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Kings lose Kopitar to ankle injury

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
The Kings won on the ice Saturday, but suffered a huge loss when leading scorer Anze Kopitar broke his ankle in the second period. Kopitar will undergo an MRI on Monday, but initial estimates have Kopitar missing at least six weeks, the team said.

Kopitar, who earlier had assisted on a first-period goal, went down in the corner of the STAPLES Center ice after getting tangled with Colorado defenseman Ryan O'Byrne. Kopitar appeared to get his right leg twisted underneath him as he fell awkwardly.

After a couple minutes without movement, Kopitar rose tenderly and, without putting any weight on his leg, was helped off the ice by a team trainer and two teammates. Kopitar is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Monday, a team spokesman said.

Without Kopitar, the Kings finished off a 4-1 victory over the Avalanche.

"He's our best player," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "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."

The Kings were playing their second game without first-line winger Justin Williams, the team's second-leading scorer, who suffered a dislocated shoulder in Monday's victory over Calgary. Now they're without Koptiar, who has a team-high 73 points in 75 games.

"He's your top player, your top forward," Kings coach Terry Murray said.

"There's quite a hole that's going to be there now, with him out of the lineup for this length of time. 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."

Kopitar was playing in his 330th consecutive game, a franchise record that he set this month when he broke Marcel Dionne's previous record of 324 consecutive games.
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