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game recap

Kovalchuk, Kings defeat Golden Knights

Scores twice to help hand Vegas seventh loss in eight games

by Dan Greenspan / Correspondent

Kovalchuk strikes on a breakaway

VGK@LAK: Kovalchuk beats Fleury on a breakaway

Ilya Kovalchuk skates in alone and makes a nice move to his forehand before putting the puck home to give the Kings a 1-0 lead

  • 00:53 •

LOS ANGELES -- Ilya Kovalchuk scored twice, Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist, and the Los Angeles Kings won 5-2 against the Vegas Golden Knights at Staples Center on Saturday.

Matt Roy and Jeff Carter also scored, and Jonathan Quick made 29 saves for the Kings (31-42-9), who went 6-3-1 after being eliminated from playoff contention.

"At least you get to walk away from the last game with a good feeling, not only the fans but for the guys in this room," Kings forward Dustin Brown said. "It's been a hard season for everybody."


[WATCH: All Golden Knights vs. Kings highlights]


Brandon Pirri and Valentin Zykov scored for the Golden Knights (43-32-7), who finished the regular season 1-5-2 in their final eight games. Jimmy Schuldt got his first point in his NHL debut, and Marc-Andre Fleury made 27 saves.

Vegas will play the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference First Round.

"It's sort of a meaningless game point-wise, but you got to play the best you can, and we'll be ready for Wednesday or Thursday night," Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant said.

Video: VGK@LAK: Kovalchuk hits the empty net to seal the win

Roy put the Kings ahead 3-0 at 10:35 of the second period with a wrist shot from the right circle.

Pirri cut the lead to 3-1 at 10:51 with a half slap shot from the slot, and Zykov made it 3-2 at 13:09.

Schuldt got his first point with the primary assist on a long pass that gave Zykov a sharp-angle shot into an open goal.

"I just tried to be in good spots and read the play a little bit. [Zykov] was in a good spot and he put that away," Schuldt said.

Schuldt, who signed an entry-level contract on Wednesday, also blocked one shot while playing 21:03.

"For his first NHL game, and to come into a game like this, every pass he made was on the tape," Gallant said. "He played real good, strong defense, and to make that play to Zykov, definitely a great first game for him."

Video: VGK@LAK: Schuldt sets up Zykov for nice goal

Kopitar scored his first power-play goal of the season to give the Kings a 4-2 lead at 8:52 of the third period. Vegas challenged Kopitar's 22nd goal for goaltender interference, but the call on the ice was confirmed.

Kovalchuk scored into an empty net at 19:05 for the 5-2 final. It was the second multigoal game for Kovalchuk, who finished with 16 goals in his return to the NHL after playing the past five seasons for SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League.

The Kings took a 1-0 lead at 12:14 of the first period. Kovalchuk stole the puck from Zykov at the Kings blue line and sped down the ice on a breakaway, scoring into an open net after getting Fleury to commit.

Carter made it 2-0 at 15:00, scoring from close range on his own rebound following a turnover by the Golden Knights in their own zone.

"I thought we played pretty well the last couple of games here," Kings forward Kyle Clifford said. "It's going to be a long offseason but it's nice to go home with a win, especially against those guys too that ended our season last year. But, at the same time, it's not good enough. We know we need to have a big offseason and get ready for next year."

Video: VGK@LAK: Carter bangs in a rebound to double the lead


They said it

"It's what you play for. I'm looking forward to it. It's a special group of guys with big expectations, so I know that game, whenever it is, can't come soon enough." -- Golden Knights forward Brandon Pirri on the Stanley Cup Playoffs

"There are definitely some promising young players in this room. A guy like Carl Grundstrom, he did an outstanding job coming in the last 15 games. I thought his game was really good. Austin Wagner was great all year, and a couple of the D-men. We know they are going to have a big offseason and get ready to compete to get back in the playoffs next year." -- Kings forward Kyle Clifford


Need to know

Brown had two assists to reach the 50-point mark for the seventh time in 15 NHL seasons, finishing with 51 points (22 goals, 29 assists). … Clifford had 21 points (11 goals, 10 assists) to set NHL career highs in all three categories. … Grundstrom, playing his 15th NHL game, got his first assist and first power-play point. … Kings forward Blake Lizotte won 4 of 8 face-offs and blocked one shot in his NHL debut. Lizotte, who played 11:12, was the ninth Kings player to make his NHL debut this season. … Lizotte and Schuldt played together at St. Cloud State.


What's next

Golden Knights: At the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round (TBD)

Kings: Season over

Video: Kovalchuk helps Kings win season finale, 5-2

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