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Kopitar, Martinez power Kings past Coyotes

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- Darryl Sutter was unaware that Saturday was the three-year anniversary of his hiring as Los Angeles Kings coach.

"I just know from being a farmer that the days are really short and we need a little bit more sunlight," Sutter said. "What is it? The 19th or the 20th? Then we start going the other way. We need that, a little more sunlight. A couple of more minutes tomorrow."

That sunny outlook could be applied to the Kings after the continued uptick of their power play and Marian Gaborik propelled them to a 4-2 win against the Arizona Coyotes at Staples Center.

Gaborik and Alec Martinez scored power-play goals for the Kings (17-11-6), who erased some bad puck luck with another opportunistic game with the man-advantage. Los Angeles is 5-for-11 on the power play the past two games after a 1-3-1 road trip, and Kopitar couldn’t explain it.

"I can’t tell you," Kopitar said. "We’re moving the puck good and we’re getting some good looks. A couple of bounces here and there is nice to get."

Kopitar had three assists after his four-assist game Thursday in a 6-4 win against the St. Louis Blues. He is the first Kings player to have back-to-back three-assist games since Michal Handzus in 2010. A big part of those numbers has to do with being reunited with Gaborik, with Jeff Carter on the right wing for a superstar line.

"It’s nice," Kopitar said. "Every guy will tell you that it’s nice when you build a little bit of chemistry and you somewhat know where the guys are going to be on the ice. It makes it easier. But I think the big thing too is coming out of our zone and really make sure we support each other pretty good. That’s why we can get some open looks in the O-zone."

Martinez scored on a slap shot at 1:34 of the third period to make it 3-2 with Martin Hanzal serving a delay of game penalty for closing his hand on the puck. Gaborik took a backhand pass from Kopitar in the high slot and scored on a wrist shot at 17:40 of the second for his sixth goal in four games.

The Coyotes (11-17-4) are 2-5-1 in December, with the wins coming against the Edmonton Oilers, and they have one regulation win in their past 14 games. Arizona’s penalty kill has allowed 10 goals in nine games. Coyotes goalie Devan Dubnyk was concerned with being shorthanded 31 times in that span.

"I think anytime in this league you continually put a team on the power play it’s going to be difficult," Dubnyk said. "It proved to be tonight. [If] we continue to go back in there and get their best players on the ice moving the puck around, they’re going to be able to make plays."

The Coyotes never made a push. They had three shots in the third period and none on a late power play, which made the Hanzal penalty stand out.

"You need to stay out of the box, and we didn’t do it," Hanzal said. "My first shift [of the third period] and I took a dumb, stupid penalty and they scored. That was the turning point."

Hanzal rejoined the Coyotes two-and-a-half hours before puck drop after his wife gave birth to their first daughter Friday. He wouldn’t say the whirlwind 24 hours affected him.

"It was a special day for me, but I still think it’s unacceptable," he said. "It’s my job and I have to be ready to play."

Arizona took a 2-1 lead on goals in the second period by Hanzal and Kyle Chipchura. Hanzal outworked Drew Doughty on a drive to the net before Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin inadvertently hit the puck into the net at 44 seconds. Chipchura had a pass go off Mike Richards’ skate, Brayden McNabb’s stick and over Kings goalie Jonathan Quick’s glove at 5:42.

If the Kings needed more proof that the bounces were not going their way, Carter shot what might have been a rolling puck over a wide-open net late in the second period.

"It could easily go south in a hurry after those two goals, but [we] stuck together and got it really done on the power play, and I thought our penalty was really solid tonight too," Kopitar said.

Carter’s second goal in as many games gave the Kings a 1-0 lead. Arizona defenseman Keith Yandle’s clear attempt in the corner turned over to Kopitar, who fed Carter on the right side at 17:22 of the first period.

Quick, who had allowed four goals in consecutive games for the first time since the 2014 Western Conference Final, made 15 saves. He stopped David Moss on a shorthanded breakaway in the opening minute and made impressive saves twice on Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the second.

Kings defenseman Jamie McBain had two assists in the Kings’ first game since defenseman Robyn Regehr was placed on injured reserve because of a hand injury.

Arizona defenseman Michael Stone (upper body) and forward Lauri Korpikoski (lower body) did not play. Arizona coach Dave Tippett coached his 900th NHL game. He is the 30th coach in League history to reach that milestone.

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