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ROYAL ROAD REPORT: KOPITAR WEARING OUT JACKETS

by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings

The Kings concluded their five-game road trip with a 1-4-0 record, falling at Columbus, 5-4. The loss was their second one-goal loss on the trip, in addition to two, two-goal losses, one of which included an empty netter at Philadelphia.

MANNY BEING MANNY
The same night one Manny made a Los Angeles sports team extremely happy, another Manny was causing another LA sports team a headache.

As news of Manny Ramirez coming very close to a general agreement with the Dodgers broke, Columbus' Manny Malhotra tied his career high with two goals, including the game-winner, and adding an assist to tie his career high with three points (2-1=3).

"Both were great jobs by my linemates," Malhotra said of his two goals. "The first one they did a great job controlling the puck down low, and we’ve been stressing to our (defenseman) we need pucks to the net. So (Aaron) Rome had a great shot, just a quick release to the net, and I was able to get a stick on it. The second goal was, again, the mentality of give the puck to either (Kristian) Huselius or (Rick) Nash and get your stick on the ice and go to the net. That’s exactly what I did. They made a great tic-tac-toe play and I was fortunate to be on the finishing end of it."

Malhotra has collected 4-7=11 over the last nine games and is just eight points shy of 200 for his career (75-117=192 in 616 games).

"He was a horse tonight," Columbus head coach Ken Hitchcock said of Malhotra. "He’s been a good player all year for us. He’s risen to the occasion. You see it in his play, in his eyes, how much making the playoffs means to him and having success. He dragged people into the fight tonight. A lot of guys were tired and he wouldn’t let people die down. His play was exceptional in all three zones and we followed his lead."

KOPITAR WEARING OUT JACKETS
With his 21st goal of the season in the second period of Tuesday evening’s game against Columbus, Anze Kopitar picked up his-team high fifth point (2-3=5) against the Blue Jackets.

“It was a lucky bounce,” Kopitar said of his goal.

The goal also gives him his 191st point in his NHL and Kings career. .

Dustin Brown and Kyle Quincey are the other two Kings players who have tallied more than one point against the Blue Jackets this season.

OSCAR RETURNS
Oscar Moller, recalled from Manchester on Sunday, returned to the lineup as head coach Terry Murray shuffled the lineup, moving Brown up to the Kings top line with Alexander Frolov and Kopitar. Moller skated on the second line with Kyle Calder and Jarret Stoll while Teddy Purcell moved down to the fourth line and Peter Harrold was a scratch.

Kings Lines

Moller scored his seventh goal of the season and his first goal since Dec. 9 at Colorado to put the Kings up 4-3 in the second period. Moller, 20, had skated in one game with the Kings (Feb. 12 vs. Calgary) since returning from an injury (fractured clavicle) that he suffered at the 2009 World Junior Championships, which were held in Ottawa from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5.

"He played really good," coach Terry Murray said. "He was composed and made plays in pressure situations."

"He played an excellent game."

Moller had spent the previous two weeks at Manchester for conditioning.

PURCELL RETURNS TO THE SCORESHEET
Teddy Purcell,who was called up for the road trip to fill the spot of Dustin Brown while he and his wife were expecting a child, found his way back onto the scoresheet, tallying his second goal of the season and his first since Dec. 15 vs. San Jose, just his third game of the season.

"It was a great pass by (center Derek) Armstrong to me,” Purcell said. “(Columbus goaltender Steve) Mason didn’t see it. Columbus came out strong. (Manny) Malhotra got the tip to make it 3-1," Purcell said. "It was a good shift by our fourth line. It’s always good when we chip in. We kind of got things started there in the second."

Purcell's goal stopped a streak of three consecutive goals by the Blue Jackets which quickly turned a 1-0 Kings lead into a 3-1 deficit. Los Angeles would take a 4-3 lead but could not answer Columbus' tallies by Jiri Novotny and the winner by Malhotra.

"We got back to the things we’re successful at – getting in the forecheck and trying to create some turnovers," Purcell said of the Kings comeback. "Unfortunately, we didn’t come out with the two points. I guess it was a positive the way we bounced back."

The Kings return to Los Angeles for a three-game homestand with Dallas, Minnesota and Vancouver coming to town, all teams the Kings are chasing in the standings.

NO SHUTOUT THIS TIME...
The nine combined goals scored Tuesday evening eclipse the number of goals scored by both teams combined in the three previous meetings (8). In each of the three previous games, the winning team pitched a shutout with Los Angeles shutting out the Jackets, 3-0 on Dec. 6 and Dec. 23, before Columbus returned the favor with a 2-0 win on Dec. 29. Not so for this game, as the two teams combined for nine goals. Los Angeles' four goals were the most scored by the Kings since Feb. 18, a 4-3 win at Anaheim.

"You like the way they battled back," Murray said of his team. "There’s no question when you get down in the game like that, for two teams that had problems with the offensive part of the game."

Entering tonight’s game, Columbus had scored just three goals the previous three games (1-2-0), while the Kings had scored just four regulation goals (plus one shootout goal), over the first four games of the road trip.

"At the end of the day, their best players made the plays to win the game," Murray said. "That’s what it comes down to in a critical situation. That’s the way it supposed to be. Their best players stepped up and got it done. "

Eleven different Kings tallied points in the game, with Jarret Stoll the lone King with multiple-points, scoring 1-1=2. It was just the Kings seventh regulation loss of the season when scoring first, 22-7- 3 and Los Angeles is now 13-3-2 when Kopitar scores a goal.

NOTES
Tom Preissing cleared waivers today...The Kings are 10-7-1 in their last 18 games on the road since Dec. 23 vs. Columbus...Murray coached his 800th NHL game tonight, posting a 386-316-98 mark with Washington, Florida and Los Angeles...Forward Dustin Brown’s assist in the second period was his 100th in the NHL as well as with a member of the Los Angeles Kings...After going 4-1-0 in the team’s previous road trip in late January through early February, they finished this trip 1-4-0.

Compiled by Cody Leist and Thomas LaRocca | LAKings.com

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