LA Kings: Three takeaways against Avs as Kupari notches first goal

LA Kings (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)
LA Kings (Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports) /

The LA Kings were swept by the Colorado Avalanche in a two-game home series, but Rasmus Kupari got to celebrate his first NHL goal.

Earlier this week, Anze Kopitar celebrated his 1,000th career NHL point. On Saturday night at Staples Center as the LA Kings wrapped up a two-game set with the Colorado Avalanche, a young King celebrated a milestone of his own.

Unfortunately it wasn’t enough for LA, which dropped a second straight 3-2 decision to Colorado in its penultimate home game of the season. Here are three takeaways from Saturday’s loss.

1. Kupari scores his first

Quinton Byfield was held out of the lineup on Saturday for the first time since making his NHL debut. It was likely more of a business decision than a hockey one as the Kings weigh whether they’re ok with burning a year off his entry-level contract or not.

While the decision was disappointing for Kings fans, as Byfield has been one of the main reasons to tune in at this point as the team wraps up a season that will see them miss the playoffs for the third straight year, it wasn’t terribly surprising.

Instead, Kings fans got see Rasmus Kupari in his first action with the team since March 8. And in his fourth career game, the 21-year-old scored his first NHL goal and point.

He’s got a long way to go to catch Kopitar, but Saturday was a night that Kupari will never forget.

2. Kings keep Avs in check

The bad news is that the Kings are now 1-5-0 against the Avalanche this season and have regularly been heavily outshot, though Colorado does that to everyone. The good news is that the Kings have actually been able to keep this explosive Avalanche from lighting up the scoreboard against them.

LA has allowed just 17 goals in six games against Colorado this season. The Avs lead the league with an average of 3.47 goals for per game, but are averaging only 2.83 against the Kings. Only once have they scored more than three goals against the Kings, and the fourth goal in that game was an empty-netter. LA’s lack of success against Colorado this year can be blamed on the offense, which has scored just 11 goals in six games and only once scored three times.

If this seems like a small victory, it is. But the Avs are one of the very best teams in the NHL, and the Kings are, well, not that. Take their word for it, not mine.

It’s not surprising that the Kings aren’t having a lot of success against the Avalanche in terms of wins and losses, but they’ve done better than most teams have at holding Colorado’s offense down.

3. Walker stays hot

The Kings have spent most of the season looking to get some more offensive production from their blue line, and Sean Walker is finally providing some.

Walker was in on both Kings goals on Saturday, scoring the first and assisting on the second. He’s racked up six points in his last three games and now has 17 points (4-13-17) on the season, ranking a distant second to Drew Doughty in scoring among LA defensemen.

Looking to add some more offense from the back end is probably going to be high on the priority list for Rob Blake this offseason. He’ll have to decide whether this offensive surge from Walker was better late than never, or too little, too late.

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If not for postponements due to COVID-19, Saturday’s game would have been the season finale for the Kings. Instead, they’ll wrap up their home schedule against the St. Louis Blues on Monday before heading to Colorado to close things out with two more games against the Avalanche. If nothing else, the Kings may get a say in how the race for the top seed in the West plays out.