After Saturday's victory, Kings coach Terry Murray insinuated that Jonathan Quick might start 70 games in goal, then quickly backtracked and said he was joking.
Dry humor, Murray said. Then again, if Quick can play the next 45 games the way he played Saturday, he might be a tired, and successful, goalie by season's end.
Quick turned in arguably his best effort of the season as the Kings played a strong overall game and beat Western Conference power Chicago 2-1 in a shootout before a sellout crowd of 18,118 at STAPLES Center.
Wayne Simmonds scored the Kings' only goal in regulation, in the second period, and Chicago's Jonathan Toews tied the game in the third period, setting up an entertaining overtime period and the Kings' shootout win.
Afterward, Quick said all the normal things. He praised his defensemen and the team in general and gave himself almost no credit for his season-high 32 saves.
``The team did great in front of me, clearing all the shots,'' Quick said. ``The few that I didn't see, they missed the net. I got lucky. I caught one off the post in the third period. It was a great game, a great team win. Chicago is a real great team, so it's great to go toe to toe with them like that.''
Leave it to one of those players in front of Quick, then, to offer up the praise.
``Quicker played great tonight,'' defenseman Drew Doughty said. ``I thought the whole team played pretty well, but without Quicker in net, and the way he played tonight, I don't think we would have won the game.
``We are all confident in him. He is the starter for a reason. He’s been making all the saves at the right times.''
That hasn't always been the case this season. Quick has rarely been terrible in goal, but he has also rarely been great, at least until this week.
Somewhat lost in the Kings' 4-1 loss at Vancouver on Thursday was the way Quick played strong, with poise, and, almost single-handedly at times, kept the Kings in the game until deep into the third period.
Then on Saturday, facing a high-powered Chicago team hungry for goals after being shut out the previous night in Anaheim, Quick played with confidence and control and gobbled up shots, including all six of Marian Hossa's shots.
``He was, I think, just building off the game that he played in Vancouver,'' Murray said. ``He was outstanding up there and he brought it back home here today. He made some big stops. You have to play good against Chicago. They've got a lot of firepower, two top lines, their back end is very mobile, and they get a lot of plays to the net there.
``They’re moving around and you have to really scan the ice, making sure you’re seeing the right stuf. And then they come up in the shootout the way that he did, he was one of the stars for me tonight.''
Murray was then asked if Quick, who has started 25 of 27 games for the Kings so far, could end up starting in the neighborhood of 70 out of the 82 games.
``We're going to find out,'' said Murray, who then elaborated on Quick's impressive endurance level.
Asked if he really intended to see if Quick could start 70 games -- an all-but-impossible total for even the best of goalies -- Murray said, ``It was just a little humor. That's my dry humor. But we'll see. I know he can play a lot. Touch wood, if everything moves along and he stays healthy, of course, but physically, strength-wise, he has good abilities to play a lot of games.''
Quick still looked strong after 65 minutes Saturday. Anze Kopitar and Jack Johnson scored on the Kings' first two shootout attempts, and Quick stopped Toews and Patrick Kane to give the Kings the valuable second point in the standings.
After a road-heavy start to the season, the Kings play five of their next seven games at home, and don't have to leave the state for the other two (Anaheim and San Jose).
``This is a critical time for us, from this time forward until the Christmas break,'' Murray said. ``We have some big games at home. A lot of stuff is going to happen here in a short period of time, so we have to bring our A game, and I'm really happy with the way we played here tonight, with the right attitude. We executed well, we were heavy and hard at the right time and, again, we've got to bring the same kind of effort every night.''
Certainly, issues remain for the Kings. They went scoreless again on the power play (0 for 3) and the top line remained silent. In five games without injured winger Ryan Smyth, the top line has scored only one goal.
Simmonds, though, is picking up the slack, as he scored a goal in his third consecutive game. Simmonds, who had nine goals in 82 games as a rookie last season, now has eight goals in 27 games.
``He looks like he was at the end of the season last year, the last 10 games,'' Murray said. ``He's jumping, he's got a lot of power in his game. He's playing a hard, heavy game and going to the net the way he did tonight, scoring a goal, he's just showing us that he's maturing and that he wants more.
``I love what he's doing. I love his attitude. He's a good kid and he comes to work every day, so I'm happy for him.''
The Kings took the lead on a smart give-and-go play with Simmonds and Michal Handzus, 2:41 into the second period. Simmonds carried the puck up the right side, dropped the puck for Handzus, went to the net, took the pass and tucked the puck past Huet for a 1-0 Kings lead.
Chicago tied it in the third period after an offensive-zone holding the stick penalty on Handzus. The Blackhawks scored just 15 seconds into their power play. Kane's shot from the top of the right circle was stopped by Quick, but Toews got to the rebound in front and scored 6:56 into the third period.
Kings center Jarret Stoll returned to the lineup after missing the previous two games with a groin strain. Rob Scuderi (lower-body injury) and Ryan Smyth (upper-body injury) remained out of the lineup Saturday.
LAKings.com's NOTES Jonathan Quick stopped a season high 32 shots tonight...Quick has won three straight shootouts (stopping all eight shots against)... Anze Kopitar played in his 200th consecutive game tonight (March 21, 2007 to present)... Wayne Simmonds now has a career-high three-game goal streak (3-1=4 in that span)...Simmonds has (8-7=15) this season and had (9-14=23) last season...Scott Parse has assists in three straight games...Dustin Brown had a season high nine hits tonight...The Kings out-hit Chicago 41-25...Michael Handzus won 12-of-16 faceoffs (75 percent)...The Kings are 7-0-3 in their last 10 home games vs. Chicago...Their 15-10-2 start is tied for the eighth best 27-game start in franchise history...The Kings are 9-0-0 when leading after two periods.
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