LAS VEGAS (AP)Kevin Fiala was named an All-Star two days earlier, but he had been in a dry spell when it came to scoring goals.
That ended Saturday night – and in spectacular fashion.
Fiala scored three goals to help the Los Angeles Kings beat the Vegas Golden Knights 5-1 Saturday night and edge closer to their Pacific Division rivals.
Second-place Los Angeles has 52 points, just four behind the Knights, who have a game in hand. The Kings have won two of the three meetings, with one game between the teams left April 6 in L.A.
”These games are very important,” Fiala said. ”We want to keep climbing. They’re No. 1 right now, so that’s a huge game for us.”
Los Angeles also ended the Knights’ four-game home winning streak and three-game overall win streak.
”It should be a rival,” Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said. ”It was probably the most disappointing game of the year for us when I look at our competitiveness from top to bottom.”
Fiala had his first multigoal game this season and second career hat trick. His other was April 7, 2021, against Colorado.
Until Saturday, Fiala had gone seven games without a goal and had just one goal in 14 games.
”Kevin was snake bit for a while,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. ”He’s off that now. Hopefully, things will start going in for him a little more regularly.”
Matt Roy and Viktor Arvidsson also scored for Los Angeles, and Gabriel Vilardi had three assists. Arvidsson has seven points (two goals, five assists) in his past six games.
Pheonix Copley made 19 saves for his eighth victory in nine games, but his one loss during that streak was a 5-2 defeat Thursday to the Boston Bruins.
”That was one of those games that we battled hard and, unfortunately, we didn’t win,” Copley said of the loss to the Bruins. ”So to not let that get to us and to come out tonight and get a big win, that’s huge for us, and it definitely shows maturity.”
Copley came within 2:15 of his second career shutout before Jonathan Marchessault’s slap shot finally put the Knights on the scoreboard.
Fiala had an empty-netter with 1:27 remaining to complete his hat trick and give him 13 goals on the season.
Los Angeles took control in the second period, scoring twice and holding Vegas to four shots on goal. Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy benched goalie Logan Thompson after that period and inserted Adin Hill.
Two key players returned to the Golden Knights after being out. Marchessault missed the previous six games because of a lower-body injury, and defenseman Alec Martinez returned after a four-absence after blocking a shot Dec. 27 against Los Angeles.
Marchessault is third on the team with 15 goals, and Martinez is the NHL leader with 133 blocked shots.
CAPTAIN STRIKES AGAIN
Los Angeles captain Anze Kopitar reached 500 career points on the road with an assist in the second period, the sixth active player to reach that mark. He also is one point from 1,100 points overall. Kopitar has been especially effective against the Knights, with 31 points in 28 career games against them, the most of any Vegas opponent. Kopitar also has points in three consecutive games (one assist, two goals).
Kings: Host Edmonton on Monday night.
Golden Knights: Host Florida on Thursday night.
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