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Kings fall behind early as road woes continue in loss to Rangers

Mika Zibanejad briefly left Sunday’s game with an injury and the New York Rangers’ roster problems became even more problematic.

However, Zibanejad later returned and scored a goal to help the Rangers end a four game skid with a won 5-2 above the kings.

The team’s No. 1 center left late in the second period after blocking Drew Doughty’s shot on a power play. Zibanejad returned for the start of the third period.

Vincent Trocheck had two goals and an assist, Artemi Panarin had a goal and an assist, Alexis Lafreniere also scored and Adam Fox had two assists for New York. Igor Shesterkin made 26 saves.

“It was certainly a relief that he came back in the third inning,” Trocheck said of Zibanejad.

“It’s a big one for us, just like we’ve been playing the last few games, a little slide there,” Trocheck said. “We made sure we could bring it back.”

Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller received a game penalty and was ejected after spitting at Doughty late in the first period, leaving the Rangers with just five defensemen for the rest of the game.

“The kid feels bad about it,” Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said of Miller. “He said it was an accident.”

“It’s a pity,” Doughty said. “Whether he intended it or not, I have no idea. It’s a pretty big loogie on my face, so I was pretty (miffed).”

Also, Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren was not in the lineup a day after he was injured on a hit by Capitals forward TJ Oshie in the first period of Saturday’s loss. He is listed as day to day.

Viktor Arvidsson scored a power play goal late in the second period, Matt Roy scored early in the third period, and Phillip Danault had two assists for the Kings.

Jonathan Quick stopped four of seven shots for the Kings before being pulled late in the second period on Trocheck’s second goal. He was replaced by Pheonix Copley, who had 12 saves. The Kings are 1-2-1 on their five-game journey so far.

“When you play the cream of the crop in this league, you can’t have bad nights,” said Kings coach Todd McLellan.

Shesterkin had a bounce-back game a day after being pulled after conceding five goals on 22 shots in a 6-3 loss at Washington.

“The game they played yesterday set them up for the game they played tonight,” said McLellan.

The Rangers made it 3-0 early in the second period with two goals from Trocheck just 1:35 apart. Trocheck’s shot was deflected off Roy’s stick at 2:02 and his wrist at 3:37 beat Quick for his 19th goal of the season.

The Kings made it 3-2 early in the third period after Roy’s ninth goal at 1:27. But Panarin answered for the Rangers just 44 seconds later for his 19th. Zibanejad added his 31st power play at 5:26 to put the Rangers in control.

The Kings got on the board on Arvidsson’s 18th goal with 1:48 left in the second as he knocked the puck out of the air and past Shesterkin.

The Rangers opened the scoring in the first period when they took advantage of a turnover in the Kings’ zone. Filip Chytil got the loose puck to Lafreniere on the left side of the net. He sent a pass to Kaapo Kakko, who returned a pass and ricocheted Lafreniere’s shot off Quick for his 11th of the season 14 minutes into the game.

“We kept it simple. It was a good team effort from everyone.” Rangers defender Jacob Trouba said.

The Kings entered an exciting race for first place in the Pacific Division on Sunday. The Kings lead Vegas behind the division by two points and lead Edmonton in third place by two points.

Next for the kings: Tuesday night in Winnipeg to wrap up a five-game journey.