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Kings get 4-3 overtime win against Blackhawks

Jack Harris, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Hockey

LOS ANGELES -- Todd McLellan listed plaudits of Los Angeles Kings center and captain Anze Kopitar in rapid-fire fashion.

"Two-hundred foot player," McLellan said. "Both ends. Pretty good in the (faceoff) circle. Leadership skills. Plays all situations."

Then, the first-year Kings coach paused and reflected, able to cherish a player he's spent most of his career game-planning against.

"Sounds like a former Hart Trophy nominee, Selke (Trophy)-type player," said McLellan, who coached against the Kings 53 times before being hired by the club this offseason.

Because of his rising age (32) and robust contact (his runs through the 2023-24 season at $10 million in annual average value), Kopitar is clumped in with the rest of the Kings' aging core, considered by some to be a leftover relic of a past generation.

But even in the midst of the franchise's rebuild this season, his career seems nowhere near its expiration date. Like a fine wine, he continues to uncork stirring performances in his 14th NHL season.

 

Entering a 4-3 overtime win Saturday against the Chicago Blackhawks at Staples Center, Kopitar topped the team in points (13), and led all forwards in average ice time (19:43). He had the second-best faceoff percentage (54%, among players with at least 10 draws), the third-most shots (34), and fourth-best plus-minus rating (zero).

"His presence out there, it's unbelievable," said Alex Iafallo, a Kopitar linemate for most of the past two seasons. "He's buzzing around, making plays. It's fun to play with him."

On Wednesday, Kopitar recorded his 900th point with a first-period assist on a Jeff Carter goal.

"It will probably take a little while for that to sink in," Kopitar said after becoming the fifth player in franchise history to eclipse the milestone. "I knew it was coming up. The last couple games, I didn't get any points. I figured it was a good time to do it."

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