After a long break, the Los Angeles Kings came out of the gates flying Saturday, beating the Pittsburg Penguins 6-0. The story heading into Saturday was the pregame ceremony honoring Dustin Brown with a jersey retirement and statue.
By the end of the night, the ceremony celebrating Brown felt like an afterthought.
With a four-goal performance from Adrian Kempe — which made him the first King in franchise history to score four straight in one game — and Copley's first shutout as a King, there was plenty to celebrate for fans.
Hear from Kempe and Todd McLellan postgame.
Kempe on how the ceremony before the game impacted the players:
Yeah, the emotions were definitely there. I think the energy, to be honest, I didn't feel amazing out there, but I think we kept it simple, played our game. It was just one of those games where everything comes to you and everything just goes in, so I'll take that.
On being the first King to score four in a game since Brown:
I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but to get four, it was pretty cool it was the first time since Brownie. Special night for him and for us as well so we're happy we got the win for him.
On following up his breakout season with another big year:
Yeah, I mean obviously expectations go up after last year. Not just for myself but as a team. I think we've been getting better and better as a team, myself as well. We have to keep this going for the last 28 games and then the fun things start after that and that's when you have to be good. So, it's important to keep my scoring up as much as I can. The team is playing well right now, so it's a good thing.
On improving defensively this season:
Yeah, I think going back to the last couple of years, its been getting better and better throughout the years, ever since Todd got here and since the team started to ramp it up. I think it's a good thing, getting a lot of minutes on the PK so I've got to take care of that and you have to play good defensively. I learn next to Kopi(tar) sitting next to him and playing with him. I've learned a lot from him, it's easy to take notes from him.
McLellan on the lack of rust after the long break:
I think that, after watching the Dustin Brown ceremony and having the Stanley Cup come out, that puts a little. If you didn't have a spark to play, that puts a little more into the game. The guys played well, they were fresh and executed well. Did some of the things we didn't do in Pittsburg, got drilled 6-1 there and we had to fix a lot of things to play a real good team.
On Kempe potentially elevating his game further this season:
If I say no, that's probably going to be looked at as giving him a shot. But I think he does these things quite consistently. There are nights where it doesn't go in for him, right now it is going in for him. But he plays physical, he penalty kills, he's blocking shots, he's skating, he's responsible defensively he's leading. You can hear him on the bench, he's saying the right things. So, all of that's happening when he's not scoring. I don't want to say no because it doesn't look like I appreciate what he's doing, but he's done it.
On the importance of rewarding Copley with a strong third period to secure the shutout:
Yeah, we talked about that between the second and third. We've done a lot of good things improving our game, but one of the things we wanted to do is play with the lead. And I think some references were made at our press meetings about closing games out, we hadn't done a real good job of that on the backend of that road trip. Different circumstances, tonight they (Pittsburg) played the second night of a back-to-back, we were fresh. We did the right things.