LOS ANGELES – The Kings played host to a Buffalo team struggling mightily to produce offense this season, and didn’t give the Sabres any leeway Thursday night, holding them scoreless in their 2-0 win at STAPLES Center, their fifth straight victory.
The Sabres came into the game dead last in the NHL in scoring, and now remain so, and worse – but they didn’t go without a respectable effort – firing away for 29 shots, all of which were turned away by Jonathan Quick.
Buffalo has totaled a lowly eight goals in their eight games played this season.
As for the Kings, their offense got rolling less than a minute into the game. After Buffalo’s Tyler Myers was called for a hooking infraction 29 seconds into play, the Kings got to work immediately, Jeff Carter beating Buffalo’s Jhonas Enroth a mere seven seconds after Myers was sent to the box.
Carter received the puck atop the Kings zone after Anze Kopitar’s successful faceoff win, and fired a wrist shot on net and into traffic. Tanner Pearson set a phenomenal screen on the play, and Carter’s shot found it’s way through the wickets, handcuffing Enroth and beating him low to the left side.
“I think the biggest key was just coming out and playing hard right off the get go,” Anze Kopitar said following the win. “I think our start was pretty good because we scored thirty seconds in, so that’s obviously a good start. I think we were dictating the pace the whole game and I think it was a good effort by everybody.”
Carter’s goal gave the Kings a 1-0 lead :36 seconds into the game, which would be the only offense the game would present for the next 30-plus minutes of play.
In between the Kings’ goals Thursday night were two Kings rookies, Andy Andreoff and Brayden McNabb, showcasing their toughness, both players taking fighting majors as they look to add scrap to their repertoire.
The Kings padded their lead late in the second period when Anze Kopitar struck for his second goal of the season. Kopitar disrupted a Buffalo clearing attempt, fed the puck down low to Jeff Carter who returned the pass, and Kopitar one-timed the exchange with a shot that trickled past Enroth.
Kopitar’s goal gave the Kings a 2-0 lead with 4:49 to play in the second period.
Carter, with the assist on Kopitar’s goal, registered his 100th point in a Kings uniform (63G, 37A). It took Carter 143 games to reach the milestone, and has gotten off to a hot start this season, averaging in at a point-per-game pace through the Kings’ first eight games (4G, 4A).
Jonathan Quick, with his 29-save shutout, has set a new franchise record, recording the 33rd of his career Thursday night, bypassing Rogie Vachon and his 32. Quick has only allowed two goals in the last four games, stopping 143 of the 145 shots he’s faced during that span.
“Without a doubt it’s special,” Quick said of the milestone accomplishment. “Especially a shutout. It takes 20 men to do that, to shut a team out for 60 minutes, so I’m very grateful for my teammates over the years. It’s over now, we’ll keep playing, we got a game in a couple of days here.”
The Kings have now won five straight games, and are on a six game point streak, they are nearly perfect after dropping the regular season opener to San Jose on October 8.
After killing off all three of Buffalo’s power plays Thursday night, the Kings have extended their successful penalty kill streak to 17. They haven’t allowed a power play goal since October 11 against Arizona.
Both of the Kings’ goals Thursday came on the power play, they are now 4-for-23 on the season.
Jeff Carter led the team in points (1G, 1A = 2), Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Alec Martinez, and Tyler Toffoli in shots (4), Kyle Clifford in hits (5), Matt Greene in blocked shots (2), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (26:19).
The Kings will finish up their six game home stand Sunday afternoon when the Columbus Blue Jackets slide in for a 1:00 matchup at STAPLES Center. Now 5-0 on the current home stand, the Kings, with a win Sunday, could record their first ever perfect mark during a six game home stand.