With 7:56 remaining in the third period, Mike Richards moved over the blue line and made a drop pass to Los Angeles Kings star Center Anze Kopitar. Kopitar carried the puck around Dallas Stars defensemen Alex Goligoski, behind the net, and attempted a wrap around. He never got to the front of the net. Instead the 6’3″ Center was flattened by the Stars Brenden Morrow, and went awkwardly head first into the boards. From section 114 is where my heart sank. He was laying face first on the ice and not moving, it was shades of Kopitar’s season ending ankle injury last season. 18,118 fans were shocked at that moment, some in anger, others fearful silence. There was not a single fan in their seat at that moment.
Immediately after the hit, Kings Center Mike Richards engaged with Brendan Morrow in fisticuffs. These chain of events seemed like an eternity, the crowd was not focused on the fight as much as it was focused on the well being of Anze. With the aid of a Kings trainer, the man dubbed “Iron Man” by Kings fans and the media rose to his feet. He was bloodied but not broken, and appeared like he was going to be OK. It was a scary moment for not only the fans, but the players.
You never like to see a player like that. Even thought it was a shoulder-to-shoulder hit, those are dangerous plays. It’s good to see that he’s healthy and doing well. Like I said, it’s just one of those in-the-moment things. If you’re going to get penalized for sticking up for your teammates, that’s a tough message to send around the league. -Mike Richards
Anze would not return to a game the Kings would lose 5-4 in the shootout, held out of action due to a mandatory precautionary concussion test.
This morning he gave an update to Kings beat writer Rich Hammond:
Feeling good. Nothing special to say, really. It was just precautionary reasons last night. It could have been worse, for sure. Right now, it’s something I have to put behind me here and just play hockey again.
I am really glad that Kopitar is going to be OK. The Kings can not afford to lose their highest scoring forward, the team is 29th in goals for. Replacing Kopitar just is not possible, he brings a world class two way game. When Kopitar went down last year, it was clear in the playoffs that the team missed his defensive play just as much as his offense.
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