EL SEGUNDO — Kings center Anze Kopitar didn’t have to ponder the question very long. In his mind, yes, his team’s 2-1 shootout victory over the rival Ducks on Nov. 25 at Staples Center did have something to do with shaking the Kings from their doldrums.
The Kings had lost seven of eight before that game. That the victory over the Ducks included plenty of extracurricular activity perhaps added fuel to a fire that has the Kings on a five-game winning streak.
“Absolutely,” Kopitar said Monday, a day after the Kings defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1 to complete a 4-0 trip; it’s only the third time in franchise history the team has done that. “We actually played a pretty good game the game before in Phoenix (a 3-2 overtime loss Nov. 24). Obviously, we didn’t get the result that we wanted, but that point was pretty big.
“And then coming home, and the start of the game (against the Ducks) that it was, with three fights and a lot of scraps early and then getting down and needing the full 60 minutes to tie it up. And a shootout is obviously a lottery and we managed to win and, for sure, that was a kick-start to this team.”
There is more to this surge that has the Kings (17-8-3) atop the Pacific Division with 37 points, just a point behind Winnipeg for the best record in the Western Conference. Kopitar explained.
“I think the biggest difference is we’re just finding a way to win and not really crumble,” said Kopitar, who leads the Kings in points with 31. “And I’m not saying that we crumbled before, but it was just … I don’t know how many of those seven losses were one-goal games, where we just couldn’t get it done.”
Five of those losses were by one goal.
“Obviously, we’re scoring more goals, that certainly helps,” said Kopitar, whose team hosts Minnesota (13-10-3) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Staples Center. “You know, give Quickie (Jonathan Quick) a lot more support, obviously. But even last night, it’s 0-0 going into the third and somehow find a way to win.”
Right wing Dustin Brown believes more balanced scoring is helping.
“I think part of it is we’re getting scoring from up and down our lineup, which is, I think, key to win in this league,” he said. “We’re getting big goals – especially on the road trip – we’re getting big goals from so-called third and fourth liners. That helps.
“The one goal that comes to mind is (Adrian) Kempe’s goal in St. Louis. It was late in the period and it restores…