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Kings' Anze Kopitar sits out practice but is said to be fine

This season isn't even 7 weeks old, yet Kings center Anze Kopitar has been like a hockey piñata, taking his hits and somehow managing to not miss any games.

Except when he wasn't practicing Friday, it raised some concern.

That, however, doesn't appear to be a dire situation. Kings Assistant General Manager Rob Blake said, via email, that Kopitar was "fine." The Kings center appeared to take a shot in the foot — known in hockey terms as a lower-body injury — in the final seconds of their 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Thursday.

Kopitar's absence at Friday's practice was described as "a maintenance day," by Kings associate head coach John Stevens, who added that Kopitar was fine. Stevens handled the post-practice media session because Kings Coach Darryl Sutter had a previously scheduled appointment, the team said.

"He is a pretty resilient guy," Stevens said of Kopitar. "So I don't have any further update than that."

Just last week, Kopitar took a shot to the head — via the Blues' Ryan Reaves — and sat out two periods at St. Louis. But Kopitar was in the lineup for the next game, against Columbus.

It's no coincidence that when Kopitar missed three games last season, all on the road in late October, the Kings did not win any of the three, coming away with one point in an overtime loss at Philadelphia.

The Kings' leading goal scorer, Jeff Carter, and top defenseman, Drew Doughty, both played in all 82 games last season, as did captain Dustin Brown.

"You look at Drew and Brownie and Quicker [goalie Jonathan Quick], Kopi, guys like that, jeez, it seems like they play all the time," Stevens said. "They're tough guys."

With his focus to detail on the defensive end, Stevens was asked whether the Kings have turned the corner in that department.

"We think we can play a lot better defensively," he said. "I think every game, we're looking at parts of our game we want to get better. Some of our defensive game lately has just been our play with the puck. You go back to the game before [Arizona], we didn't manage the puck very well. I don't think we were tough enough below the goal line and battle areas."

The Kings' penalty-killers were put to the test against the Islanders. In the third period, the Islanders had 45 seconds of five-on-three advantage, and overall, went 0 for 3 on the power play

"It's just a mind-set," Kings defenseman Alec Martinez said. "Oftentimes, special teams are the difference in a hockey game. You look at last night. You've got to bear down, especially on those PKs [penalty kills]. We did a good job of using that as momentum. You talk about a power play, all the time, building momentum but a PK can do the same thing."

Defenseman Christian Ehrhoff, who was a healthy scratch against Florida and Arizona, was back in the lineup against the Islanders. His ice time was 15-plus minutes, including 1:33 of power-play time and 1:22 short-handed.

Stevens thought Ehrhoff responded well to the challenge.

"I thought he was good," Stevens said. "He's well aware of the kind of game that we need him to play. He's a really skilled guy who skates well and can move pucks for us. We want him to be a good defender and make good plays with the puck. I thought he did that."



When: Saturday, 7 p.m.

On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 790.

Etc.: Stevens went out of his way to praise the Oilers' 20-year-old Leon Draisaitl, who already has 11 points in seven games. For the sake of comparison, the center had nine points in 37 games last season and was a minus-17.

Twitter: @reallisa

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