Los Angeles Kings stitch together a shootout win over Vancouver Canucks

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Thumbnail image for whysokopi_.jpegLos Angeles Kings 2, Vancouver Canucks 1 (SO)

You could say that the Canucks “left a mark” on the Kings last summer when they knocked them out of the playoffs, but that was in a figurative sense. As you can see from Anze Kopitar’s gnarled mouth (image via my buddy from The Royal Half, in case you couldn’t tell), the Canucks left a more literal mark in this one.

This time around, though, the Kings won … even if it happened via a glorified skills competition. Considering the likely dental injury Kopitar dealt with in this game, I don’t know if I’d say that he had the “last laugh” but he did help his team win with a gorgeous shorthanded goal. The Associated Press write-up captured the scene quite well.

Kopitar’s opening night appeared to be spoiled when he ran into the end of Manny Malhotra’s stick while trying to throw a check midway through the second period. He stayed down as blood pooled beneath him, and had to be helped off the ice and to the locker room. Kopitar returned to start the third period and beat Roberto Luongo with a backhand deke to open the shootout.

jackjohnsoninpurple.jpgJack Johnson sealed the shootout win with a simple-yet-effective wrist shot goal and the Kings received a tiny morsel of revenge against their rivals.

Jonathan Quick was solid in this game (23 for 24), but Roberto Luongo earned those obnoxious “Lou” chants by stopping 31 out of 32 shots. Both teams were unable to score in 5-on-5 situations, as each tally came via a power play or shootout.

Christian Ehrhoff scored the Canucks power-play goal with assists from the Sedin twins while Justin Williams provided the Kings’ goal, with Michal Handzus and Dustin Brown earned assists.

Ultimately, Kopitar’s face was a microcosm of an ugly, tough game between two probable contenders in the Western Conference. It might not have been pretty, but if both teams can play like this, they might see each other in the playoffs once again.

Kings place Ehrhoff on waivers

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05:  Nick Bonino #13 of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Christian Ehrhoff #10 of the Los Angeles Kings head for the piuck during the first period at Staples Center on December 5, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Los Angeles Kings have placed defenseman Christian Ehrhoff on waivers, according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

A veteran of almost 800 NHL games, Ehrhoff has not fit well with Los Angeles after signing a one-year, $1.5 million deal in August. The 33-year-old has just 11 points in 40 games and is a team-worst minus-10. Though he had two assists in last night’s 9-2 win over the Bruins, he also took a careless tripping penalty in the first period that led to a Boston goal.

In a related story, the Kings are rumored to be looking for help on the back end. In fact, they were reportedly quite interested in Dustin Byfuglien, before he re-signed with the Jets.

According to Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider, 23-year-old defenseman Kevin Gravel is “on the verge of a recall” from AHL Ontario.

The Kings play Thursday in Brooklyn.

Report: Kadri’s throat-slashing gesture being reviewed by NHL

Nazem Kadri
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Nazem Kadri‘s throat-slashing gesture is under review by the NHL, according to TSN.ca.

The Maple Leafs forward made the gesture while sitting on Toronto’s bench last night in Calgary, moments after he was laid out by Flames captain Mark Giordano.

The NHL first started cracking down on the throat-slashing gesture in 2000. Former NHLer Nick Boyton was suspended twice for making the gesture, first in 2006 then again in 2010. He was banned one game for each incident.

Fix coming? Blues activate Schwartz after 49-game absence

Jaden Schwartz
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After Tuesday’s loss to the Jets — the Blues’ fourth in their last six games — head coach Ken Hitchcock said his club has “got to play harder than this” and “got to compete at a lot higher level than this.”

He then added “it’s up to us to fix it.”

Well, help is on the way.

On Wednesday, the Blues activated forward Jaden Schwartz off injured reserve, after he missed the last 49 contests with a fractured left ankle. Schwartz is expected to be in the lineup on Friday when the Blues take on the Panthers in Florida.

The 23-year-old should provide an immediate boost to the lineup. Schwartz had four points in seven games before getting hurt, and that came on the heels of a successful ’14-15 campaign in which he posted career highs in goals (28) and points (63).

The Blues’ first-round pick in 2010 (14th overall), Schwartz is a 17-18 TOI per night guy, so he’ll be a big presence almost immediately. His return also inches the team back to full health, though there’s still a ways to go — Alex Pietrangelo and Jake Allen are still week-to-week with knee and lower-body injuries, while Steve Ott is out until late February following hamstrings surgery.

Related: Armstrong wants Blues to get healthy before any trades are made

‘Very upset’ Jokinen blasts NHL’s handling of Abdelkader-Barkov hit

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You can add Jussi Jokinen to the list of Florida Panthers livid with Justin Abdelkader‘s hit on Aleksander Barkov.

“I’m very upset,” Jokinen said, per the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “I don’t know if I’m too emotional because that’s my best friend on the team. It looked really dangerous.”

Barkov was knocked woozy by a big Abdelkader check during Detroit’s 3-0 win over the Panthers on Monday. The hit forced the young Finn from the game, and also forced him to miss yesterday’s contest in Buffalo.

Abdelkader wasn’t fined or suspended for the hit and, according to the Sun-Sentinel, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety didn’t contact him at all.

It’s also worth pointing out that Abdelkader wasn’t penalized at the time of the incident.

But that didn’t stop Nick Bjugstad and head coach Gerard Gallant from calling the hit “cheap,” with Gallant suggesting Abdelkader left his feet to make the hit, and caught Barkov in the jaw.

Jokinen put the onus on the league to wipe out checks of this nature.

“There are too many hits like that an no suspensions,” he explained. “Fans want to watch Barkov, not those guys. The league has to do a better job of taking those hits out of the game.”

Florida and Detroit next play on Mar. 19, in case you’re wondering.