Gaborik, Kopitar carry Kings to sixth win in row
LOS ANGELES -- The third period was full of milestones for the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night.
Marian Gaborik scored twice, the second representing the 400th goal and 800th point of his NHL career, Anze Kopitar recorded his 500th career assist, and the Kings came from behind to win their sixth consecutive game, beating the Minnesota Wild 5-2 at Staples Center.
“That’s probably as good a third period as we’ve had this year,” Kings coach John Stevens said.
Gaborik, who scored the first goal in Wild history and remains the franchise leader in several categories, was moved up to Los Angeles’ top line with Kopitar and Dustin Brown late in the second period, and the trio quickly produced results.
Gaborik finished a two-on-one with Anze Kopitar to tie the score 2-2 at 4:35 of the third period.
Kopitar held the puck until Minnesota defenseman Ryan Suter and goaltender Devan Dubnyk committed to a shot, but Kopitar quickly slid the puck to Gaborik on his left, and Gaborik scored into the open side.
Gaborik was playing in his seventh game this season after missing the first seven weeks following knee surgery in April.
“I don’t know. It’s still just one-quarter of the season, the lines always change,” Gaborik said when asked about his new line combination. “Whoever plays with anybody, we have a strong team and we trust in each other, and hopefully we can keep it up.”
After Adrian Kempe put Los Angeles in front at 12:38, Gaborik made it 4-2 with six minutes left when he shot through traffic and the puck went off the stick of Wild defenseman Matt Dumba and past Dubnyk.
Kopitar received his second assist on the play, the 500th of his career, and he scored an empty-net goal with 56 seconds left.
“Kopi’s just been a horse all year, and Gabby’s worked so hard to come back and really wants to play and be a productive player,” Stevens said. “It’s kind of fitting that those two guys would partner up on a milestone like that.”
Jake Muzzin had a goal and an assist, Drew Doughty added three assists, and Jonathan Quick made 19 saves for Los Angeles (18-8-3).
Charlie Coyle and Tyler Ennis scored and Dubnyk made 23 saves for Minnesota (13-11-3).
The Wild were on the front end of a three-game trip that also includes games against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday and the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
“We got to make sure we’re doing the right things defensively,” Coyle said. “We’ve got to find a way. It’s disappointing.”
Kempe put the Kings on top when he tossed the puck toward the Minnesota goal from the sidewall. Dubnyk poked the puck away, but it went off the skate of Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin and back across the goal line.
“When they put their push on, we just didn’t do anything about it,” Wild coach Bruce Boudreau said.
After neither team scored the first 30 minutes, the Wild and Kings combined for three goals in a 4:04 span of the second period.
Coyle gave Minnesota a 1-0 lead when he redirected a pass from Chris Stewart at 10:30.
Daniel Winnik started the play when he dropped a pass to Stewart, who shot from the far edge of the right circle. Coyle had a step on Kempe and used his backhand to redirect the puck for his second goal of the season.
The Kings tied the score at 14:24 when Doughty passed from the top of the right circle to his partner at the top of the left circle, and Muzzin scored on a hard slap shot for his third of the season.
The Wild quickly regained the lead at 2-1 when Ennis took the puck from behind the Wild net and slapped in his own rebound at 15:34.
NOTES: Wild G Devan Dubnyk came in 7-4-1 in his career against the Kings with a .931 save-percentage and 2.29 goals-against average, better than his .916 and 2.55 career marks. ... Minnesota C Charlie Coyle has a five-game point streak (one goal, four assists). ... Kings LW Marian Gaborik has eight points (five goals, three assists) in 12 career games against Minnesota. ... Los Angeles came in with the top penalty-kill unit in the NHL at 89.5 percent, and the Kings thwarted the Wild’s lone power play. ... Kings C Andy Andreoff, who has been sidelined since getting knocked down by a punch from Anaheim Ducks D Kevin Bieksa on Nov. 25, has been cleared to resume practicing. ... Kings C Torrey Mitchell went 6-0 on faceoffs.