Sunday, June 16, 2024

Anze Kopitar, Kings have celebration cut short by Bruins

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  • Alex Laferriere of the Los Angeles Kings scores his first...

    Alex Laferriere of the Los Angeles Kings scores his first career NHL goal in the second period against the Boston Bruins at Crypto.com Arena on October 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

  • Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings is recognized for...

    Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings is recognized for the most games played as a Los Angeles Kings with 1,297 during the first period against the Boston Bruins at Crypto.com Arena on October 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

  • Jordan Spence of the Los Angeles Kings skates the puck...

    Jordan Spence of the Los Angeles Kings skates the puck against Morgan Geekie of the Boston Bruins in the first period at Crypto.com Arena on October 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

  • Cam Talbot of the Los Angeles Kings makes a save...

    Cam Talbot of the Los Angeles Kings makes a save against the Boston Bruins in the first period at Crypto.com Arena on October 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

  • Cam Talbot of the Los Angeles Kings in goal against...

    Cam Talbot of the Los Angeles Kings in goal against the Boston Bruins in the first period at Crypto.com Arena on October 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

  • Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings skates the puck...

    Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings skates the puck against Johnny Beecher of the Boston Bruins in the first period at Crypto.com Arena on October 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

  • Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings skates the puck...

    Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings skates the puck against Johnny Beecher of the Boston Bruins in the first period at Crypto.com Arena on October 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

  • Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings is recognized for...

    Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings is recognized for the most games played as a Los Angeles Kings with 1,297 during the first period against the Boston Bruins at Crypto.com Arena on October 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

  • Alex Laferriere of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his first...

    Alex Laferriere of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates his first career NHL goal in the second period against the Boston Bruins at Crypto.com Arena on October 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

  • Alex Laferriere of the Los Angeles Kings scores his first...

    Alex Laferriere of the Los Angeles Kings scores his first career NHL goal in the second period against the Boston Bruins at Crypto.com Arena on October 21, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

LOS ANGELES –– Saturday night had been earmarked to celebrate Kings captain Anze Kopitar and his record-setting tenure with the organization, but the Boston Bruins crashed the party and walked out of Crypto.com Arena with a 4-2 victory.

On the same evening that Kopitar played in his franchise-record 1,297th game and Drew Doughty competed in match No. 1100, rookie Alex Laferriere scored his first NHL goal before 25-year-old Carl Grundstrom tacked on an academic power-play goal. That effort bridged generations but did not exactly illuminate the scoreboard despite the Kings out-shooting and out-chancing Boston. Cam Talbot stopped 21 shots in defeat.

It was Boston’s captain, Brad Marchand, stealing the show by producing two goals and an assist, matching the three-point outing of David Pastrnak (a goal and two assists). Morgan Geekie also tallied and former Kings defenseman Derek Forbort contributed two assists. Backup Jeremy Swayman was resplendent in goal with 32 saves.

The fanfare for Kopitar included a video montage from the man whose record he broke, his closest friend and former Kings captain Dustin Brown (who had surpassed Dave Taylor, who drafted both players as the Kings’ general manager). While the tribute, which concluded with Brown jabbing that his buddy Kopitar (three years his junior) was getting old, was special, it wasn’t the highlight of the night for “Kopi.”

“That was the second-best, the best part was that my little guy [Jakob] came in here and read the starting lineup. That was pretty cool; he nailed it,” said Kopitar, whose wife Ines also surprised him by flying his father Matjaž in from Slovenia for the occasion.

Boston was mostly content to clog up the neutral zone and slow the pace in the third period, when both teams barely cracked double digits in combined shots on goal, though one was a roof-bound snipe from Marchand that tolled the Kings’ bell with just over two minutes to play. Grundstrom tipped in Matt Roy’s shot to make the final result a bit more respectable with 72 seconds left.

Early gains gave way to lingering pains in the second period, as the Kings killed off a double-minor penalty and tied the game before surrendering a pair of goals that left them with an uphill climb at the second intermission.

Less than a minute into the frame, an adroit defensive play garnered Phillip Danault a shorthanded breakaway. Though his shot beat the theretofore impregnable Swayman, the post and crossbar conspired against Danault.

The Kings solved Swayman and found their equalizer 6:28 into the stanza when Laferriere hit the blue line with speed, received a pass from Pierre-Luc Dubois and zoomed ahead for a goal from a wrist shot as he fell to one knee.

“It was great. We actually drive to the game together and I noticed today he was wearing a tie to the game. He switched it up and I’m pretty sure the tie’s going to be the fashion feature,” Kopitar said. “He didn’t get onto the scoresheet until tonight but he’s been doing a lot of stuff right.”

Laferriere attended Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. His father Rob grew up in New Bedford, Mass. before playing most of his college career for Boston College. That tethered their fandom to the Boston sports franchises, including the Bruins, even though the younger Laferriere grew up in New Jersey.

“My dad was a Bruins fan growing up, so it was a pretty special moment,” said Laferriere of his goal.

The Laferrieres’ excitement quickly transferred to two current Boston residents as the Bruins struck twice in 48 seconds.

With 5:15 remaining, Geekie capped off a shift with heavy sustained pressure and multiple puck recoveries by popping a Forbort-generated rebound past Talbot. The Kings then gave up their second goal Saturday following a defensive-zone faceoff loss when Marchand engaged in a bit of captain-on-captain crime: his shot hit Kopitar and trickled through Talbot’s legs.

“I saw some individual mistakes. Faceoff coverage. It’s as simple as that. We went through that before the game and we knew exactly what was going on, and we didn’t get it done,” Coach Todd McLellan said.

The Kings turned in a high-event first period that pushed Swayman to the brink intermittently. They hit the net three times in as many seconds at one point and Swayman also denied Dubois and top goal-scorer Adrian Kempe in instantaneous succession not once but twice.

Additionally, the Kings enjoyed nearly a minute of ultimately futile five-on-three time in the opening 20, whereas Boston needed just 13 seconds of man-advantage action to take the lead.

After Mikey Anderson was whistled for interference, the Bruins won the draw and Pastrnak opened the scoring. Marchand’s pass across the tops of the faceoff circles found Pastrnak, who changed his angle and flung a shot that was deflected by Vladislav Gavrikov before knuckling past Talbot.

In all, the Kings out-shot Boston and emphatically checked all the fancy-stat boxes as well: Corsi, Fenwick, high-danger chances and expected goals. Yet Boston came away with two points, and the Kings are still in search of their first victory at home this season.

“You’re going to play 82 games. There’s some games that we’re going to win that we’re going to come back in here and laugh and think that we shouldn’t have won,” Dubois said. “Then there’s some games like tonight, where it could have gone either way.”

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