Kopitar scores 4, Kempe nets SO winner as Kings top Jets 6-5
WINNIPEG, Manitoba (AP) — Anze Kopitar scored four goals in regulation and Adrian Kempe had the only score in the shootout as the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Winnipeg Jets 6-5 on Tuesday night.
“We’d like to be on the other side of things and play with the lead, but sometimes you’ve got to come from behind. It feels good,” Kopitar said.
Kopitar, the Kings’ captain, had a natural hat trick in the second period. It was the 35-year-old’s sixth career hat trick and second time he has scored four times in an NHL game.
“He had the hot hand. Anything he shot had a chance,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said of the 17-year veteran forward. “Not only did he get the four, but he probably could have had six, so we’re really happy for him.
“Great leadership, stepping up and pulling us through at the back end of a trip when it doesn’t look real good. A lot of other guys followed him.”
Gabriel Vilardi also scored and Drew Doughty had a pair of assists for the Kings. Pheonix Copley made 26 saves as Los Angeles (34-20-8) ended a five-game trip with a 2-2-1 mark.
Josh Morrissey had his first four-point game, finishing with two goals and two assists for Winnipeg, which is mired in its first four-game skid of the season. Winnipeg is 1-5-1 in its last seven games.
Morrissey praised the play of Kopitar.
“He looks the same as I remember watching him when I was a kid,” Morrissey said. “It’s pretty impressive that he’s able to play at that level. Unfortunately for us, he brought his A-game today.”
Kevin Stenlund had a pair of goals and Kyle Connor also scored for the Jets. Mark Scheifele and Dylan DeMelo each contributed two assists. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 32 shots as the Jets closed out a three-game homestand.
Jets head coach Rick Bowness liked his team’s effort.
“A couple blown assignments, a couple fluky breaks, it goes right to the hottest player in the game,” Bowness said. “We competed hard tonight, we did.”
Vilardi tied the game 5-all with 4:06 remaining in the third period when he grabbed a loose puck and fired it past Hellebuyck.
The Jets led 2-0 after the first period and 5-3 following the second.
A minute after Winnipeg came up empty on its first power play, Morrissey registered his 12th goal of the season on a heads-up play. Scheifele was at the side of the Los Angeles net, trying to jam the puck past Copley. As the puck slid into the crease, Morrissey raced in and banged it into the net at 15:52.
Blake Wheeler assisted on the goal, recording the 600th assist of his NHL career. He’s the 97th player in league history to reach the milestone.
Morrissey made it 2-0 just over a minute-and-a-half later with a high shot beat Copley at 17:35.
Los Angeles got on the board 26 seconds into the second period.
Six seconds after Jets defenseman Neal Pionk was called for holding, Kevin Fiala sent a pass to Kopitar and he fired the puck by Hellebuyck for his 21st of the season.
Winnipeg responded with Connor’s 27th goal to make it 3-1, but Kopitar tied it by tipping in two goals.
First Kopitar tipped in an Alexander Edler point shot at 9:14, and did the same with a Doughty shot at 10:43.
Stenlund gave the Jets the 5-3 lead at 12:00, then scored short-handed six minutes later.
The Kings had four power plays in the middle frame, including one that rolled over for nine seconds into the third.
Kopitar notched his fourth goal of the game with a slap shot that beat Hellebuyck 1:26 of the third to squeeze Winnipeg’s lead to 5-4.
CHEERS FOR THE NEW GUY
New Jets forward Nino Niederreiter, acquired in a trade Saturday with the Nashville Predators, played his first game with Winnipeg and made a big impression with his fists.
With 1:51 left in the second period, Niederreiter checked Kings defenseman Sean Kurzi hard into the boards. Los Angeles forward Adrian Kempe came to his defense and they started fighting to cheers from the crowd.
Kings: Host Montreal Canadiens on Thursday.
Jets: At Edmonton Oilers on Friday.
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