada Life Centre, dating back to Nov. 13, 2021.
– Adrian Kempe (0-1=1) recorded his 43rd assist of the season. Kempe has now picked up nine assists (2-9=11) over his last seven games, dating back to March 19, 2024. Kempe’s 43 assists are the third most assists in a season by a Kings skater of Swedish nationality, trailing only Tomas Sandstrom (44A, 1990-91) and Juha Widing (54A, 1972-73).
– Drew Doughty (0-1=1) picked up his 32nd assist of the season for his 20th career point (2-18=20) against the Winnipeg Jets, becoming the second skater in team history to record 20 points against the modern Jets franchise, joining Anže Kopitar (16-20=36).
– Vladislav Gavrikov (0-2=2) registered a pair of helpers as part of his fourth multi-point game of the year.
Akil Thomas made his NHL debut tonight, joining Alex Laferriere (Oct. 14, 2023) as the second Kings skater to make their first NHL appearance this season. Thomas is the 26th different skater to play a game with the Kings this season. Thomas (51st overall) joins Rasmus Kupari (20th Overall) as the only skaters selected by the Kings in the 2018 NHL Draft to play a regular season game for the franchise.

The Kings are scheduled to travel back to Los Angeles following tonight’s game. The team will return to the ice at Toyota Sports Performance Center on Wednesday at 10:30 AM for a morning skate, in advance of that evening’s game versus Seattle.

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