LOS ANGELES – With a very disciplined performance, aided by the spectacular play of Jonathan Quick, the Kings ground out a 2-0 victory over the Boston Bruins Tuesday night at STAPLES Center.
Boston, one of the few teams in the Eastern Conference that plays the same heavy-set style of hockey the Kings do, were solid in their own zone and ferocious on the forecheck; they did just about everything but get a puck past Jonathan Quick.
“I think there was a little more detail in our game tonight than there was last game,” Darryl Sutter said of the Kings’ performance. “We played the way we had to. It’s not always about the result, it’s more about the process of trying to do it right and working at it.”
One of the things the Kings did right was staying out of the penalty box, allowing the Bruins zero power play opportunities on the evening. Jordan Nolan was the only King to get sent to the penalty box; he was called for embellishment following a tussle with Milan Lucic prior to a neutral zone faceoff, but the penalties were coincidental.
In what was a very fast-paced first period, the Kings found themselves in control, spending a great deal of time in Boston’s zone. The Kings’ puck movement in the offensive zone was just about as good as it’s been all season long, and it was key in producing the first goal of the night.
As the Kings controlled the puck deep in Boston’s zone, Anze Kopitar found Brayden McNabb with a pass, who then had his shot blocked. Kopitar, continuing to move on the play, hopped on the loose puck, and fed a back-door pass to a wide open Tanner Pearson.
Pearson, with time and space aplenty, and just about the entire net open to shoot at, one-timed a shot to the top shelf and past Niklas Svedberg to give the Kings a 1-0 lead with just over three minutes to play in the first period.
Pearson’s goal was his tenth of the season and his first in four games. His goal, which ended up being the game-winner, is his third of the season, which leads the Kings’ roster.
The remainder of the game featured balanced, fast-paced, physical hockey while the Kings clung to their one-goal lead until the final minute of the contest.
Boston’s Torey Krug had the Bruins’ best scoring opportunity of the night midway through the third period, but was stonewalled by Jonathan Quick as the Kings’ goaltender showed stellar movement in his crease.
Quick stopped a shot deflected by Milan Lucic, and the rebound caromed straight to Krug, who was all alone, staring at a wide-open net with no defensemen in his vicinity. Quick muffled Krug’s shot with the left side of his chest protector, where the puck then glanced off of the left post and back into Quick’s possession.
Tyler Toffoli solidified the win for the Kings with an empty-net goal with :50 seconds remaining in regulation. For Toffoli, it was also his tenth goal of the season. He and Pearson are now once again tied for the team-lead in goals scored.
Anze Kopitar, with assists on both goals tonight, tallied his fourth multi-point game of the season.
Jonathan Quick finished the night with 31 saves, stopping every Boston shot he faced. For Quick, it was his third shutout of the season, and the 34th of his NHL career. Quick is 10-1-1 in his last 12 starts at STAPLES Center.
“It’s two points,” Jonathan Quick said of the win. “Whether it’s a 6-5 win, 1-0 or 2-0, it’s just about getting the win, especially against a team as good as Boston. We’ll take the two points and carry that momentum to Arizona.”
Anze Kopitar (2A) led all Kings players in points scored (2), Mike Richards and Tyler Toffoli in shots taken (5), Brayden McNabb and Jake Muzzin in hits delivered (4), Drew Doughty in shots blocked (2), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (26:50). Jonathan Quick made 31 saves in the win.
The Kings are now 10-0-3 this season when registering the first goal of a contest.
With the win, the Kings’ record improves to 13-7-5, and their mark on home ice at STAPLES Center jumps to 11-3-1. The Kings will not hit the road for one game, making their second and final visit to Gila River Arena Thursday night to play the Arizona Coyotes. The puck is slated to drop at 6:00PM PT.