|Would Anze Kopitar have scored this amazing goal last year? Head coach Terry Murray says no. It was the first of the talented center's three goals on Thursday night.
The fans didn’t even know he did it, and at the time, they didn't know the Kings would need it. Kopitar's Hat Trick
As the teams lined up for a face off following the Kings fourth goal of the evening, it wasn’t until replays on the jumbotron confirmed that the goal did in fact belong to Anze Kopitar that a flood of hats began to rain on the ice.
Los Angeles’ talented center tallied his first career hat trick on Thursday night as the Kings opened up a comfortable 4-1 lead, only to have to hold on for a 5-4 OT win after a difficult third stanza.
"It feels great," Kopitar said, "it almost didn’t feel great, the way the game ended, but we got two points and that’s the most important thing I guess, right now. We have to look forward and maybe forget the last period of this one and just keep going forward."
Kopitar is enjoying a breakout fourth season having already scored 8-8=16 in the first 10 games of the year. To compare, Kopitar did not tally his eighth goal of the season until the 28th game of 2008-09.
Kopitar tallied his first goal of the game just 3:54 into the contest out-muscling Stephane Robidas in cutting to the net and tucking the puck past Alex Auld for a 1-0 lead with a highlight-reel effort. ( 700K )
After the game, Terry Murray was asked about his star center's amazing first period goal and if he scores that goal last year.
"No, he doesn’t," Murray said. "He ends up going around behind the net. That’s a hockey-player play. That’s a powerful play and it takes a very courageous player to make that strong move. Boy, for a young guy to start playing like that and showing that kind of performance, that’s pretty exciting stuff."
Kopitar knew he would have to step his game up after linemate Justin Williams suffered an injury during the team’s morning skate that resulted in the two-time 30-goal scorer missing Thursday’s game vs. Dallas. Entering the game, the Kings top line of Ryan Smyth-Kopitar-Williams had combined to score 14 of the Kings 28 goals and 35 points overall in the first nine games of the year.
But with a new linemate, Wayne Simmonds, who also scored ( 700K), the chemistry continued.
"[Simmonds] got the chance and I think he took it," Kopitar said of his new linemate. "He played really well. He made some strong plays and it was definitely good having him on the right side."
After the Stars had cut the Kings 2-0 lead created by Kopitar and Simmonds in half, Kopitar righted the ship on the power play moving from behind the net, faking a centering pass and then beating Auld with the back hand at 7:17 for his second goal of the night ( 700K ).
Kopitar completed his trick 9:55 into the second period when his shot beat Auld, with Simmonds in front of the net creating quite a bit of traffic in the Dallas goal mouth to make it 4-1. ( 700K)
A comfortable lead on most nights, but not on this night when four teams (LA, Washington, Columbus and Nashville) all nearly blew three-goal leads as Dallas rallied for three third period goals to force overtime.
It was Michal Handzus that scored the game winner for LA and made Kopitar's hat trick still relevant.
Ironic as Kopi's trick was the Kings first since March 5, 2009, also against Dallas, turned by one Mr. Handzus, with ironically (the word of the night), the third goal also coming in overtime.
For the record, the Kings have now had 167 hat tricks in team history. The Kings record for goals in a game is four, which has occurred 17 times in their history, the last being Nov. 25, 1993 when Luc Robitaille lit the lamp four times at Quebec.