Anze Kopitar

NHL on NBCSN: Sharks, Kings renew hostilities


NBCSN will kick off its post-holiday schedule with back-to-back rivalry games tonight. The second will feature the Kings and Sharks in Los Angeles and start at 10:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game online.

When the Sharks faced the Kings in their season opener, they had something to prove after San Jose was embarrassed by Los Angeles in the first round “reverse sweep.”. The fact that the Sharks went on to earn a 4-0 victory in that contest was a step in the right direction, but it doesn’t make up for the playoff collapse. Nothing they do in the regular season can.

Even still, the situation is far different for Game 2 of the season series between San Jose and Los Angeles. The Sharks entered the holiday break on a 9-1-1 run to improve to 19-11-5 this season. Even their 3-2 overtime loss against Anaheim to close their pre-Christmas schedule seemed to do little to dampen their enthusiasm.

“If we play that way, we’ll win more than we lose,” said Joe Pavelski, per CSN Bay Area.

“It answered some questions that I had going in,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said of the loss. “Are we going to be prepared and focused and could we compete in this type of game right before Christmas? We did that. We had some good leadership in the locker room and everybody found a way to scramble to get a point on the road.”

Los Angeles hasn’t been nearly as effective lately, winning just three of its last nine games. That 70s line of Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, and Tanner Pearson, which dazzled audiences earlier this season, has fizzled out and been broken up. Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik are finally clicking, but lately it often hasn’t been enough.

These last few years Los Angeles has been a team that’s at its best during the playoffs, but the Kings need to make it to the postseason for that to matter. Coming out of the holiday break last season, the Kings had a nine-point cushion in the battle for a playoffs spot, but going into this game, Los Angeles only has a two-point edge in the Wild Card race.

With that in mind this isn’t just a rivalry game for the Kings. It’s also a key opportunity to put some distance on their pre-holiday slump and start providing themselves with some breathing room.

Kopitar, Voracek, Fleury named NHL’s three stars of the week


Los Angeles’ Anze Kopitar, Philly’s Jakub Voracek and Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury have been named the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 21, the league announced on Monday.

The highlights:

Kopitar led the NHL with nine points and eight assists in three games, helping the Kings (17-11-6, 40 points) win two of three starts to maintain a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

Voracek tied for second among all players with seven points (3-4—7) in four games to power the Flyers (13-14-6, 32 points) to five out of a possible eight standings points and vault into the top spot in NHL scoring.

Fleury went 3-0-0 with a 0.99 goals-against average, .971 save percentage and one shutout to help the Penguins (22-6-4, 48 points) record a trio of victories and maintain the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

For Kopitar, last week was huge as it snapped him out of a terrible scoring slump. The 27-year-old had just 13 points through his first 28 games and a 10-game goalless drought from Nov. 18 to Dec. 11.

Finally clicking Gaborik, Kopitar add to Coyotes’ woes


Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik played a key role in the Los Angeles Kings’ 2014 Stanley Cup championship, but between Gaborik’s health problems and Kopitar’s on-ice struggles, they weren’t major contributors early this season. That’s changed though as the duo led Los Angeles to a 4-2 victory over Arizona this afternoon.

The Coyotes had a 2-1 lead late in the second period when Marian Gaborik netted the game-tying marker to extend his goal-scoring streak to four games. He added an assist in the third frame to give him eight points in his last four contests.

Kopitar had three assists against the Coyotes, including the primary one on Gaborik’s power-play goal. He also led the Kings to victory over St. Louis on Thursday with a goal and four assists.

Meanwhile, the Coyotes have lost nine of their last 11 games. Over that span, the only team they’ve managed to beat are the lowly Edmonton Oilers. At 11-17-1, Arizona is 12 points behind the Vancouver Canucks, who hold the second Wild Card spot. The Coyotes’ situation might be even worse by the end of the night as the Canucks still have to play against the Calgary Flames.

Video: Dreger talks Vegas, 2015-16 salary cap, MacLean

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There have been a lot of major events in the NHL that have captured headlines in recent days from the prospect of the league expanding to Las Vegas, to speculation on the 2015-16 salary cap, and finally the firing of Ottawa Senators bench boss Paul MacLean.

Before the start of tonight’s NBCSN game between the Buffalo Sabres and Los Angeles Kings, Darren Dreger went on the air to provide the latest on each of those stories and put them into context. You can watch that below:

Tonight’s preview show also featured a segment on Anze Kopitar’s struggles this season and how Marian Gaborik’s return might help him:

Slumping Kopitar might get Gaborik back soon


The Los Angeles Kings have left something to be desired with their mediocre 14-8-5 record and part of their shortcomings can be tied to Anze Kopitar.

He’s one of their biggest offensive weapons, but he has just five goals and 12 points in 24 games this season. He’s also been limited to two assists over his last eight contests.

Kopitar might get a boost on Tuesday though if Marian Gaborik (upper body) returns after a four-game absence. The two skated together on the top line Sunday and Gaborik was able to fully participate in the practice, per LA Kings Insider.

The duo had chemistry during the Kings’ 2014 Stanley Cup-winning playoff run, but they weren’t able to carry that forward early this season because Gaborik was sidelined for most of October. He got off to a slow start when he returned, but Gaborik had four goals and seven points in his last nine games before he was injured again.

Justin Williams rounded out the Kings’ first line during Sunday’s practice. Kings coach Darryl Sutter also reunited That 70s Line, which consists of Tyler Toffoli, Jeff Carter, and Tanner Pearson.

Sutter talked about the possibility of calling up 23-year-old forward Andy Andreoff as a fallback option if Gaborik isn’t ready.