The last person the struggling Columbus Blue Jackets
needed to see was Anze Kopitar
The Los Angeles Kings center seems to save some of his best performances for the Jackets. One of them came Friday, when he had his second career hat trick to lead the Los Angeles Kings to a 4-2 victory against the Jackets at Nationwide Arena.
"It's a nice building. Everything around here is nice," said Kopitar, who has 8 goals and 5 assists in a nine-game points streak against the Blue Jackets. "When I first broke into the League and (started) coming here, I felt good pretty much every night in this building. Some nights are obviously better than others."
There haven't been many good nights for the Jackets recently -- they've dropped seven in a row and are all but out of the playoff race.
"I thought we played very, very hard in the first," coach Scott Arniel said. "We outchanced them 9-2, 15 shots on goal and we're losing 2-1 on a deflection and a rebound goal. The second period we took four minors and took the whole flow out of our game."
Kopitar had his hat trick by the midpoint of the second period. He was in the penalty box for hooking, but got out just in time to receive Dustin Brown's seeing-eye stretch pass at the blue line. Kopitar then deked goalie Steve Mason before scoring easily on the forehand.
"It's funny how that happens sometimes when guys are just coming out the penalty box," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "We're kind of sitting on our pants in front of our net and take a swipe at the puck and it ends up at the right spot at the right time. And he makes a real great move on it."
Justin Williams had a goal and 2 assists and Drew Doughty added a pair of assists for the Kings, who are sixth in the West and second among the four teams tied at 81 points.
"We look at the standings, we know where we are, we know how important every game is," Williams said. "It doesn't matter who we play."
Kopitar, a 23-year-old Slovenian, scored three goals only once before in his 386 NHL career games, on Oct. 22, 2009, against Dallas. He now has 24 goals this season.
The Kings got a scare when Doughty was checked by Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger into one of the upright glass supports near the Columbus bench early in the third period. Doughty went face-first into the padded stanchion, hitting it while standing up straight, and then buckled to the ice. He was on all fours for several minutes before being helped to the dressing room.
However, Doughty returned to the ice soon after and took his regular shift the rest of the way.
"I just got it right in the nose," Doughty said. "There was just a little bit of blood, nothing drastic. I obviously didn't see the turnbuckle, I had my head down on the play and rammed right into it. I'm fine. He obviously didn't mean to do it."
Scottie Upshall and Derick Brassard scored for the Blue Jackets, who were in the middle of the playoff hunt until their recent collapse. The Kings have won six of the last seven meetings with Columbus.
The Blue Jackets were pressing for a tying goal - and came close several times - before Williams' goal with 1:34 left settled matters. Brassard hit the post on a shot from point-blank range with just over 2 minutes remaining.
But that's the way things have gone lately.
"We put the big push on at the end and had some chances," Arniel said. "Brass had that great opportunity at the end. We couldn't find a way to get it tied up."
Material from team media and wire services was used in this report