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Blue Jackets @ Kings Recap: LA Finishes Perfect Homestand, Loses Kopitar

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Pearson, Carter, and Toffoli rack up four more goals to lead the Kings to a 5-2 win, but Kopitar leaves the game with an upper-body injury.

Harry How

This afternoon, the Los Angeles Kings beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-2. It's hard to write a recap when you can't figure out what the biggest storyline is, so I'll just write about everything and let you vote on it below. Good? Good.

[Box Score]

Early on, it wasn't a particularly exciting game, though there was quite a bit going on. The Blue Jackets were the only team to get on the board in the first period, after a Drew Doughty interference call gave Columbus a power play. It was a well-worked goal, too; Ryan Johansen slapped a shot-pass toward Scott Hartnell in front, who tipped it sideways for a hard-charging Tim Erixson. Jake Muzzin had two opportunities to stretch out and knock the puck away, but his first try missed, and his second only moved about six inches before Erixson's stick came in and knocked it past Jonathan Quick.

Before that? Just a bunch of shenanigans. Corey Tropp went about 50 feet to lay a big hit on Justin Williams, and Matt Greene took exception and earned the ol' 2-5-10 for his trouble. Not to be outdone, Scott Hartnell decided to punch Martin Jones on the Kings' bench, and after Jordan Nolan poked Hartnell in the back with his stiick. Hartnell got angry and took a roughing penalty. That all happened in the first two minutes, and considering the injuries which would come later, it was a wonder no one got hurt early on. Overall, it was a good period for LA, but the Kings' even strength domination didn't pay off. (First period visual recap: here.)

LA wasted no time working their way back into the game in the second period. Columbus took consecutive penalties to set up a 5-on-3, and LA put their absolutely terrifying new-look power play on the ice: Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty, Jeff Carter, Tanner Pearson, and Tyler Toffoli. The result was predictable once Tyler Toffoli smartly drove to the net, drawing two defenders and the goalie his way. Toffoli flipped it back across, and both Kopitar and Carter had a chance to knock it in; Carter did the deed to tie the score. Ten minutes later, Kopitar was injured on this play, leaving the rest of the team to find some scoring.

You already know who ended up handling most of THAT. Tyler Toffoli gave the Kings their first lead, as Jeff Carter got the rebound of a Robyn Regehr shot and decided to pass (perfectly) instead of shoot. The eventual game-winner, though, was the only one that did not come from the second (first?) line. Dwight King didn't find the net with Kopitar at center despite some great possession numbers over the last couple games, so naturally, he scored on his second shift without Kopitar. Justin Williams made a controlled entry into the zone and his shot was deflected high into the air by Sergei Bobrovsky's blocker. King was the most aware player on the ice, and though his baseball swing at the puck missed, he immediately wristed it past Bobrovsky once it landed. (Second period visual recap: here.)

Mark Letestu's last-minute goal in the second meant that LA couldn't simply sit on their lead in the third. But without Kopitar in the third period, the Kings once again got the necessary offense from the NHL's most prolific line. Tanner Pearson's two goals in the third meant that, for the third time in eight games, all three members had found the net in the same game. The first goal came out of almost nothing, as Toffoli lobbed a puck down the ice and Pearson got to it first. Pearson had no space to drive in towards the net, so he simply rang a perfect wrister off the post and in. By the time Pearson scored on a rebound with five minutes to go (assists by Carter and Toffoli), the Kings were able to relax. Quick, of course, was part of that once again, with an absurd pad save on Letestu providing a good ending. (Third period visual recap: here.) Final: 5-2. Final homestand record: 6-0-0.

(One more note: Nick Foligno was taken off the ice on a stretcher after a scary third-period collision with a linesman along the boards. He was conscious and moving immediately after the hit and was able to lift his to the crowd as he left the ice. He stayed at Staples for further evaluation, but the early word from the Blue Jackets and media is that he will be all right. That's great news.)