LOS ANGELES (CBSNewYork/AP) — Anze Kopitar went to the net, shrugged off New York’s defense and tipped home a dramatic goal for the Los Angeles Kings.
And then he did it again in overtime.
With two major scores from their big man in the middle, the Kings got closer to a division title with a victory that left the Rangers fuming.
Kopitar got the tying goal with 4:10 to play and redirected the winner at 1:34 of overtime, propelling Los Angeles to a 4-3 victory Thursday night.
After tipping home a shot by Milan Lucic to force OT, Kopitar deflected a slap shot by Jake Muzzin to end it for the Pacific Division-leading Kings, who rallied from a two-goal deficit for their third straight win over a probable playoff team.
“It was pretty much like a playoff game,” Kopitar said. “Lots of checking, and not a lot of room out there. … We knew it was going to be a tough game, and to come back in the third like we did, it shows the character we have in this room. It’s a nice little boost for our hockey club.”
Los Angeles won after trailing to start the third period for the NHL-best eighth time this season, claiming its league-leading 13th overtime or shootout victory of the year.
Dustin Brown had a goal and an assist, and Jeff Carter had three assists as the Kings pulled six points ahead of the Anaheim Ducks in their quest for just their second division banner in franchise history.
Kopitar got his first multi-goal game since his hat trick against the Rangers last month, but the tying goal survived a coach’s challenge from Alain Vigneault, who thought the Kings interfered with Henrik Lundqvist.
New York’s star goalie was furious.
“I’m so frustrated right now, I don’t even know where to begin,” Lundqvist said. “I think we’ve just got to play by the rules. The rule is you can’t have a guy in the crease. I can’t come out to play the shot. As a goalie, when you try to make a save and you have a forward motion and he doesn’t make any effort to get out. I can’t believe the ref, after watching it, didn’t get it right. That means that you can pretty much put a guy in the crease and as long as the goalie doesn’t get run over, it’s a good goal.”
Kyle Clifford scored in the third and Jonathan Quick stopped 23 shots for Los Angeles, which returned from impressive road victories over Chicago and Dallas with a gutsy late effort.
“We just kept our foot on the gas pedal,” said Brown, who has his first three-game goal streak in three years. “We had a lot of good looks and a lot of scrums around the net, and finally found a way to get them in. They were in a back-to-back, so we put a lot of pressure on them and wore them down throughout the game.”
J.T. Miller had a goal and an assist for the Rangers, who haven’t won back-to-back games in March. Dan Boyle and Kevin Hayes also scored for the Rangers, and Lundqvist made 33 saves in his fourth consecutive loss in a winless March.
After Hayes put New York up 3-1 early in the third, Clifford got his second goal in 45 games just two minutes later.
Tyler Toffoli and Kopitar were both dangerously close to Lundqvist on the tying goal, but officials declined to reverse the call on the ice.
“I agree with my goaltender,” Vigneault said. “At the end of the day, though, it doesn’t really matter what he thinks or what I think. If we ask about it, they’re going to have a great explanation as to why it was a goal, and we’ve just got to deal with it and move on.”
NOTES: The Kings haven’t lost in regulation to any team except Anaheim since Feb. 16. … New York F Oscar Lindberg was a healthy scratch for the second straight game. … Boyle hadn’t scored a goal in 13 games since Feb. 17. … The Rangers conclude their road trip Saturday at the Shark Tank. … Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and actress Olivia Munn attended the game.
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