Kings' Kopitar will have ankle surgery
LOS ANGELES (AP)
An MRI exam on Monday confirmed Los Angeles' leading scorer needs corrective surgery that will keep him out indefinitely.
Just three weeks before the postseason, the Kings have lost their top two scorers to significant injuries in a six-day span. Right wing Justin Williams dislocated his right shoulder early last week.
Kopitar injured his ankle when he fell awkwardly during the Kings' victory over Colorado last Saturday while tangled up with Avalanche defenseman Ryan O'Byrne. Coach Terry Murray initially said his Slovenian All-Star broke his ankle and would be out for at least six weeks, but the Kings eventually determined the injury was a high ankle sprain.
Kopitar is the NHL's 10th-leading scorer with 25 goals and 43 assists in 75 games. His franchise-record streak of 330 consecutive games played will end Tuesday when the Kings visit Edmonton.
''There's quite a hole that's going to be there now, with him out of the lineup for this length of time,'' Murray said. ''But I've been through these kinds of things before, with top guys being out because of injuries. It's an opportunity. Other guys step up. The character of the team needs to step up.''
Williams, the Kings' second-leading scorer with 57 points, is out until the playoffs and possibly longer after getting hurt in a collision with Calgary's Robyn Regehr. The oft-injured Williams, who signed a four-year contract extension earlier in the month, must rest the injury for at least two more weeks before attempting to play in a harness.
Los Angeles is in a fifth-place tie with Nashville in the Western Conference standings. The teams have 92 points apiece, but the Kings have two more victories and a game in hand, putting them in good position to earn their second straight playoff berth after an eight-year postseason absence.
Kopitar broke Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne's club record for consecutive games earlier this month.