COLUMBUS (AP) – Anze Kopitar and the Los Angeles Kings have put those slow starts behind them.
Kopitar broke a tie with 2:14 left with his second goal of the game and Kings beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-4 on Saturday night to remain the only NHL team unbeaten in regulation.
Kopitar also had an assist, Dustin Brown added a goal and three assists, and Jake Muzzin had a goal and two assists. Trevor Lewis, Drew Doughty also scored for the Kings, and Jonathan Quick stopped 32 shots.
At 6-0-1, Los Angeles is off to the best start in franchise history.
“The last three years we started 0-3 as a team,” Brown said. “We talked about having a good start. These are the types of games that add up and make a big difference toward the end of the year.”
Nick Foligno, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Matt Calvert and Sonny Milano scored for Columbus, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves.
“You knew it was going to be one of those games where the next goal was going to win it,” Foligno said. “They got one late. It’s just unfortunate. We have to find a way to win – especially at home.”
Columbus got the scoring started after Adrian Kempe’s tripping penalty, which led to Foligno’s power-play goal at 5:43 of the first period. It was Columbus’ first goal with a man advantage after going 0 for 18 in its last six games.
The Kings struck back at 6:51 on Kopitar’s fifth goal of the season. Kopitar took the pass at the front of the net from a cornered Brown.
The Kings took the lead 42 seconds later when Lewis went top shelf with a backhander over Bobrovsky.
Bjorkstrand tied it, burying a rebound from David Savard past Quick at 8:00, and Columbus made it 3-2 at 14:02 when Calvert corralled a bouncing puck that had been manhandled toward the net by Jack Johnson and Josh Anderson.
Muzzin tied it again when he went over Bobrovsky’s left shoulder 40 seconds into the second period.
The Kings took the lead just over three minutes later when Doughty’s shot from the left end of the blue line caught Bobrovsky off guard.
The Jackets again battled back, as Milano broke free just inside the blue line and took the puck in unassisted with 4:45 left in the second.
The score remained deadlocked until Kopitar beat Bobrovsky late in the third.
Brown added an empty-net goal.
Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella called Kopitar’s winner “defendable.”
“We missed the coverage,” he said simply. “I don’t think we played it that well in the corner, but it’s still a 30 foot pass cross ice. (Calvert) sees the guy and just lets him get behind. That’s a very defendable goal. …That’s an was coverage.”
Kings coach John Stevens credited his team leaders with big efforts that led to big goals.
“The Kopitar line – not only were they good defensively – but they carried the load offensively,” Stevens said. “It was kind of an up and down game but they stayed with it. It’s not surprising they put the puck in the net at the end of the game.
“I think they have taken a leadership role from day one, and they certainly came up big here tonight.”
Notes: The Kings played their first game without center Jeff Carter. He’s out indefinitely after being cut by a skate Wednesday. He had surgery on his left leg Thursday. … The game was the Kings’ first game outside of California this season. … Columbus forward Boone Jenner played in his first game of the season. He missed the preseason and first seven games with a middle-body injury.
Kings: At Toronto on Monday night.
Blue Jackets: Host Buffalo on Wednesday night.