NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — Anze Kopitar had a goal and two assists, and the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils 3-1 on Monday night at the start of a five-game trip.
Andrej Sekera and Tyler Toffoli also scored for the Kings, who are on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture.
Marian Gaborik added two assists, and Jonathan Quick made 19 saves as the Kings won for only the second time in five games.
Scott Gomez scored for the Devils, who lost their second straight game and are on the verge of being knocked out of the Eastern Conference playoff race with nine games left.
Cory Schneider made 30 saves for New Jersey, which is in danger of missing the playoffs for the third straight season.
The game also marked the return of veteran center Mike Richards to the Kings lineup after he spent 16 games with Manchester of the AHL. He didn’t register a point but set up a good chance by Trevor Lewis in the second period.
Kopitar was instrumental in ending the Kings’ two-game skid. He earned the primary assist on the opening goal by Sekera and sealed the win early in the third period, putting the rebound of Jake Muzzin’s shot past Schneider for his 15th goal.
It gave the Kings a 3-1 lead, and the Devils never seriously threatened until the closing moments when they pulled Schneider for an extra skater.
Quick had kept the Kings in front minutes earlier, stopping recent call-up Reid Boucher with a glove save early in the period and then stoning Jordin Tootoo and Travis Zajac in close on a Devils power play.
The Kings took a 2-0 lead in a one-sided first period as Kopitar assisted on goals by Sekera and Toffoli.
Kopitar did the work on Sekera’s first goal in 19 games and his first since the defenseman came to the Kings in a trade with Carolina in February.
Kopitar skated from the Devils’ left circle out to the blue line, and left the puck for Sekera, who skated back to the circle and ripped a shot into the top of the net against a helpless Schneider.
Toffoli’s 21st goal came with the Kings on a 5-on-3 power play late in the period. Gaborik held the puck in the right circle and made a brilliant cross-ice pass that Toffoli snapped into an empty net before Schneider could come across the crease.
The Devils had only three shots in the opening period, but Gomez put their fourth into the net early in the second. It was his seventh of the season, and it was a bit lucky.
Defenseman Eric Gelinas’ shot from the left point deflected off Sekera in front of the net and went to Gomez in the right circle. He one-timed a shot into the net before Quick could react.
NOTES: Los Angeles will play all three New York area teams in a four-day span, visiting the Rangers on Tuesday and the Islanders on Thursday. … F Stefan Matteau, the 29th pick in the 2012 NHL draft, played for the Devils for the first time since March 16, 2013. … Gomez scored only six goals total in his previous three seasons with the Canadiens, Sharks and Panthers.
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