Now, the Kings scatter. Five will be in Vancouver, for the Olympics. Hawaii, New York and Maine are among the other destinations. Many will stay in Southern California.
Wherever they’re located on the continent for the next two weeks, they will be happy.
In their final game before the 16-day Olympic break, the Kings put together a complete effort. They got scoring, they got good goaltending, they won the special-teams battle and they beat Colorado 3-0 before a sellout crowd Saturday night at STAPLES Center.
``It's huge getting that win in that last game,’’ Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. ``I know that our focus tonight was exactly how it has to be for all of our games. We kept things simple and didn't do too many cute things.
``That's why we came out strong and came out with a win. Hopefully we can remember the things we did tonight, and bring that in after the break.’’
With 78 points in 61 games, the Kings are in fifth place in the Western Conference, one point behind fourth-place Phoenix (with two games in hand), 10 points ahead of ninth-place and far ahead of most expectations held by league pundits at the start of the season.
Twenty-one games remain in the regular season, which will resume on March 2 when the Kings travel to face the Dallas Stars, and if the Kings can string together 60-minute efforts like the one they gave Saturday, they will be in stellar position.
``We've got 78 points. We're now one point back of Phoenix with two games in hand,’’ coach Terry Murray said. ``We're in a good position right now. We have 15 games in March and six in April in front of us, so it's going to be a sprint to the finish and it's going to be a lot of fun. Every game has got great meaning, and I'm looking forward to it.
``The players, I know, are looking forward to it. They get a good break, refresh, and come back at it.’’
Against a hot Colorado team – albeit one that played at home the previous night – the Kings started strong, had a huge second-period penalty kill, got goals from Brad Richardson, Anze Kopitar and Oscar Moller and a shutout from Jonathan Quick.
Quick (22 saves) tied the franchise record – set by Mario Lessard in 1980-81 – with his 35th win of the season, and his second shutout of the year. Barring injury, it seems likely that Quick will shatter the team’s single-season records for goalie wins and games.
``The team has done a great job of maturing and coming together,’’ Quick said. ``Right from the summer, we put a big emphasis on gelling together as a team and coming together as a team, and I think it has really showed this year, so far. We've played some great hockey.’’
Quick didn’t need to be at his best Saturday, but he came up big when needed, particularly during a five-minute penalty kill in the third period, with Rob Scuderi in the penalty box for boarding. The Kings killed the penalty and scored 1:22 later.
Quick returned to goal for the Kings, after he missed Thursday's game with flu symptoms, and his teammates' strong play in the first period allowed him to ease back into game action a bit.
The Kings outshot the Avalanche 9-4 in a scoreless first period, and neither team generated much with one power-play opportunity.
Colorado had a golden chance to get the first goal when the Kings' Rob Scuderi was called for a major boarding penalty 4:57 into the second period. But the Kings killed the penalty, and scored less than two minutes later.
Scuderi got out of the penalty box and, shortly thereafter, steadied a pass just inside the Colorado blue line. Scuderi took a quick shot and Richardson tipped the puck past Craig Anderson with 8:41 remaining in the period. Rich Clune also got an assist for his first NHL point.
The Kings took a two-goal lead with a power-play goal 3:48 into the third period. Jack Johnson got it started when he carried the puck below the goal line, then fed it up to Kopitar in the right circle. As Ryan Smyth moved to the front of the net to provide traffic, Kopitar shot and scored.
Moller made it 3-0 Kings at the 7:02 mark. Clune pushed the puck ahead to Moller in the neutral zone, and Moller brought the puck into the offensive zone with speed. Moller fired a laser wrist shot from the middle of the left circle and beat Anderson. Johnson also picked up an assist.
``A real good third period, I thought,’’ Murray said. ``When you have a one-goal lead, you really have to dig in and do the right things, managing the puck the right way. I thought everybody bought in to what needed to be done to finish the game off the right way. As a result of it, you end up getting a power play.
``Kopitar scores on a great shot, and then just simple plays, faceoffs. Moller comes down and kind of salts it away with a goal.’’
Quick made the lead stand up from there, and drew several ovations from the crowd throughout the game. The loudest was at the end, when he, Dustin Brown and Johnson (USA), Doughty (Canada) and Michal Handzus (Slovakia) were given a special Olympic send-off.
LAKings.com's NOTES Jonathan Quick earned his second shutout of the season (6th of his career). He’s now tied with Mathieu Garon for ninth all-time in Kings history.
.. Quick earned his 35th win of the season, tying the Kings single-season record (Mario Lessard also had 35 in 1980-81).
.. Tonight was Quick’s 102nd appearance as a King, tying him for 10th in club history with Bob Janecyk.
.. Quick is 10-1-0 in his last 11 games and 15-4-0 in his last 19 games.
.. Anze Kopitar has points in 11 of his last 12 games (9-9=18).
.. Rich Clune tallied his first two NHL assists/points (second career NHL game).
.. Drew Doughty has 21 points in the last 23 games (3-18=21).
.. The Kings are 12-2-1 in their last 15 games.
· The Kings are 5-0-1 in their last six games at home.
.. The Kings are 28-5-3 when scoring first and 23-0-0 when leading after two periods.
.. The Kings have 78 points, fifth in the Western Conference (one point behind Phoenix for fourth).
.. Last season the Kings finished with 79 points... Actress and musician Deborah "Debbie" Gibson performed the National Anthem prior to the Kings- Avalanche contest.
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