NHL News

Last-place Kings bench struggling Kovalchuk

LOS ANGELES — Left winger Ilya Kovalchuk was a healthy scratch for the Los Angeles Kings against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night, and general manager Rob Blake refused to say how long the veteran will be out of the lineup.

Sportsnet Canada reported the team has informed Kovalchuk that he is being benched for an extended period. The 36-year-old Russian had two goals and four assists in Los Angeles’ first four games, but has only one goal and two assists in the past 13.

The Kings entered Tuesday’s game with a league-low 11 points and have only three points in their last eight (1-6-1). Blake said he met with Kovalchuk before the game but that the decision to bench him was made by coach Todd McLellan.

“We’re in last place, right? We changed a lot of lineups,” Blake said. “We’re trying to find combinations that work, try to score some goals.”

Kovalchuk is in his second season with the Kings after leaving the New Jersey Devils, and the NHL overall, in 2013 to play in the KHL. He had 16 goals in 64 games with Los Angeles last season, in his NHL return.

A three-time All-Star, Kovalchuk scored 37 goals in 2012, helping the Devils to the Stanley Cup Final.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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