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Kings 3, Devils 1

Los Angeles’ chances of defending its Stanley Cup title might depend on their current five-game road trip.

The opener against the New Jersey Devils got them off to a good start.

Anze Kopitar had a goal and two assists, and the Kings used their size and strength to beat the Devils n Monday night to snap a two-game losing streak.

“Every time you go on a long road trip, the first game is obviously very important,” Kopitar said. “It sets the tone. No disrespect to them, but they’re the only (team on the trip) not in a playoff position.

“This was supposed to be the easy game, but that was not the case. We wanted to make sure we were sharp right off the get-go.”

The Kings, who are on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture heading into the final weeks of the season, dominated early. They outshot New Jersey 16-3 and took a 2-0 lead on goals by Andrej Sekera and Tyler Toffoli .

“We talked about needing to come out hard,” said Marian Gaborik, who like Kopitar assisted on the first-period goals. “It was the start of a road trip, a lot of travel. It’s a time change.

“We had to use our speed, use our forecheck. It was a big 20 minutes at the start. Second period, we slipped a little bit but then we came back.”

Jonathan Quick made 19 saves for the Kings, who won for the second time in five games.

The trip continues Tuesday night against the New York Rangers and then on Thursday against the New York Islanders. Los Angeles will also face Minnesota and then close out the trip at Chicago.

Scott Gomez scored for the Devils, who lost their second straight game and are on the verge of being knocked out of the Eastern Conference playoff race with nine games left.

Cory Schneider made 30 saves for New Jersey, which is in danger of missing the playoffs for the third straight season.

The game also marked the return of veteran center Mike Richards to the Kings lineup after he spent 16 games with Manchester of the AHL. He didn’t register a point but set up a good chance by Trevor Lewis in the second period.

“At the start I was chasing it a bit,” Richards said. “After that, it was all right. I felt more comfortable as the game went on. You just want to go out there and help out and contribute.”

Kopitar was instrumental in ending the Kings’ skid. He earned the primary assist on the opening goal by Sekera and sealed the win early in the third period, putting the rebound of Jake Muzzin’s shot past Schneider for his 15th goal.

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It gave the Kings a 3-1 lead, and the Devils never seriously threatened until the closing moments when they pulled Schneider for an extra skater.

Blackhawks 3, Hurricanes 1

Andrew Shaw scored two goals, and Chicago held off Carolina.

Corey Crawford made 43 saves for the Blackhawks, who have earned a point in 18 of their past 21 games and are fourth in the Western Conference. Shaw scored in the first period and added an empty-net goal with 40 seconds left.

Patrick Sharp had a goal and assist, and Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville earned his 750th NHL victory. Chicago improved to 23-0 when leading after two periods.

Victor Rask cut Carolina’s deficit in half early in the second period, and Anton Khudobin made 22 saves for the Hurricanes, who outshot Chicago 44-25.

Senators 5, Blackhawks 2
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Mika Zibanejad scored twice, and Ottawa moved into an Eastern Conference playoff position with a victory over San Jose.

The Senators (37-24-11) earned their seventh straight win and jumped one point ahead of Boston for the second wild-card spot in the East with a game in hand. Ottawa is above the postseason cutoff for the first time since late November.

Alex Chiasson, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mike Hoffman, with an empty-net goal, also scored for Ottawa. Andrew Hammond, making his seventh straight start, stopped 29 shots and improved to 14-0-1 in his first 15 NHL starts.

Joe Pavelski and Chris Tierney scored for the Sharks. Antti Niemi made 32 saves.

The Senators scored four unanswered goals in the third period — two within a span of 1:12.

Wild 2, Maple Leafs 1

Devan Dubnyk added to his ironman streak, making his 32nd straight start, and Minnesota extended its string of road wins to nine, hanging on for a victory over slumping Toronto.

The loss was the sixth straight for the Maple Leafs (27-41-6), who came close several times to tying it late.

Charlie Coyle and Thomas Vanek scored for Minnesota (41-25-7), which is 23-6-2 since acquiring Dubnyk on Jan. 14.

Toronto defenseman Jake Gardiner scored with 6:24 remaining, tapping in the puck after Joffrey Lupul’s slap shot trickled through Dubnyk’s legs. Lupul had gone 17 games without a point.

Stars 4, Sabres 3

Cody Eakin scored at 16:46 of the third period, and Dallas rallied to beat Buffalo.

Stars captain Jamie Benn netted his team’s first two goals and earned his 200th NHL assist on the third by Patrick Eaves, who tied it 3-3 at 12:35 of the third.

On the winner, Eakin took a pass from John Klingberg in the left circle and beat goalie Anders Lindback, who began the season with Dallas. Lindback finished with 35 saves.

Buffalo captain Brian Gionta scored the Sabres’ first two goals. Matt Moulson also scored for Buffalo.

The Stars won for the sixth time in seven games.

The Sabres, last in the NHL with 47 points, are 1-8-2 in their past 11 games.

Flames 3, Avalanche 2

Lance Bouma and David Jones had a goal and an assist each to lead Calgary over Colorado.

Jiri Hudler also scored for the Flames, and Kari Ramo made 25 saves to earn his 15th win of the season.

Calgary held onto third place in the Pacific Division, ahead of the Los Angeles Kings, who won at New Jersey.

Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and an assist for the Avalanche, and Semyon Varlamov finished with 23 saves. Alex Tanguay also scored, and Ryan O’Reilly added two assists.

Jets 4, Oilers 1

Lee Stempniak scored the winning goal, and Winnipeg solidified its Western Conference playoff spot with a victory over Edmonton.

Drew Stafford, Tyler Myers and Michael Frolik also scored for the Jets, who have won five in a row.

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had the lone goal for the Oilers, who have lost nine of 11.

Winnipeg got on the board first, 7:32 in, when Stafford picked off Oscar Klefbom’s pass and raced into the Oilers zone. He beat Ben Scrivens with a wrist shot for his fourth goal and eighth point in six games.

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