Many highs, and one low hit, colored the Kings' impressive victory Sunday night.
Anze Kopitar scored two goals to cement his status as the NHL's leading scorer, and the Kings remained in first place in the Pacific Division with a 6-2 victory over Columbus before an announced crowd of 15,820 at Staples Center.
Kopitar leads the league in goals (10) and points (21) and the Kings have now scored the most goals (44) in the NHL this season. San Jose has 42 and the New York Rangers have 41 (in one fewer game), as does Calgary (with two fewer games).
The Kings have won four consecutive games and avenged perhaps their ugliest loss of the season, a 4-1 defeat to the Blue Jackets last Saturday in Columbus. The Kings were coming off an impressive victory at Phoenix on Saturday night.
"The game in Columbus, we were not happy with how it went for us," Kings coach Terry Murray said, "so coming out early, starting with the way we finished the game last night, and getting the first goal, was important. The game was what you want, what you ask for."
Will there be reprecussions, though, from Sunday's game?
A major incident took place 11 minutes into the game, when Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi checked Columbus' Jason Chimera near the boards in the Kings' zone.
The hit was low, seemingly at Chimera's knees, and Chimera was upended before he landed face-first on the ice and sustained a significant cut to his face. Columbus' Derek Dorsett came off the bench to challenge Scuderi and received a game-misconduct penalty and Chimera got a 10-minute misconduct penalty.
Scuderi was not penalized on the play, but could be subject to supplmental discipline. The Blue Jackets certainly seemed to feel it would be deserved.
"It was low. It was a dirty hit," Chimera said. "I don't care what you call it. I've been hip-checked before, but it's a dirty hit. There's no room in the game for that kind of (stuff). When the guy takes your knees out, what are you supposed to do? It wasn't a hip check at all. It was a direct hit on the knees. They had no explanation, so I don't know what they (the referees) were thinking.
"I mean, I landed on my face on the ice and my neck was squished against the ice. I'm lucky I didn't come out with a concussion or something. It's a dirty play. There's no room in the game for that. There are too many guys that are carried out on stretchers because of dirty stuff. There's no room in the game for it. There's got to be a level of respect out there."
Scuderi hedged his bets a bit when asked if he thought the hit was clean.
"I don't really know where I got him," Scuderi said. "I'm assuming it was questionable, if so many of their guys were up in arms about it. I understand that they're just being good teammates and sticking up for their guy.
"At the same time, I've played 300 games in this league, and I don't have a reputation as a dirty player, but one hit can stir it up like that. I'm certainly not a dirty player."
The game got chippy at times, as the Blue Jackets got elbowing and roughing penalties in the second period and another roughing penalty in the third, but the Kings won the special-teams battle, with two power-play goals and one power-play goal against, and won every other facet of the game as well.
Alexander Frolov, continuing to show great improvement after his one-game benching last week, had two goals and one assist. Michal Handzus and Jarret Stoll added goals and Jonathan Quick had 25 saves to improve to 8-3.
"Sometimes two goals is not enough from the first line," Kopitar said, "and everybody else contributed right in and it was really nice to see. If you want to be a consistent team, you need that secondary scoring too, for sure, and it was a big part of this game for sure."
Kopitar, though, was the star again, and now has five goals and three assists in his last three games. After Handzus scored, 5:29 into the first period, Kopitar scored just 49 seconds later to give the Kings a huge 2-0 lead.
Dustin Brown's pass from the left boards found Handzus just inside the right circle. Handzus steadied the puck, then had his shot deflect off a Columbus defender and past goalie Steve Mason 5:29 into the first period.
The Kings extended their lead to 2-0 when Kopitar entered the Columbus zone, off a neutral-zone pass from Davis Drewiske, and fired a laser wrist shot from the high slot that beat Mason.
Columbus had to play the final nine minutes short two players after the Scuderi hit, but they had an outstanding scoring chance with 6:45 remaining in the first period, when Rick Nash got hooked by Jack Johnson on a breakaway.
A penalty shot was called. Nash started wide right and attempted a wrist shot, but Quick easily deflected the puck away to his right.
The Kings carried over their energy to the second period, and took a 3-0 lead 5:33 into the period. Scott Parse worked the puck out of the corner, and hit Stoll with a centering pass. Stoll's one-time shot from the slot beat Mason.
The Blue Jackets had little life in the second period until a quick play in the Kings' zone. Vermette cut to the front of the net and redirected Mike Commodore's pass from the right side past Quick with 5:55 remaining to make it 3-1.
Kopitar scored the back-breaking goal, a 5-on-3 goal, with 57 seconds remaining in the second period, to make it 4-1, and Frolov scored two goals in the final nine minutes of the third period after Columbus had closed to 4-2.
The Kings’ eight wins is tied with Colorado for second most in the NHL (one behind Pittsburgh)...The Kings’ 16 points is third most in the NHL (two behind Colorado and Pittsburgh)...The Kings have scored 44 goals this season, the most in the NHL...The Kings have scored 23 goals in their last four home games...Anze Kopitar (2g) extended his point streak to six games (6-5=11). He now leads the NHL in both goals (10) and points (21)...Dustin Brown (1a) extended his point streak to six games (4-5=9)...Scott Parse has two assists in his first two NHL games...Alexander Frolov (2-1=3) now has six points in the last three games (2-4=6)...The Kings have their second four-game win streak of the season...The last time the Kings started 8-4-0 was 2005-06 (before that – the Kings had 16 points in the first 12 games in 1999-00: 7-3-2-0)...Through 12 games last season the Kings were 4-6-2 (6-6-0 in 2007-08 and 3-7-2 in 2006-07)...Rick Nash failed on a penalty shot in the first period. The Kings have now stopped 35-of-47 all-time. For the Kings complete penalty shot history, click here.