New York Hockey: Anze Kopitar

Kopitar's nifty breakaway goal wins Game 1

May, 31, 2012
NEWARK, N.J. -- Anze Kopitar waited in the middle of the ice, hoping for a chance to end Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals.

(It didn't take long for Kopitar to get that chance -- and when he did, he didn't miss it.

Kopitar took a Justin Williams pass, moved in on a breakaway and beat Martin Brodeur 8:13 into overtime, giving the Kings a 2-1 victory over the Devils on Wednesday night at the Prudential Center. Los Angeles is now 9-0 on the road in the postseason.

Jim O'Connor/US PresswireAnze Kopitar slips the winner past Martin Brodeur.

"Anytime you get a chance to finish it off in OT against a world-class goaltender like Marty, it's a great feeling," said Kopitar, 24, who moved into a tie with captain Dustin Brown for the team's postseason lead in points with 16 (seven goals, nine assists).

The Devils had several chances to finish it off in the sudden-death session. Kopitar only needed one.

Drew Doughty chipped the puck up to Williams along the boards. Dainius Zubrus and Bryce Salvador both went to battle him, leaving Kopitar all alone. Williams sent a perfect backhanded pass to Kopitar, and he did the rest, faking a backhand before going forehand for the game-winner.

"I don't know if he heard me or not, but I yelled for the puck," Kopitar said. He chipped it perfectly, right onto my tape. It all happened pretty quickly and I was able to finish it off."

"Anytime you see your own guy going in overtime on a breakaway, especially No. 11, you think he's gonna score, and he made a great play," Williams said.

Kopitar had a reason for going to his forehand against Brodeur.

"I guess it was back a few years when we were in a shootout in L.A. and I went backhand," Kopitar said. "Maybe that's why he thought I was gonna go backhand again. I guess I just wanted to mix it up."

W2W4: Kings vs. Devils

October, 13, 2011
The Devils would love to build some early momentum with a win over one of the West’s best teams. Here’s what to watch for when the puck drops at The Rock tonight.

A familiar face

Mike Richards is no stranger to the Garden State. Richards already has a goal and an assist in two games with his new team, but in his former life as a Flyer, Richards never really tormented the Devils in their own lair. In fact, the last time he scored a goal in New Jersey's barn was a little over two years ago, Oct. 3, 2010. He’ll have a little extra help tonight however as Dustin Penner will make his season debut alongside Richards and Dustin Brown.

That doesn't mean Richards won't make his presence felt though, and the biggest beneficiary may be Anze Kopitar. The fledgling star found the back of the net three times during the Kings’ trip across the pond. While its only two games, Kopitar has been enjoying more time in the offensive zone, taking 64 percent of his draws in the O-zone, about a 12% increase over last season.

Early-season sit-rep

As the Devils know from last season, “early” can become “late” mighty quick, so it has to be encouraging that both Zach Parise (back from injury) and Ilya Kovalchuk (back from a season of underperformance) are off to fast starts with multiple points in their first two games.

It would be more encouraging if the Devils could get some more rubber on the net as a team, topping out at 26 shots on goal through first two games, but if L.A. holds true to its form from a season ago that could be tough. The Kings allowed just 27.9 shots against per game, the third best mark in the league in 2010-11.

Late legs

While the Devs have largely been able to hang at home since the start of training camp, the Kings have been flying all over Europe in the early going. In theory that should give the Devils a little edge in the fatigue department late in the game. That will be good to have, but a lead after two periods would be better. It’s a different team in 2011-12, but last season’s Devs won 22 of 24 games in which they led entering the third period. Conversely, they rallied just four times in 39 opportunities when trailing after 40 minutes.

Lundqvist secures win No. 200 in the shootout

February, 17, 2011
NEW YORK—This milestone wouldn’t come easy for Henrik Lundqvist.

Twice in the third period the Los Angeles Kings found ways to tie the game against the Rangers All-Star goalie in the third period, preventing the Rangers from winning the game in regulation.

In the shootout, Lundqvist allowed a goal on the second shot and needed to stop the third to secure a Rangers victory.

But just like he’s done so many times, Lundqvist made the stop on the third shot to give the Rangers the 4-3 shootout win—and also give him win No. 200 of his career.

Lundqvist is now fourth on the Rangers all-time list, tied with John Vanbiesbouck. In his sixth season, Lundqvist improved to 23-18-4 on the year an edging closer to his sixth straight 30-win season.

“It’s a great feeling to reach that. It’s a milestone for me,” Lundqvist said. “I’m happy I’ve been able to be here for almost six years now. I just hope I get the opportunity to stay here and get another 200. I’m very happy to reach that, it’s a sign I’ve been part of good teams.”

Including Thursday night’s game, it’s been a rough stretch of late for the Rangers franchise goalie. In his last eight games, Lundqvist is 3-5 and has allowed 25 goals. In the eight games prior to this streak, Lundqvist had just allowed 11 goals

While he stopped 25 of 28 shots, he failed to make some key saves late in the game that could’ve sealed a Rangers win in regulation and made win No. 200 much easier for him.

After the Rangers took a 2-1 lead at the 6:10 mark of the third, Lundqvist allowed a goal just one minute and 40 seconds later. The Rangers later took a 3-2 lead with 3:08 left, but Lundqvist yielded the equalizer just 47 seconds after, a shot that deflected off the back of his facemask into the back of net.

“I felt pretty good today. The last few goals were tough bounces,” Lundqvist said. “I don’t really know what to say. I felt like my positioning was there and I saw the puck pretty well. They were doing a good job getting people and bodies in front of me the whole night.”

The game eventually headed to overtime and the shootout, but that was no time to panic for Lundqvist. The shootout is when the goalie is at his best, as he now owns a 34-23 record and has stopped 168 of 221 shots in overtime (70 percent).

Lundqvist stopped the first shot, allowed the second goal, but stonewalled Anze Kopitar with the game on the line to pick up two crucial points for the Rangers. New York scored on its first two shots in the shootout.

“He’s the backbone of this team and if we are going to have success he is going to have to be good and he was tonight,” Rangers forward Ryan Callahan said. “He’s done it for a couple years now and we have all the confidence in the world in Hank.”

After the game, Lundqvist was more pleased with his teammates and the two points for the win than his personal milestone. He praised his team’s resiliency to win this game after he allowed the two late goals, saying his teammates never gave up.

His coach liked the goalie’s effort and hopes there more wins to come for Lundqvist, who is still over 400 wins behind Devils goalie Martin Brodeur.

“He came up big. It was tough spot for him because how the goal goes in, I don’t blame Hank, it was one of those fluky goals and he’s had a number of those of late and tonight was good for him as far as getting an opportunity to make the big save to win a hockey game,” Rangers coach John Tortorella said. “He needs to win more. He’s won 200, that’s great, I’m happy for him, but he needs to be our guy as we go through this stretch here with 23 games left.”