Kopitar scores four as Kings ground Jets in shootout

WINNIPEG — Adrian Kempe scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Los Angeles Kings a 6-5 come-from-behind victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.

Kings captain Anze Kopitar scored four goals, including a natural hat trick in the second period. It was the 35-year-old’s sixth career hat trick and second time he’s scored four goals in an NHL game.

Los Angeles forward Gabriel Vilardi tied the game 5-5 with 4:06 remaining in the third period when he grabbed a loose puck and fired it past Jets netminder Connor Hellebuyck. Both teams had quality scoring chances in overtime.

Drew Doughty had a pair of assists and Pheonix Copley made 26 saves for the Kings (34-20-8), who ended a five-game road trip with a 2-2-1 mark.

Winnipeg all-star defenceman Josh Morrissey scored twice and added a pair of assists, the first four-point game of his career.

The Jets lost their fourth consecutive game (0-3-1), their first four-game losing streak of the season. Winnipeg is now 1-5-1 in its last seven games.

Kevin Stenlund had a pair of goals and Kyle Connor also scored for the Jets (35-24-2). Mark Scheifele and Dylan DeMelo each contributed two assists.

Hellebuyck stopped 32 shots for Winnipeg, which ended a three-game homestand.

The Jets led 2-0 after the first period and 5-3 following the second.

A minute after Winnipeg came up empty on its first power play, Morrissey registered his 12th goal of the season on a heads-up play.

Scheifele was at the side of the Los Angeles net, trying to jam the puck past Copley. As the puck slid into the crease, Morrissey raced in and banged it into the net at 15:52.

Blake Wheeler assisted on the goal, recording the 600th helper of his NHL career. He’s the 97th player in league history to reach the milestone.

Morrissey made it 2-0 just over a minute-and-a-half later when the all-star defenceman’s blast from the point went high past Copley at 17:35.

Los Angeles got on the board 26 seconds into the second period.

Six seconds after Jets defenceman Neal Pionk was called for holding, Kevin Fiala sent a pass to Kopitar and he fired the puck by Hellebuyck for his 21st of the season.

Winnipeg responded with Connor’s 27th goal to make it 3-1, but Kopitar tied it by tipping in two goals.

First Kopitar tipped in an Alexander Edler point shot at 9:14, then did the same with a Doughty shot at 10:43.

Stenlund gave the Jets the 5-3 lead at 12:00, then scored short-handed six minutes later.

The Kings had four power plays in the middle frame, including one that rolled over for nine seconds into the third.

Kopitar notched his fourth goal of the game with a slap shot that beat Hellebuyck 1:26 of the third to squeeze Winnipeg’s lead to 5-4.


New Jets forward Nino Niederreiter, acquired in a trade last Saturday with the Nashville Predators, played his first game with Winnipeg and made a big impression with his fists.

With 1:51 left in the second period, Niederreiter checked Kings defenceman Sean Kurzi hard into the boards. Los Angeles forward Adrian Kempe came to his defence and they started fighting to cheers from the crowd.

After Niederreiter sat in the penalty box for roughing and an illegal check to the head of Durzi, Nikolaj Ehlers skated to the box, smiled at his new teammate and tapped the glass with his glove.

Niederreiter played on a line with Ehlers and centre Adam Lowry. Lowry, playing in his 600th career game, filled the spot of Pierre-Luc Dubois, who was out with a lower-body injury.


Jets: Travel to Edmonton to take on the Oilers Friday night.

Kings: Begin a three-game homestand Thursday against the Montreal Canadiens.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2023.

Judy Owen, The Canadian Press