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Kings' Richards contributing despite scoring funk

by Corey Masisak

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Through nine games of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Anze Kopitar and Mike Richards have a couple of things in common.

One is, the Los Angeles Kings forwards each saw a lot of ice time against the top two centers of the San Jose Sharks, Joe Thornton and Logan Couture, in the first round. The other is they have matching Corsi for percentages.

The Kings have attempted 50.6 percent of the shots when Kopitar is on the ice at even strength, which is the same number as when Richards is out there.

That's where the similarities end. Kopitar leads the NHL with 14 points this postseason; Richards has no goals and two points heading into Game 3 against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday at Staples Center (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

"Yeah. Frustrated is a good way to say it, I guess," Richards said when asked about the zero next to his name in the goals column. "You always want to help the team win. If it's scoring goals or doing different things, you try to help in any way possible. Obviously scoring goals would be nice, I'm not going to lie, but you can't get frustrated. If you show frustration, that can kind of trickle throughout the team too. It's not a selfish thing, it's not a personal thing. It's all about the team right now. It's all about winning hockey games. You want to contribute by scoring goals, but at the same time we're winning games right now and I've got to keep doing the same things to help the team."

There's another thing that is not as similar between the two centers. Richards has more shots on goal than Kopitar.

Kopitar has scored four times in 17 shots and the Kings are shooting 12.7 percent when he's on the ice. Richards has no goals on 23 attempts that have been on target.

"He's second on our team in shots next to [Marian] Gaborik," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "That's significant."

Richards had five shots in the first four games of the series against the Sharks, all in Game 2. He has 18 in the past five, including eight in Game 7 against San Jose and four in Game 1 of this Western Conference Second Round best-of-7 series, which the Kings lead 2-0.

There was a 2-on-1 when Richards missed the net wide in Game 1 against Anaheim. There were three or four prime opportunities against the Sharks near the end of that series. The puck simply hasn't gone in for Richards to this point.

Kopitar is facing tougher competition, but has better quality among his teammates. It's obviously not all luck that's created the gap in the two teammates' stats, but Richards can feel like he's deserved a better fate. Only Rick Nash of the New York Rangers has more shots without a goal this postseason (41).

Part of Richards' role when Sutter moved him to a line with Kyle Clifford and Trevor Lewis during the previous series was to help slow down San Jose's top line of Thornton, Brent Burns and either Joe Pavelski or Tomas Hertl.

Thornton saw Richards or Jeff Carter for 76 percent of his ice time at even strength in the series, and Kopitar was mostly lined up against Couture. Thornton and Burns combined for no points in the final four games and the Kings rallied from a 3-0 deficit to win.

The next two games against the Ducks will be at home. Richards is going to keep shooting and try to continue to be part of a big advantage (depth at center) for the Kings in this series.

"It's penalty killing, it's playing physical, it's winning faceoffs, it's everything that goes into helping the team win," Richards said. "Scoring goals would be nice and obviously shows up at the end of the game on the game sheet. I'd rather be an even or a plus-player than score a goal and be a minus-player. It's just about helping the team. Eventually the puck is going to go in, I think."

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