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Kings' Ponikarovsky, Mitchell modest about impressive stat

January 10, 2011 |  6:33 pm

Left wing Alexei Ponikarovsky and defenseman Willie Mitchell returned from injuries in the Kings’ last game, against Columbus on Saturday, and the team’s win — ragged though it was — improved an interesting statistic regarding each player.

The Kings are 17-5-1 with Ponikarovsky in the lineup and 12-4-0 with Mitchell in their lineup, impressive numbers. But both insisted that’s only a coincidence.

“It’s not just because of me,” Ponikarovsky said before the Kings faced the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday at Staples Center. “For sure I always try to bring as much as I can to the game and do whatever it takes to win the game. Sometimes it’s just blocking shots, hits, penalty killing, because it’s a big part of winning the games.”

Mitchell called the record “flattering,” and said teammates had kidded him about it.

“One player or two players aren’t going to be the be-all, end-all. It’s a team,” he said. “Do Poni and I think we can be part of the solution to win? Of course you do. I wouldn’t be playing this game if I didn’t feel that way. But we win or lose as a team and I think no doubt it brings a little more depth to the team and it allows coaches more matchups and pairings. Hopefully it brings some stability.”

Mitchell, who missed 14 games in November and December because of an upper-body injury and, more recently, 11 games because of an injured left knee, said he appreciated being fit and enjoyed being paired with Jack Johnson.

“It felt really good. Playing the right side with Jack, I thought we played really well. We were out for a couple goals against but it was kind of a little bit of miscues by [Jonathan Quick] that he knows about,” Mitchell said.

“That happens. It’s great that we win a game when things like that happen because he’s played so well for us. He’s played extremely well for us. He stole games for us.

“I felt good. I missed it. I haven’t played a lot of games this year. I loved it. I just tried to soak it up and enjoy it because you miss the game when you don’t play. It was a lot of fun just getting out there with teammates and obviously to get back on track after losing a few in a row. Hopefully the wind can kind of get at our backs now and we can make a good push because this is a really good hockey team.”

Check back for more on the game.

--Helene Elliott