Los Angeles Kings Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty Help Pacific Win

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TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 28: {L-R} Teammates Anze Kopitar #11 and Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrate after a goal in the second half during the 2018 Honda NHL All-Star Game between the Central Division and the Pacific Divison at Amalie Arena on January 28, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings embarked on the trip to Tampa, Fla. with one fewer teammate than they originally expected. Jonathan Quick opted to skip the All-Star festivities due to a lingering injury, and he’ll have to serve a one-game suspension when regular season play resumes.

With Quick absent, it was up to Kopitar and Doughty to show the Tampa Bay crowd what Kings hockey was all about.

Los Angeles Kings Leave Their Mark on NHL All-Star Weekend

Saturday Struggles

During the Skills Competition on Saturday night, the spectators witnessed more gaffes than triumphs from the two Kings stars. Neither player was able to effectively showcase their talents relative to their peers during the various competitions.

Doughty participated first in the Passing Challenge, which made its debut over the weekend. It consisted of three separate sections.

The first section was target passing, where players had to hit targets that lit up in random order, some of which were elevated off the ice.

The second section was the give-and-go area, where players would complete four passes in succession that deflected back to their stick.

The third area featured an obstacle that players would have to pass the puck over and four separate mini nets the puck would have to be guided into before passing into the game net.

Doughty got stuck in the early section, particularly on the inner left elevated target. He finished with the worst time in the competition. He completed the first section just two seconds under the total event time of the eventual winner Alex Pietrangelo.

Doughty didn’t have much luck in the Save Streak competition, either. This event also made its debut this year where goaltenders would face breakaway attempts and compete for the most consecutive shots turned aside.

The Pacific Division skaters faced Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets. Doughty was denied, but Kopitar was able to beat Hellebuyck five-hole.

The Kopitar goal was probably the highlight for the Kings throughout that entire skills competition. Kopitar came in last during Accuracy Shooting, which was made more difficult this year compared to previous years.

Not only were players required to hit five separate targets at the net, but had to do so in a specific order based on which target was lighting up. The lit target would switch every three seconds until all were hit.

It took Kopitar about 50.844 seconds to hit all of the targets, putting him in eighth place out of eight competitors. The Kings would have to wait until the main event on Sunday to redeem themselves.

Sunday Assertion

In the first three-on-three match of the All-Star tournament, the Pacific Division defeated the Central Division 5-2. The opening game started off as a low-scoring affair and it wasn’t until under six minutes left in the last 10-minute period that Doughty tied the game at 1-1 on a breakaway.

The Pacific had a slight lead in the final few minutes before padding their stats with a couple empty net goals to secure their advancement to the finals. It was in the final game against the Atlantic Division that the two Kings representatives really asserted themselves.

Less than a minute into the final game, the Pacific got their first goal when Rickard Rakell of the Anaheim Ducks buried a rebound off a Kopitar shot. Doughty was credited with the other assist.

Later in the first 10-minute period, Doughty one-timed a pass in the slot from Kopitar and lit the lamp to extend the Pacific lead to 3-1.

The final score was 5-2 in favor of Pacific, with Brock Boeser of the Vancouver Canucks being named MVP of the All-Star Game.

Doughty had a legitimate case for the MVP title, though. His two goals and one assist in the two games were identical to what Boeser produced. Rakell also had two goals and one assist.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid led the Pacific in points throughout the tournament with four, all of which were assists that came in the first game. It’s understandable for the league to not give the MVP to McDavid because he failed to get on the scoreboard during the paramount final game.

The numerous plausible MVP options speak to the strong collective performance of the Pacific team. The 11 Pacific players will split a one million dollar pot for winning the championship.

Saturday was rough for Kopitar and Doughty, but they played a big role in helping the Pacific Division claim victory.

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