After their offense exploded for 5 goals against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday, the Kings (now 4-1-1) were unable to keep the offense rolling in the desert on Thursday, but they didn’t need to, as 2 goals were more than enough to defeat the Coyotes (now 2-3-1) when you’ve got Jonathan Quick in net, who continues his torrid start to the season with his second straight shutout as the Kings defeated the Phoenix Coyotes 2-0 on Thursday night in Glendale. It was Quick’s 100th career regular season victory, all as a King, becoming just the 3rd netminder to have 100 wins with the Kings, and as mentioned earlier, he got it done in style with his second straight and 16th career shutout, so a big congratulations to him is certainly in order.
Overall on the season, Quick is 4-0-1, with a league-leading .967 Sv%, a league-leading 2 shutouts, and a 0.96 GAA that is second in the league, trailing only Nikolai Khabibulin of the Edmonton Oilers who has a 0.95 GAA. Extremely early? Yes. But he’s still off to a great start to the season, as he did last year. Last year however, after Quick and the Kings got off to an awesome 12-3-0 start, Quick was very inconsistent throughout the rest of the season (although he still did have a great season overall). Obviously Quick’s not going to play this well all season, no one can, but can he play well more consistently throughout the entire season than he did last season? Because what the Kings care about most is how Quick plays in April and beyond, and he’s seemed to be a little bit burned out at that point in the last couple of years.
Even if he does play stronger and more consistent this year, he can’t be perfect all year, so the offense is going to have to pick him up more than they have been doing so far. Then again, of all the goaltenders that the Kings have faced this season, Mike Smith is the only one who’s GAA is over 2.00. When you play great goalies, you’re not always going to get many goals, so you need great goaltending in order to win, and early on, Quick has been providing that for the Kings. Hopefully the offense starts to pick it up sooner rather than later so Quick, and Bernier for that matter, don’t feel like they have to be perfect every night just to win.
The Kings have given up 10 goals in 6 games, which is really awesome. 16 goals for in 6 games isn’t bad, but it isn’t great either, and other than the St. Louis game the Kings have not scored more than 2 goals in a regulation game. With how good this team is at keeping the puck out of their net, if they can start putting it in the other team’s a lot, and they’re certainly capable of doing that when you look at the talent on this team, then they’re going to be almost impossible to beat when they’re on their game. I’m confident that the offense will pick it up. Richards and Stoll each only have one goal, Doughty and Penner don’t have any, the goals will start to come for these guys. And when they do, hopefully the guys that are producing now, Kopitar, Gagne, Williams, Brown, Johnson keep it up as well. Getting some more shots would help as well, as the Kings were held to 22 shots yesterday and have been held to single-digit shot totals in 7 of their last 8 periods.
Let’s recap how the game in Phoenix went down in Thursday:
1st period: The Coyotes outshot the Kings 11-8 in a scoreless 1st period, but the Kings had the best scoring chances of the frame. On a Phoenix power play, Mike Richards dove to hit the puck up to Trevor Lewis to spring him on a breakaway, but Keith Yandle got back in time to lift Lewis’ stick and clear the puck out of danger just in time. Later on, on a Kings power play, Mike Smith slid across the crease to rob Dustin Brown. Mike Richards would put a rebound goal in later on that same power play, but the clock had clearly expired on the 1st period before the puck went it. The Coyotes were 0-for-1 on the power play in the frame, and the Kings’ first power play came with 17 seconds remaining in the period, so they would have a power play for the first 1:43 of the 2nd period. Paul Bissonnette and Kevin Westgarth fought about midway through the period.
2nd period: The Kings capitalized on their abbreviated power play to start the 2nd that was interrupted by the intermission, as Anze Kopitar worked the puck down low from the half wall to Mike Richards who fed it in front to Dustin Brown who had his original shot stopped by Mike Smith, but then jammed it in just 56 seconds into the period for his 2nd goal of the season, and 2nd goal in as many games. Then at the 15:23 mark, Matt Greene fed the puck around the boards to Kevin Westgarth who took it out of the Kings’ end and into the Coyotes’, and fed it across the ice to a trailing Kyle Clifford who snapped it by Smith for his 1st goal of the year. The Kings were 1-for-3 on the power play in the period, while the Coyotes didn’t have one. The shots were 9-7 in favour of Los Angeles in the frame.
3rd period: Phoenix got a late power play and pulled their goalie to get a 6-on-4, but couldn’t even get one by Jonathan Quick, as the two Kings’ 2nd period goals were all the scoring in this one and stood up for a 2-0 LA victory. The Coyotes outshot the Kings 10-5 in the frame, and 28-22 on the night. The Coyotes were 0-for-2 on the power play in the period, and went an 0-for-3 on the night. The Kings didn’t have a power play in the 3rd, and overall went 1-for-3 on the night, with all power plays coming in the 2nd period.
So the Kings win their 3rd straight game, improve their record to 4-1-1, and now have a four-game point streak. On deck for the Kings are the Dallas Stars on Saturday, who are off to another surprisingly strong start to their season. Expect a game preview to come tomorrow before the puck drops at 7:30 PM PT/10:30 PM ET at Staples Center.