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NHL Stadium Series

Toffoli shines for Kings in Stadium Series despite trade rumors

Forward gets first hat trick in NHL outdoor game history in win against Avalanche

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- Tyler Toffoli reminded the rest of the NHL that he's still a top goal-scorer, and potentially boosted his trade stock in the process, when he scored the first hat trick in NHL outdoor game history for the Los Angeles Kings in a 3-1 win against the Colorado Avalanche in the 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series game at Falcon Stadium on Saturday.

"It's pretty cool. You know what, it was a lot of fun," Toffoli said. "Just going out there, [Anze Kopitar] and [Alex Iafallo] said just get open and put it in the empty net. I think that's the most nervous I've ever been putting the puck in an empty net in my life, but it worked."

Toffoli leads the Kings with 18 goals this season, but with the right wing set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and Los Angeles (21-33-5) sitting in last place in the Western Conference, he has been the subject of trade rumors ahead of the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 24.

"Lot of (trade) talk, right? Lot of talk about a lot of guys," Kings forward Jeff Carter said. "I think every single guy has done a good job of knowing you have a job to do. Play hockey, do the best you can, right? Leave it all on the ice. Everybody's proud to be an LA King no matter what's going on this year and all the talk."

 

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Kings coach Todd McLellan said he has been particularly impressed by how Toffoli has persevered despite some struggles this season, including a stretch when he scored three goals in 22 games from Oct. 22-Dec.7.

"Incredible night for [Toffoli] and his line," McLellan said. "That's the type of player he is. He's got some poise in and around the net and he's patient. It's nice to see him get rewarded. He's had numerous chances, a little snakebit. His numbers would normally be a little bit higher, but real good night."

To defenseman Alec Martinez, Saturday said a lot about Toffoli's character to deliver a historic performance on a national stage with all the rumors swirling.

"It's fun to watch, you know?" Martinez said. "History is fun to watch. It's awesome. [Toffoli is] a professional. I'm lucky to call him one of my best friends as well. Obviously, super happy for him to make history. I'm glad he was able to get that third one at the end."

Video: LAK@COL: Toffoli records first NHL outdoor hat trick

When Kopitar was asked whether Toffoli's performance would open eyes around the League, the Kings captain was quick to agree and said it's been special to play with Toffoli since he entered the League with Los Angeles in 2013.

"Yea for sure," Kopitar said. "We've played together, we won [the Stanley Cup in 2014] together. That's the ultimate thing about our relationship and he's obviously a great person -- we've hung out a bunch off the ice, too. For him to get a hat trick in an outdoor game, he's obviously very excited about it and so are we."

Regardless of what happens before the deadline, defenseman Drew Doughty said Toffoli, who is on pace for his fourth 20-goal season and led the Kings in scoring with 31 goals in 2015-16, will go down as one of the best scorers during his tenure with Los Angeles.

"[Toffoli is] a big goal-scorer," Doughty said. "We've always lacked scoring goals on our team, and he's been one of the more prolific ones on our team."

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