LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles left winger Dwight King scored a hat trick as the Kings staved off a furious Phoenix Coyotes comeback to win 7-4 at Staples Center Thursday night.
Center Anze Kopitar gave the Kings a quick lead when he scored his first goal of the season on the power play just 42 seconds into the game. Kopitar pounced on a loose puck in the left faceoff circle and beat Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith with a wrist shot.
King doubled the Los Angeles lead at 4:17 of the first period with his second goal of the season, beating Coyotes goaltender Mike Smith to the left side from 25 feet.
King's second of the goal night gave Los Angeles a four-goal margin at 17:56 of the first period on a between the legs tip-in when the Phoenix defense left him unchecked to the right of Smith.
The Los Angeles barrage ended Smith's night after 20 minutes as he was replaced by backup goaltender Thomas Griess after surrendering four goals on fifteen shots. It was the first time the Kings scored four goals in a period since March 5, 2013, against the St Louis Blues.
The Coyotes (6-3-2) halved the margin in the middle period on the strength of goals by Jeff Halpern and Martin Hanzal. Halpern's goal was his first in a Phoenix uniform. Hanzal's bad-angle goal trickled through the pads of Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and set the stage for Phoenix's four-goal comeback.
Phoenix closed to within one when defenseman Keith Yandle's shot was deflected by Hanzal for his second goal of the night on the power play at 1:51 of the third period. The Coyotes (6-3-2) made their comeback complete 59 seconds later when Shane Doan's harmless shot from the point eluded Quick to tie the game at 4 all with 17:10 remaining in the game.
Los Angeles regained the lead for good when Richards netted an unassisted short-handed goal at 4:19 of the final frame. He beat Griess with a backhand shot after a turnover by Phoenix defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the neutral zone.
King added an empty-net goal at 19:38 to complete his first career three-goal game.
Jordan Nolan and Matt Frattin also added goals for the Kings, who improved to 7-4-0.
NOTES: Los Angeles has not lost a man game to injury through 11 games. ... The Kings dry spell at the center position ended with Kopitar's opening goal. The combination of Kopitar, Richards, C Jarret Stoll and C Colin Fraser failed to register a goal through the team's first 10 games. ... King recorded the first hat trick of his career. ... Coyotes RW Shane Doan returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday's game vs. Calgary with a lower-body injury. ... With a 6-3-2 record and 14 points through 11 games, Phoenix is off to its best start since the 2000-01 campaign when it began the season 7-1-2. ... Smith was pulled for the second time this season, the first time was Oct. 8 vs. the New York Islanders when he yielded five goals on 20 shots after 40 minutes.
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- Anze Kopitar
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