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For Kopitar, it's time to 'exhale, look back, and return ready to go'

by Alex Kinkopf / Los Angeles Kings

If there’s any sense of comfort for Anze Kopitar following the abrupt end to the Kings’ season Friday night, it’s got to come from the security of the eight-year contract extension the team’s star forward signed in January.

Kopitar, a franchise fixture, is secured in Los Angeles through the 2023-’24 season, and has played through both dark times and the best of times in a Kings uniform – the only NHL team he’s known.

This season? Far from the worst, but short of what could have been.

Kopitar’s four points (2G, 2A) during the playoffs were the second-most recorded on the team during their Western Conference Quarterfinal Series against San Jose. Kopitar scored the Kings’ lone goal in regulation in the team’s 2-1 OT win in Game 3, and got the Kings on the board in Game 5 to start the team’s comeback from a three-goal deficit.

However, for a player with two Stanley Cup Championships under his belt, the early exit from the playoffs was no easy pill to swallow.

“It’s definitely disappointing, we definitely had other plans in mind, but it didn’t happen obviously. We got eliminated, and we’ve got to live with this now,” he said of the first round loss. “It’s going to be a longer summer, again, and now it’s just time to kind of exhale, look back, and see what everybody can do better, and come back next year ready to go again.”

Kopitar had an extremely respectable season from a personal standpoint, his 74 points (25G, 49A) the highest total since he recorded 76 in 2011-’12. Kopitar’s 49 assists were the second-highest total in his career.

As for his summer plans?

“Stick around here for a bit, nothing special, go home for a bit, then come back, and I guess go to Toronto and do that for a few weeks, and then get back at it here again.”

WATCH: End-of-Season Kopitar Interview

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