Los Angeles blows 4-goal lead, but Mike Richards leads Kings' rally for 7-4 win over Phoenix

Friday, 10.25.2013 / 1:25 AM The Canadian Press

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Dwight King had his first career three-goal game, Mike Richards scored the tiebreaking goal on a short-handed breakaway early in the third period, and the Los Angeles Kings blew a four-goal lead before earning a 7-4 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Thursday night.

Anze Kopitar ended his 26-game regular-season goal drought and King scored twice during a four-goal first period. Jordan Nolan also scored for the Kings, whose 4-0 lead evaporated in less than 13 minutes starting midway through the second.

Martin Hanzal scored two goals and captain Shane Doan tied it with 17:10 to play for the Coyotes, who had earned a point in seven consecutive games. Jeff Halpern also scored in Phoenix's first regulation loss since Oct. 8.

King completed his hat trick on an empty-net goal with 21.1 seconds to play. The tough left wing had never scored more than one goal in his first 90 NHL games.

Jonathan Quick made 24 saves for Los Angeles, which has won six of eight. Matt Frattin also scored his first goal of the season in the third period, and Kopitar had three points.

Mike Smith stopped 11 shots in the first period before Thomas Greiss replaced him for the Coyotes. The German backup stopped 20 shots in just his third appearance of the season.

The Kings responded to a home loss to Calgary with an impressive first period against the Coyotes — but then lost the results of their hard work before Richards and Frattin took care of the victory.

Kopitar ended his goal drought just 42 seconds into the game, beating Smith with a quick shot from the slot during a power play.

Kopitar has been the Kings' leading scorer in each of the past six seasons, but he failed to score a goal in the final 16 games of last season before managing just three playoff goals during the defending Stanley Cup champions' run to the Western Conference finals.

The Slovenian star had eight assists in the Kings' first 10 games this month, but his goal frustration was compounded Monday against Calgary when he was whistled for a dubious late penalty, allowing the Flames to score the winning goal in the final 30 seconds.

Nolan, a healthy scratch in the Kings' last game, pushed the lead to 3-0 before King redirected a long shot by Robyn Regehr for Los Angeles' highest-scoring first period since Dec. 18, 2010.

Phoenix answered midway through the second period when Halpern easily tapped home a tumbling shot through traffic for his first goal of the season. Hanzal scored moments later, slyly banking a backhand off Quick from behind the goal line.

Hanzal silenced Staples Center early in the third period when he tipped home Keith Yandle's shot on a power play. Doan, who missed the Coyotes' last game, evened it 59 seconds later with a long shot through traffic.

But Richards put the Kings back ahead 1:29 later, taking the puck away from Radim Vrbata at mid-ice to create a two-man breakaway. The veteran centre beat Greiss low to end his goal drought of 13 regular-season games.

Frattin added his first goal with his new team later in the period. The forward was the main return from the Kings' trade of goalie Jonathan Bernier to Toronto.

NOTES: Phoenix lost D Rostislav Klesla to a lower-body injury early in the game. The team had no immediate update on his condition. ... Kopitar has 47 career points against Phoenix, his highest total against any opponent. ... Richards hadn't scored a short-handed goal since March 30, 2012.

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