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COLUMBUS -- Jarret Stoll didn't share a locker room with Mathieu Garon for very long -- only about six months -- but Stoll certainly paid attention to the way the goalie played.
Stoll and Garon were teammates with the Edmonton Oilers during the 2007-08 season, and on Wednesday night, roughly three years later, Stoll prepared to skate in on Garon during a shootout. Stoll recalled what he had seen on all those cold evenings in Alberta.
``I knew he challenges (shooters),'' Stoll said. ``He comes out pretty hard and pretty fast. I played with him in Edmonton for one season, and he was 30-for-33. I've seen so many people deke him and deke him, and he's so athletic and moves post-to-post really well.
``I was not deke-ing, that's for sure.''
Garon challenged, and Stoll beat him with a wrist shot. Then, Stoll's current teammate, Jonathan Quick, finished shutting down the Columbus Blue Jackets in the shootout and the Kings claimed a 4-3 victory before 12,442 Wednesday night at Nationwide Arena.
To be certain, the win was not all that aesthetically pleasing. The Kings lost a 1-0 first-period lead and a 2-1 second-period lead and had a huge, lengthy 5-on-3 penalty kill late in the second period that extended to the start of the third period. Columbus came up with a goal with 1:23 remaining in regulation, but the Kings still claimed the two points.
Quick stopped Rick Nash, Matt Calvert -- with a nice, surprising poke-check -- and Kristian Huselius, which allowed Stoll's goal to stand up as the shootout winner.
``I just wanted to get a good shot away, and let him back up and move into his net and open up some net,'' Stoll said of Garon. ``And I found a corner.''
The Kings improved to 8-0-2 in their last 10 games and, seven games into their season-long stretch of 10 straight road games, they have claimed 12 out of a possible 14 points.
``But at the end of the day, we're not where we want to be, so we've got to keep building,'' Quick said. ``(The Kings) could have stumbled here, with the road trip, but also we could have had a homestand last month that went differently. So, at the end of the day, I think it's starting to even up a little bit. We've still got to fight for that playoff spot. It's a real tight conference right now, and we've got to battle every night.''
Quick improved to 7-0 in shootouts this season and has stopped 28 of 33 attempts, for a save percentage of .848. His 33 shootout saves are the most in the NHL this season.
``He's been very good,'' Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``He gets very focused on the challenge at hand, and obviously comes up big again for us here tonight. Big poke check on the second shooter. He was so focused.
``He surprised me, because I haven't seen that poke-check very often. He certainly surprised Calvert. But he faced two of their premier players and did the job for us.''
Quick also helped do the job on what could have been a devastating turn of events late in the second period, with the game tied 2-2. First, Drew Doughty helped save a goal in front of the Kings' net, but also committed a hooking penalty. Then, seven seconds later, Trevor Lewis took a poor tripping penalty, giving Columbus a lengthy 5-on-3 advantage.
Over the next 1:53, though -- going into the third period as well -- the Blue Jackets buzzed around Quick's net and had a handful of close-range shots tipped just high or wide, but the Blue Jackets never actually managed to record a shot on goal.
``That was gigantic, the 5-on-3, almost a full two minutes on it,'' Murray said. ``I was a little upset at the carelessness of Lewis going out on that defenseman, to put them up on the 5-on-3, but the play was big. They were in the lanes, they had great sticks. Zeus, Greene, Willie, great job on the 5-on-3. Quicker. It takes everybody to be active but not to be overactive. Don't mistake activity for achievement there. You've got to just kind of hold your position and just be in the right shooting lanes. It was an excellent job.''
The Kings completed the kill, and then, 6:08 into the third period, Doughty scored to give the Kings a 3-2 lead, which held up until Kris Russell's goal with 1:23 remaining.
``I don't care how we did it,'' Stoll said. ``It wasn't pretty. We had some breakdowns on their goals and stuff, but we got the two points. That's the bottom line. We've got to move on. We've got a game tomorrow (against the New York Rangers) we've got to focus on and get ready for, and that's it. That's all there is to it. If we keep getting points, keep taking care of our business, we'll be fine.''
Garon got the start in goal for the Blue Jackets because regular No. 1 goalie Steve Mason has been suffering from bronchitis, and the score was even for much of the game.
Late in the first period, the Kings opened the scoring, six seconds after the end of a power play. Alec Martinez's point shot didn't get through, and Andrei Loktionov couldn't get a solid shot from the slot, but Williams, parked to the right of the net, picked up the loose puck and slipped a backhand shot past the prone Garon to give the Kings a 1-0 lead with 3:08 remaining in the period.
Part of their season-long trend, the Kings allowed a goal quickly after scoring. This time, the tying goal came less than two minutes later. Nash carried the puck into the Kings' zone and pushed it ahead to a streaking Derek MacKenzie. MacKenzie then hit Jakub Voracek with a cross-ice pass. With Quick trying to slide over, he was hindered a bit by Doughty's attempt to defend the crease, and Voracek scored on a high shot to tie the game 1-1 with 1:26 remaining in the period.
Loktionov gave the Kings the lead again with 6:55 remaining in the second period. Matt Greene carried the puck into the Blue Jackets' zone and pushed it toward the net. Garon fumbled the puck and couldn't cover it, and Greene picked it up again, behind the net, and sent a backhand centering pass to Loktionov, who scored from the slot to give the Kings a 2-1 lead.
``I didn't know where I was passing it or anything,'' Greene said. ``I just kind of threw it and tried to bank it off him [Garon] and it went through.''
Once again, the Kings failed to hold a lead for more than three minutes. This time, Grant Clitsome pushed the puck in deep, where MacKenzie picked it up. MacKenzie flipped a quick centering pass to Nash, who snapped a high wrist shot from the left circle to beat Quick and tie the game 2-2 with 4:46 remaining in the second period.
After the big 5-on-3 penalty kill, the Kings took a 3-2 lead 6:08 into the third period. Doughty found some open ice just inside the blue line, took a low-to-high pass from Michal Handzus and ripped a slap shot. With Wayne Simmonds running traffic in front, the shot beat Garon cleanly. Anze Kopitar also picked up an assist.
Columbus tied the game with 1:23 remaining, with Garon heading to the bench for an extra attacker. Voracek's wrist shot was stopped, but Russell was unmarked on the left side of the net and scored on the rebound to tie the game 3-3.
After the late-game letdown, the Kings were able to rebound and had a couple scoring chances in overtime, then claimed the extra point with the shootout win.
``It was huge,'' Greene said. ``Obviously we didn't want to give them the one point, but sometimes that's just the way it goes. We had it locked down pretty well, and then they'd have a shift or a rush here or there, and they'd really get a grade-A chance.
``So obviously it's not the way we want to play, giving up a goal late in the third like that, but it's a big testament to Quickie and the guys in the shootout. Stolly just keeps scoring, and Quickie is making big saves for us, night in and night out. So you don't want to give one point, but we're happy with the two we got.''