LOS ANGELES (AP)Gabe Vilardi and Anze Kopitar scored in the third period and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Montreal Canadiens 3-2 on Thursday night.
Alex Iafallo also scored and Pheonix Copley made 19 saves to help the Kings win their fourth straight home game.
“You want to build that confidence at home,” Kings defenseman Sean Walker said. “We’re home basically all of March, so that’s going to be key for us. A lot of games we’re gonna have to win down the stretch here.”
Josh Anderson had a power-play goal for Montreal. Denis Gurianov also scored and Jake Allen made 30 saves.
Goals from Vilardi and Kopitar 1:03 apart in the third proved to be the difference in the Kings’ first game since trading Jonathan Quick, the most accomplished goalie in franchise history.
Vilardi put Los Angeles up 2-1 at 7:27 of the third, shooting into the top netting with Allen down on one knee. Kopitar made it 3-1 1:03 later on a wrist shot from the slot, continuing his hot streak after scoring four times at Winnipeg on Tuesday.
“It wasn’t pretty, but I was happy that our guys stuck with it and found a way to win,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said.
Although Gurianov cut it to 3-2 with 10:21 remaining, getting his first goal in two games since being acquired in a trade from Dallas, Montreal couldn’t come up with the tying goal and can now shift its focus to Friday’s trade deadline.
Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson is one player that could be moved after playing for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury on Jan. 26.
“When you’re one of the bottom teams, no one’s safe really,” he said. “It’s going to be a long day, but we’ll focus on the game tomorrow night and whatever happens happens.”
QUICK CHANGE Kopitar and D Drew Doughty, the two remaining players from the 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup wins that Quick backstopped, addressed the unceremonious exit of their friend for the first time earlier Thursday.
“Never wanted to see Quickie go,” Doughty said. “Expected to play with him the rest of my career. I don’t love that he’s gone at all, but it’s hockey. It’s business. Sometimes things happen that you’re not going to like.”
Coincidentally, Kopitar and Doughty spoke to reporters shortly before the announcement that Quick had been dealt from Columbus to Vegas, a Pacific Division foe and potential playoff opponent.
COME ON IN Defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov made his Kings debut after being acquired along with goalie Joonas Korpisalo from Columbus on Wednesday in exchange for Quick and draft picks.
Although his interference penalty led to the Canadiens’ successful power play, Gavrikov was mostly solid after being held out of the lineup by the Blue Jackets since Feb. 11 for trade-related reasons. McLellan was especially pleased with the physical dimension he can provide.
“He’s a powerful man,” McLellan said. ”He’s a bull. When he leans on you, he’s heavy, he’s hard. You’ve got to use a lot of energy up and expend a lot of energy in a real short period just to get away from him.”
Vilardi reached the 20-goal mark for the first time in the NHL, an important milestone for the 2017 first-round draft pick who looked as if his career trajectory would be stalled by a lingering back injury. “He’s had the skill level to do it,” McLellan said. “We thought if we could get a healthy year out of him, we believed he could score.”
NOTES: Korpisalo could make his Kings debut against the Blues on Saturday. … Canadiens D Justin Barron sustained an upper-body injury in the first period and did not return.
Canadiens: At Anaheim on Friday night.
Kings: Host St. Louis on Saturday night. — AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/nhl and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports(backslash)