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Anze Kopitar's broken ankle overshadows Los Angeles Kings' 4-1 win

March 26, 2011 |  3:31 pm

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The details of the Kings’ 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday will be a mere footnote after center Anze Kopitar broke his right ankle in the second period.

Kopitar, the team’s leading scorer and the 10th-ranked scorer in the NHL entering Saturday’s games, left the ice at 15:39 of the second period after twisting his right leg and falling awkwardly to the Staples Center ice.

Coach Terry Murray said Kopitar, who has 25 goals and 73 points, will be out a minimum of six weeks. That would take him into the first week of May. The regular season ends April 10.  Kopitar is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam on Monday to more closely determine the extent of the damage. The Kings lost their second-leading scorer, Justin Williams, to a dislocated shoulder Monday.

"He's our best player. We’ve got to find a way either way," team captain Dustin Brown said of Kopitar. "Injuries happen during the year. You don’t want to have your best player go down, but if that’s the case, we’ve got to shoulder the responsibility collectively and find a way because no other team is going to feel sorry for us.

"It’s an opportunity for someone else to step up. It’s going to be tough to match Kopi’s play both defensively and offensively, and we’ve got to find a way. The staple of our game is defense, and he’s a big part of that when he’s on the ice. Ultimately it’s a five-man, six-man game for us."

Kopitar and Colorado’s Ryan O’Byrne were battling for the puck on the boards when Kopitar twisted and fell. Play went up ice, but Kopitar was unable to rise to his feet and remained on the ice for several seconds before play was stopped. Trainer Chris Kingsley tended to Kopitar, who leaned on teammates Michal Handzus and Dustin Penner to get off the ice while keeping his right leg elevated.

The Kings were leading the Avalanche, 2-0, at the time of Kopitar’s injury and went on to a 4-1 victory, their third straight triumph.

Kopitar, who scored the Kings’ first goal on a deflection of a shot by Willie Mitchell, has 26 goals and 73 points in 75 games this season. Kopitar has played a club-record 330 consecutive games.

Colorado scored its only goal late in the first period, after Kings defenseman Drew Doughty fell behind his own net and the Avalanche controlled the puck. Milan Hejduk scored the goal, the only one of 21 shots to get past Jonathan Quick.

Ryan Smyth made it 3-1 early in the third period on a backhand wraparound attempt, and Trevor Lewis scored the final goal off a pass from Smyth.

The Avalanche are 3-20-2 in their last 25 games.

Muray said losing Kopitar creates "quite a hole," but said the team must pull together to compensate.

"I’ve been through these kinds of things before, with top guys being out with injuries, and it’s an opportunity," Murray said. "Other guys step up. The character of the team needs to step up. Everybody has to do the right things. Got to trust your structure and your system and give it the best opportunity you can now as a group to finish things off and play the right way."

Oh, and the Kings' first goal was taken away from Kopitar and awarded to Mitchell, with an assist going to Kopitar. Ouch.

Check back later for more at www.latimes.com/sports.

-- Helene Elliott

Photo: Kings center Anze Kopitar writhes in pain on the ice after breaking his right ankle Saturday. Credit: Danny Moloshok / Associated Press

Video: Kings Vision / Los Angeles Kings

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