Sports Kopitar reaches 999 career points, Kings beat Coyotes 3-2
Kopitar hits 1,000 points, Kings knock off Coyotes 4-2
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Anze Kopitar had an assist to reach 1,000 career points, Gabriel Vilardi scored twice and the Los Angeles Kings eliminated the Arizona Coyotes from playoff contention with a 4-2 win Wednesday night. “It's definitely exciting/nerve-wracking,” Kopitar said. “I caught myself thinking about it a little too much and told myself to relax a little bit, play and just let it happen.” The Coyotes got some good news in their longshot bid to make the playoffs when St. Louis lost to Anaheim. The Kings ended Arizona's hopes and bolstered their own longshot chances in the Coyotes' home season finale.
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist to reach 999 career points and the Los Angeles Kings put a big dent in the Arizona Coyotes’ playoff hopes with a 3-2 win Monday night.
Kopitar scored in the second period and had an assist on Alex Iafallo's goal, putting him within one point of becoming the fourth Kings player to reach 1,000 for his career.
“It's incredible,” Iafallo said. “To be one point away from 1,000 is an amazing accomplishment. It's just an honour to be able to play with him.”
Trevor Moore also scored and Jonathan Quick had 17 saves before leaving after the second period with an upper-body injury. Cal Petersen stopped 15 shots and helped the Kings withstand a late flurry by the Coyotes in relief.
Kaprizov, Wild stay hot with 4-2 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES — Minnesota Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov showed how good he could on opening night against the Los Angeles Kings and hasn’t slowed down. Three months later, with the Kings battling to keep their playoff hopes alive, the electric Russian forward still got the best of them. Kaprizov had two goals and the Wild beat the Kings 4-2 Friday night for their sixth straight win. “I know I’m biased, but he’s putting together a Calder season,” Wild forward Nick Bonino said. “I think he’s got the most goals and points, and he’s obviously a threat every time he’s on the ice. His goals are pretty amazing. That first goal, pretty fun to watch.
Jakob Chychrun scored his 17th goal, which leads all NHL defencemen, and Christian Dvorak scored for the Coyotes. Darcy Kuemper had 22 saves.
Arizona is five points behind St. Louis for the West Division’s final playoff spot with three games left after the Blues beat Anaheim earlier Monday. The Coyotes have lost 11 of 14.
“It hurts,” said Coyotes forward Conor Garland, who returned after missing six games with a lower-body injury. “We had some good looks there. We just need to find a way to get one in.”
The Coyotes got off to a slow in a 3-2 loss to Vegas on Saturday and did it again in another must-win game.
Arizona had one shot on goal in the first 15 minutes — the Kings had nine — and Kuemper had to make some difficult saves, including a diving stop on Sean Walker in the early going.
Sabres' Rasmus Ristolainen open to trade
Ristolainen has now been in Buffalo for eight seasons but has yet to step foot on the ice of an NHL playoff game. He has seen six different coaches behind the bench since his debut in 2013, but none of them were able to get the team to even a .500 record. The 26-year-old defenseman has been a big part of those losses, averaging nearly 24 minutes a night throughout his Buffalo career, only to post an eye-popping -163 rating in 542 games. While +/- has its obvious flaws, Ristolainen has also posted poor possession numbers throughout his career and is likely playing a bigger role than he is truly capable of.
The Coyotes finally generated some offensive pressure late and Dvorak scored, gathering a pass from Lawson Crouse and knocking it past Quick with a backhander.
The lead didn't last long.
Moore scored 35 seconds later, beating Kuemper to the short after an Arizona faceoff win to the goalie's right.
“That's as good a period as we've played in a long time,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said.
The Coyotes closed the period on the power play after the Kings' Tobias Bjornfot ran Clayton Keller into Quick. Chychrun capitalized 53 seconds into the second, beating Quick from the left circle on a shot off the post.
Kopitar tied it midway through the period, one-timing a pass from Adrian Kempe past Kuemper's stick side on a 2-on-1. Iafallo put the Kings up on a late power play, jamming in a rebound after Kuemper stopped Drew Doughty's initial shot.
Petersen made several difficult saves in the final two minutes after Arizona pulled Kuemper for an extra attacker. The Coyotes also had a couple of good in-close chances just miss due to bouncing pucks.
Kings beat Ducks 4-1 as fans return to Staples Center
LOS ANGELES — Andreas Athanasiou and Blake Lizotte each had a goal and two assists and the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Anaheim Ducks 4-1 on Tuesday night. Anze Kopitar and Carl Grundstrom also scored for the Kings, who had gone 14 games since their last win by at least three goals, against St. Louis on March 17. Cal Petersen made 24 saves. “Had a bit of a rough stretch a little bit ago and we’re still within reach of a playoff spot we feel,” Lizotte said. “We believe that we can get there, so it’s playoff hockey this time of year and the intensity (will) just continue to ramp up. I think we just need to focus on our details of our game.
“It's frustrating,” Coyotes left wing Lawson Crouse said. “We're trying to win that hockey game, trying to do everything right and it just didn't happen.”
McLellan shook up his lines, moving centre Adrian Kempe to play with Kopitar and Dustin Brown.
It turned out to be a great move.
Kempe had an assist on Kopitar's goal, nearly score on a shot hit the post in the third period and played a strong defensive game.
“It was one of his better games of the season,” McLellan said. “He was aggressive, he was all over the ice, set the tone on the forecheck, meshed well with those two. He's as good defensively as he was offensively, so we're really happy for him tonight.”
Coyotes C Nick Schmaltz was a late scratch after being injured during warm-ups.
He was hit in the head with a puck that hit the crossbar, went down to the ice and doubled over in pain before being helped to the locker room by Arizona’s trainer.
Schmaltz is one of the Coyotes’ top playmakers with 10 goals and 22 assists this season.
“I don't know how he is. I didn't see him after the game so I don't know if he'll be able to go tomorrow,” Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet said. “We have a tough time scoring as it is and Nick drives a lot of offence for us.”
Kopitar is one point shy of joining Marcel Dionne (1,307), Luc Robitaille (1,154) and Dave Taylor (1,069) in the Kings’ 1,000-point club. … Chychrun became the first player in Coyotes history tonight to score a goal, record nine shots and skate in over 28 minutes in one game. … Coyotes G Antti Raanta skated with the team Monday morning, but missed his ninth straight game with an upper-body injury.
The Kings lead the Coyotes 4-3 heading into the season series finale on Wednesday.
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John Marshall, The Associated Press
Suns top Clippers, clinch 1st playoff berth since 2010 .
PHOENIX — Chris Paul scored 28 points, Devin Booker added 21 and the Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Clippers 109-101 on Wednesday night to clinch a spot in the playoffs for the first time in 11 years. The Suns finally figured out a way to beat the Clippers, who won the first two games of the season series. Phoenix didn’t trail the entire game but needed a fourth-quarter push to turn back a Los Angeles rally. The Suns took an 86-80 lead into the final quarter. The Clippers pulled within 93-92 midway though the fourth but Paul scored three consecutive tough baskets to give Phoenix some space. The 35-year-old Paul shot 10 of 15 from the field and dished 10 assists.