first_imgNHL: Kopitar’s flashy goal in the shootout clinches the victory. By Matthew Kredell STAFF WRITER Kings general manager Dean Lombardi said in a conference call Monday that he didn’t think a lack of heart was the problem with his struggling team. The fans certainly thought so, with a season-low announced crowd of 14,239 at the game. But the Kings came out with the fire the team has lacked all season, improving to 2-5 while dropping the Wild to 5-1. Coach Marc Crawford sent a message before the game by scratching forward Ladislav Nagy, who was scoreless in the first six games playing on the top two lines. “We just didn’t feel he’s played at the level he needs to play at and we wanted to give him a real strong message that you’ve got to be a lot better,” Crawford said. “He’ll get an opportunity again and we expect more from him. He’s paid to be a top scorer in this league and he needs to perform like that.” With Nagy out, Cammalleri moved back to the top line alongside Kopitar and Brown. Patrick O’Sullivan, who had filled a defensive role on the season, moved up to the second scoring line with Derek Armstrong and Alexander Frolov. Kopitar said he planned his unorthodox shootout goal. The left-hander went to his left and had Backstrom on the ice before reaching over and pushing the puck in ever so gently with his off hand. “I knew I had to score and I felt comfortable with that move,” Kopitar said. “I actually tried it in the morning skate and it worked, so I was confident it was going in.” Aubin, who came off the injured reserve list Monday to replace 19-year-old Jonathan Bernier after he was sent back to juniors, stopped 28 of 31 shots in his Kings debut. On the second goal, he left the puck behind the net for Tom Preissing, but Minnesota’s Branko Radivojevic swooped in and stole the puck against the boards. He found Mikko Koivu coming up for an easy goal before Aubin could really get set. With the Kings up, 3-2, in the third period after a Kopitar goal, Aubin was beaten by a slap shot from Brian Rolston to tie the game and force overtime. The Kings protected Aubin well by only committing three penalties and limiting mistakes. “I thought our team made sure he didn’t have the type of night we’ve been exposing our other goaltenders to so far this year,” Crawford said. “It was a good team win and J-S was adequate in the net, and hopefully he can build on that.” [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The Kings went out and proved him right Tuesday, upending the only undefeated team left in the NHL with a 4-3 victory over Minnesota in a shootout at Staples Center. Anze Kopitar scored the game-winner, reaching out with one hand to slip the puck past a diving Niklas Backstrom. “It feels really good to come into the locker room with the win,” Kopitar said. “We played like a really desperate team on the ice.” Dustin Brown and Michael Cammalleri also scored in the shootout, and Jean-Sebastien Aubin stopped the Wild’s second attempt with his pads. An undefeated opponent has to be the last thing a struggling team wants to see come into its building. last_img

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