LOS ANGELES (AP) Gabriel Vilardi scored a career-high four points with a goal and three assists in his impressive return to Los Angeles, leading the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-2 victory over the Kings on Wednesday night.

Vilardi scored his second goal of the season early in the third period to complete the biggest offensive night of his five-year career in his first game against the Kings, who drafted him with the 11th overall pick in 2017. Los Angeles sent him to the Jets last summer along with Alex Iafallo and Rasmus Kupari in a trade for Pierre-Luc Dubois.

Vilardi didn’t know how to find the visitors’ dressing room in the Kings’ arena, and he acknowledged extra motivation for his return.

“Obviously, you saw it out there,” Vilardi said. “I was once here, and now I’m gone. It’s the same for everyone, everyone who was drafted here. I loved my time here, playing here. It was amazing. But at the end of the day, they didn’t want me, so this doesn’t end anything.”

If the trade wasn't enough motivation, Vilardi injured his right knee when LA's Blake Lizotte tripped him during the Kings' 5-1 win in Winnipeg two months ago, sidelining him until Nov. 30.

“How couldn’t you get fired up for this one?” said linemate Mark Scheifele, who had two goals and an assist. “Obviously him getting hurt in the last one was motivation, too, and he was flying and making plays.”

Vilardi was sharply critical of Lizotte after the injury, but he said they didn't exchange words on the ice this time.

“I thought it was a dumb play by him, and I was out for almost two months because of it," Vilardi said. "That’s my opinion on it, and not everyone has to agree with it. I have a right to my opinion as well.”

Nikolaj Ehlers scored twice in Winnipeg's three-goal second period and added an assist for the Jets, who rallied from an early two-goal deficit to finish their four-game West Coast road trip with three victories. Winnipeg has won five of six overall despite losing leading scorer Kyle Connor, who went on injured reserve earlier Wednesday after hurting his knee in Anaheim last Sunday.

“We’re a family, and it’s a very tight group,” Winnipeg coach Rick Bowness said. “We’ve talked a lot about that. So this game meant a lot to a lot of people, and we got some tremendous efforts.”

Scheifele got an empty-net goal and Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves for Winnipeg. Vilardi had the primary assist on each of the Jets' three second-period goals.

Rookie Alex Laferriere scored an extraordinary goal from behind the extended goal line for the Kings, who have lost three straight for the first time this season. Los Angeles failed to earn a point for only the fourth time in 21 games.

“It’s been a while since we had a rough patch," Kings coach Todd McLellan said. "You could look back to the beginning of the year where we played like this and gave up five goals a night or whatever it was, and we had to figure out ways to fix it. We’re capable of doing that, and we expect the group to respond to it.”

Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and Cam Talbot stopped 24 shots.

“They played hard, they had a good forecheck, but ultimately we were sloppy," forward Matt Roy said.

Dubois had an assist in his second game against the Jets since the trade. Dubois got a goal in his return to Winnipeg on Oct. 17 for Los Angeles’ 5-1 victory.

Laferriere scored his third goal of the season from a nearly impossible angle. The puck was several inches behind the red line near the corner when the 22-year-old former Harvard forward took his shot, but it rose at the perfect trajectory to get over Hellebuyck's shoulder, behind his neck and into the net.

Ehlers got Winnipeg on the board early in the second, taking a drop pass from Vilardi and scoring his eighth goal. The Danish forward tied it seven minutes later.

Scheifele put the Jets ahead when he collected a rebound behind the net and wrapped it around for his 10th goal.


Jets: Host Colorado on Saturday.

Kings: At Seattle on Saturday.


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