LOS ANGELES — The present and the future were on display at Crypto.com Arena on Sunday. Quinton Byfield arrived, while Anze Kopitar broke another record as the Los Angeles Kings won 4-1 over the Colorado Avalanche.
Byfield has broken out in 2023-24. The 21-year-old is finally contributing to the team with points despite flashes of talent in previous seasons. He showed such skill with a two-goal effort versus the Avalanche.
Byfield surpassed his career-high season goal total of five goals, which he set in 40 games during the 2021-22 season. In 2023-24, it only took him 21 games to surpass it.
While the Avalanche got on the board first, scoring in the first period, the Kings tied the game 9:03 minutes into the second period when Byfield tipped Mikey Anderson’s shot into the goal.
Then, Byfield helped the Kings take the lead, scoring a chance from an open area in the slot in the second period. Kopitar added an assist on the goal, becoming the Kings’ franchise leader in assists.
In some ways, the 36-year-old Kopitar passed the torch to Byfield while breaking a record as Byfield put on a show. Nonetheless, Kopitar is still playing at a high level and has 20 points in 2023-24.
“If he’s [Kopitar’s] handing it off to Q [Byfield] and to some other young players, that’s a real good thing. They need to grasp it and pay it back and in bunches later on,” said head coach Todd McLellan.
Quickly after Byfield’s second goal, the Kings put the game away 14:22 into the third period; Trevor Moore spun away from a defender towards the goal and scored.
“I have always talked about his [Moore’s] escape skills, and it was relevant… He’s very sneaky. He’s very quick. He’s very relaxed when he’s doing that. He’s got goalscoring hands right now, and that’s a real good thing for him,” McLellan said.
Drew Doughty scored the Kings’ fourth goal by launching the puck the entire length of the ice into an empty net.
Adrian Kempe also added two points to his totals but through two assists, not goals like Byfield. The win helped the Kings get back to their winning ways after losing to the Washington Capitals on Wednesday, which ended a five-game winning streak.
Also helping the Kings to victory was their league-leading penalty kill. The Kings held the Avalanche scoreless on two power plays. Goaltender Cam Talbot also continued his early-season success. He started in goal for the 15th time in 2023-24 and made 20 saves against the Avalanche. He improved to 11-4-1 on the season, too.
The Kings increased their points total to 31 but stayed third in the Pacific Division. They are two points behind the Vancouver Canucks, but the Canucks have played four more games than them.
Next, the Kings face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday, starting a three-game road trip. There, they will look to continue their early season success, adding to their points total.