The Los Angeles Kings
' playoff hopes took a big hit Saturday when their leading scorer, center Anze Kopitar
, broke his right ankle in the second period. The Kings say he's expected to miss at least six weeks
Kopitar, who had an assist on a first-period goal, went down in the corner after getting tangled with Colorado defenseman Ryan O'Byrne
. Kopitar appeared to get his right leg twisted underneath him as he fell awkwardly. He didn't move for a couple of minutes before rising gingerly -- without putting any weight on the leg -- and being helped off the ice by a trainer and two teammates.
The Kings said Kopitar is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday.
Losing Kopitar, who has 25 goals and 73 points in 75 games, is a huge blow -- and it came less than a week after the Kings lost first-line right wing Justin Williams
, their No. 2 scorer, with a dislocated shoulder that's expected to keep him out for at least a month.
"He's our best player," Kings captain Dustin Brown
said of Kopitar after L.A. finished a 4-1 victory against the Avs to improve to 92 points, fifth in the West. "We've got to find a way, either way. Injuries happen during the year. You don't want to have your best player go down, but if that's the case, we need to shoulder the responsibility collectively and find a way. No other team is going to feel sorry for us. … We'll maybe find out what we're made of."
Kopitar was playing in his 330th consecutive game -- he passed Marcel Dionne
's previous record of 324 consecutive games earlier this month.
Kings coach Terry Murray
knows his team will have to scramble to make up for what Kopitar brings every night
"There's quite a hole that's going to be there now, with him out of the lineup for this length of time," Murray said. "But I've been through these kinds of things before, with top guys being out because of injuries. It's an opportunity. Other guys step up. The character of the team needs to step up.
"Everybody needs to do the right things and, just talking about the way we finished up the game in the third period, that's critical now. You've got to trust your structure and your system and give it the best opportunity you can, as a group now, to finish games off and play the right way."
Material from team media was used in this report.