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The Kings held a three-month reunion Monday night at STAPLES Center. No name tags were required. Nobody had gone gray or bald or packed on a few extra pounds.
To be certain, though, these were the Kings, circa Oct. 2010, a group that looked to be on their way to something special. A bit of that magic came back Monday, as the Kings put forth a complete effort and beat the Boston Bruins 2-0 before a sellout crowd of 18,118.
Everything the Kings did in October, when they started 12-3-0, they did again Monday.
Jonathan Quick was nearly flawless in a 34-save shutout, his fifth of the season and the 13th of his career, but Quick didn't need to be brilliant because the Kings' defense played a smart, simple game in front of him and limited the Bruins' scoring chances.
Up front, the Kings did all the little things well. They played with confidence, made short, accurate passes, attacked with persistence and had a solid net presence.
The Kings, who had been stuck in a 2-10-0 skid this month, followed up a sometimes-solid, sometimes-shaky win at Phoenix on Saturday with one of their strongest overall efforts of the season, and won back-to-back games for the first time since Dec. 26-27. They also moved within three points of eighth place in the Western Conference.
``It's just like anything,'' Kings defenseman and assistant captain Matt Greene said. ``When you have success, you're going to be more confident. That game in Phoenix, as sloppy as it was at times, I think just getting that win puts a lot of guys at ease, allows guys to relax a little bit and gives us faith in the system, that it will work if we do it the right way. I think tonight was a clear example of that. If we're playing our game, we're a good team, and I think that's just confidence from that Phoenix game carrying over.''
Ryan Smyth broke Kings' power-play skid -- they had been 0-for-22 in their last seven games -- with a first-period power-play goal, and Andrei Loktionov gave the Kings a breathing-room goal early in the third period, and that was enough.
It's tough to overstate the Kings' effort on defense and in goal. The Bruins entered the game with a 6-0-3 record in their last nine road games, and Boston had totaled at least six goals in four of its last seven games. The Bruins certainly had their chances, with 34 shots on goal, but got few second-chance looks, and Quick was strong.
``They're a team that is known for getting a lot of pucks to the net, from all kinds of angles,'' Quick said of the Bruins. ``They'll throw it from the wall, just trying to get some junk in front of the net. I think the D handled it well. There were a few rebounds that they were able to get out of the way before someone got a stick on it. At the end of the day, it's two points, it's big and we want to continue to move forward here.''
After Wednesday's home game against San Jose, Quick will get a five-day rest.
Thomas, Marc-Andre Fleury, Jonas Hiller, Henrik Lundqvist, Carey Price and Cam Ward were named as All-Stars and will play in Raleigh, N.C., even though Quick arguably has had a better season than at least a couple of those players.
Sure about those picks, NHL?
Even when the Kings have been sliding down the standings of late, Quick very rarely has been the biggest factor in losses. The goal support in front of him, particularly on the power play, has been limited, but Quick, for the most part, has been consistently good.
``He was on the puck,'' coach Terry Murray said of Quick. ``He had some huge stops, at times, in the second period. There was one where he kind of got lost there. He got stuck on the far side of the ice on their one power play, with Chara with the one-timer, but we got a break with him missing the net on it.
``But outside of that, he was very aggressive. His attitude was to challenge and stay on top of the puck. It has an incredible effect on your bench. The players, everything is alive, everything is energized because of what's happening in your goal.''
The Kings started the game looking sharp in front of Quick, and got rewarded after Boston's Zdeno Chara went to the penalty box for hooking in the first period.
On the ensuing power play, Smyth did a good job of keeping the puck in the Boston zone, then got rewarded a few seconds later. Jarret Stoll took a shot from just above the left circle and Smyth, parked at the side of the net, took two whacks at the rebound and put the puck past prone goalie Thomas to give the Kings a 1-0 lead with 9:10 remaining in the first period.
``It really helps against a team that’s a good hockey club like that,'' Murray said. ``They’ve got the number-one goaltender, save percentage and goals-against average, in the league. If you can get one in early on them it’s very important. It's important for your team, it puts more pressure on them obviously, and Smytty was right there for that shot attitude. The rebounds are there, and he's in the right place at the right time.''
The Kings didn't let up after Smyth's goal, and Greene went out of his way to credit both Quick and rookie winger Kyle Clifford, who traded punches with veteran tough-guy Shawn Thornton with less than five minutes left in the first period.
``Quickie was great, as always, as he always has been this year, and Kyle Clifford is one bad dude,'' Greene said. ``He just keeps doing his job extremely well. That was huge for us tonight, that fight. That was a big lift for our team.''
After a scoreless second period, the Kings killed a penalty early in the third then took a 2-0 lead at the 3:30 mark. Anze Kopitar picked off a pass at the defensive blue line, then skated the puck deep into the Boston zone. Kopitar passed to Dustin Brown, who shot from the right circle.
Thomas made the save, but defenseman Adam McQuaid was unable to clear the puck from the front of the net, and Loktionov pounced on it and scored.
It was Loktionov's second goal of the season, and his first in three games since being called up from the AHL and put into a first-line left-wing role with Kopitar and Brown.
``Loktionov is a very intelligent player,'' Murray said. ``That's why he is there, to play with Kopitar and hopefully generate some offense, make some plays. He has a great deal of composure with the puck. Then we see the chemistry happening with that second goal tonight. Kopitar makes a strong play, carrying the puck. I think it was from high in our D zone, right through the ice, and Loktionov is off the back door.''
That was enough for Quick, who is now fourth in Kings franchise history for most shutouts in a career, one behind Felix Potvin and three behind Jamie Storr.
``I think he's been unbelievable for us all year,'' Greene said. ``Our goaltending has been solid the entire year. Maybe not getting rewarded, with us scoring goals, but he's been keeping us in every game, and he's been doing that since he got here.''