Quick, Kopitar hit 300th milestones, Kings rout Oilers 4-0
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Jonathan Quick and Anze Kopitar have been teammates since they were drafted together 13½ years ago by the Los Angeles Kings, so the synchronicity of their milestone achievements Saturday night just felt right.
And though 300 is a nice, round number, they were even more excited about a sharp win that propelled the Kings out of the NHL cellar.
Quick earned his 300th victory and Kopitar scored his 300th goal while Los Angeles escaped last place in the overall league standings with a 4-0 win over the Edmonton Oilers.
The Kings’ captain and their longtime starting goalie were the foundation of two Stanley Cup championship teams in Los Angeles, where they’ve been on the NHL roster together since late 2008.
A few minutes after Kopitar got his milestone goal in the third period, Quick finished up his own landmark win along with his 51st career shutout.
“Feels pretty good,” said Kopitar, the fifth player to score 300 goals for the Kings. “I was hoping it was going to come a little bit earlier than that, but it’s here, and I’m proud of that. ... It’s great for Quickie. He’s, in my mind, the best goalie in the world. It’s very comforting to have him back there, and a privilege to play in front of him.”
Quick made 16 saves and combined with his defense to end the five-game scoring streaks of Edmonton stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
“As far as 300 wins, it’s just a group of guys that I’ve been lucky enough to play with,” Quick said. “Hopefully we keep going. We want to win some more games. For Kopi, that’s awesome. He’s more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer, so 300 goals, that’s a lot.”
Kyle Clifford, Tyler Toffoli and Jeff Carter scored during a dominant first period in the Kings’ sixth win in nine games since mid-December.
Mikko Koskinen yielded three goals on eight Kings shots before Cam Talbot replaced him in the first period for the Oilers.
Edmonton coach Ken Hitchcock castigated his team after its seventh loss in eight games.
“We had one player show up and play,” Hitchcock said. “Darnell Nurse was our best player by a mile ... and that’s all we had. We didn’t compete. Their best players were their best players. We didn’t compete. This is on everybody. When you have one player that competes at a high level in a game like this, it can’t be acceptable. There’s been too much of this go on in the first 41 games. We win one, and then we take our foot off the gas, and that’s exactly what we did.”
The poor first period was a rerun for the Oilers, who also struggled early against Arizona on Wednesday before rallying to win.
“What has to change for us (is) we’re a situation-motivated team,” Hitchcock said. “I’ve only been here 20 games, and I see the situation motivates them. We lose, we get embarrassed, we get motivated, and that isn’t a playoff team. That isn’t a playoff attitude, and we have to change. But this can’t be acceptable. ... I don’t know what it is, but we’ll figure it out.”
All-Star Drew Doughty had two early assists for the Kings, who are on their first sustained stretch of strong play after languishing at the bottom of the league for much of the season.
With these two points, Los Angeles moved above Ottawa, Philadelphia and St. Louis while pulling even at the bottom of the Pacific Division with Arizona, albeit with more games played. They’re small but vital movements for the Kings after a dismal first half of the season that included the firing of coach John Stevens.
The Kings ranked 30th in the 31-team NHL with only 22 first-period goals before they got three more past the Oilers.
Clifford put the Kings up just 3:15 in when he took a pass at mid-ice, skated around Caleb Jones and flipped in his sixth goal. Toffoli scored after Doughty kept an Oilers turnover in the zone and set up the forward for only his second goal in 25 games.
Carter then chased Koskinen with his eighth goal of the season.
NOTES: Kings F Carl Hagelin returned from a 20-game absence with a knee injury. The Swede played in only five games after Los Angeles acquired him from Pittsburgh in a trade for Tanner Pearson before getting hurt. ... Edmonton RW Alex Chiasson returned from a three-game absence with a sore knee. ... Oilers D Matt Benning was scratched for only the second time since Oct. 25. He left the road trip to attend his grandfather’s funeral in Edmonton on Friday. Former Kings D Kevin Gravel took his spot in the Oilers’ lineup.
Oilers: At Ducks on Sunday.
Kings: At Sharks on Monday.