The Kings didn’t get the offensive breakthrough they were looking for, but they did get two points. In late March, that’s really the only thing that matters.
Brad Richardson’s first-period goal held up, thanks to some outstanding penalty killing and some great overall play from goalie Jonathan Quick, as the Kings beat the New York Islanders 1-0 before a sellout crowd Saturday night at STAPLES Center.
``We had 60 minutes,’’ Kings captain Dustin Brown said. ``That's the first time we've had 60 minutes in a while. It was a huge win at a huge time in the season for us. The Islanders played a good game. It was a tight game. I think all the games, from here on out, are going to be like that. We just have to find that rhythm.’’
The Kings were 0-2-1 in their previous three games, during which they totaled only five regulation goals, which led Terry Murray to shake up his forwards and roll four almost-entirely new lines. In the end, though, the Kings won with defense and goaltending.
Richardson, promoted to the first line along with Wayne Simmonds – with Anze Kopitar as the center – scored on a sharp wrist shot with 6:25 remaining in the first period, and Quick made 26 saves for his fourth shutout of the season.
Quick also recorded a 2-1 road victory over the Islanders in October.
``It was a great effort by Quick,’’ Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``He made a save at the end of the game, with about 10 seconds left, on a little pass from behind the net, to Okposo, I think it was. He gave us a good game. We had four penalty kills. They had a lot of time in our zone. The penalty killing is largely due to the success of the goaltender, and he was very alert, sharp. A good bounce-back game.’’
The win was also big in the sense that the Kings’ primary competitors in the Western Conference just won’t lose. Phoenix, Detroit and Nashville all picked up two points Saturday, so the Kings were able to keep pace.
With the win, the Kings moved into fifth place in the West, tied (at 87 points) with Nashville but with two games in hand. The Kings are one point head of seventh-place Colorado (the teams play a home-and-home series Monday and Wednesday) and, most importantly, they’re six points clear of ninth-place Calgary, with one game in hand.
Quick entered Saturday having allowed three goals in five of his last six games, but he came through with one of his better efforts of the season, particularly late in the third period, when the Islanders were buzzing in the Kings’ zone for a potential tying goal.
Quick’s best save was his last one, as he made a point-blank save on Kyle Okposo with 11 seconds remaining to wrap up the shutout and the victory.
``It was a win,’’ Murray said. ``It was a very important win. It’s a win that is very hard to come by tonight, because this is a game you’re supposed to win as a team, and those are the hardest kinds of games to win. But it’s two points.
``Everybody keeps winning in this conference. I’ve been saying this right from the start of the year, that it’s going to be a race right down to the very end. We’re going to get into the final six games of April and they’re all going to have great meaning in this conference.’’
The Kings were also perfect again on the penalty kill. They killed all four Islanders power-play chances and now have killed 24 consecutive penalties, dating to the second period of the March 4 game at Nashville.
``I think it's just being real detailed,’’ Quick said. ``Everyone is competing, everyone is battling. We're killing off a lot of time down in their zone. Richie, today, among a few other guys, just spent some time in the corners of their zone, and that really helps out. We're blocking shots, and the PK is really playing well right now.''
The Kings improved to 27-0-0 this season when leading after two periods, 22-9-5 in one-goal games and finished their season with a 14-4 record against the Eastern Conference.
But this one didn’t come easy.
The Kings had a strong start to the game, killed a penalty in the middle of the first period and got rewarded for it with 6:25 remaining in the period.
The Kings got some sustained pressure, and a goal, from their new-look top line with 6:25 remaining in the first period. Simmonds passed the puck out of the corner, to the slot, and Richardson fired a wrist shot to beat Dwayne Roloson (25 saves).
``Simmer made a great play,’’ Richardson said. ``He kind of waited for the guy to swing away from me. I just tried to shoot as quick as possible.’’
Richardson’s goal held up, despite some nervous moments, particularly late in the second period. The Islanders outshot the Kings 12-7 in the second, and spent much of the final five minutes in the Kings’ zone, but couldn’t score.
New York had the edge in scoring opportunities in the third period as well, and Murray called a timeout with 7:22 remaining to calm his players, and the Kings held on.
``Just getting two points from this game was huge,’’ Brown said. ``We needed a win. I think it's important for us, as a group in here, to realize, though, that it's just one game. We needed it bad, but it's done and over now. It's just kind of the same thing with the game against Chicago. It's done and over, and we have to forget about it. We don't have time to sit there and feel good about ourselves.’’
LAKings.com's NOTES The Kings have now killed 24 straight penalties (dating back to 2nd period Mar. 4 at Nashville)
...The team record for consecutive penalties killed is 46 (2001-02)
... The Kings are 49-54 on the PK the last 16 games (90.7 percent) and 33-35 in the last 10 games (94.3 percent)
...Jonathan Quick earned his fourth shutout (all at home). He had four shutouts last season (all on the road)
...The last time the Kings won 1-0 was March 26, 2009 at Dallas (1-0 in shootout)
...Brad Richardson scored his 11th goal tonight (career high is 14 with Colorado in 2006-07)
...The Kings are 27-0-0 when leading after two periods and 32-6-3 when scoring first
...The Kings are 22-9-5 in one-goal games
... The Kings are 14-4-0 vs. Eastern Conference
...The club record for most wins in a season is 46 (1990-91)
...The most wins Terry Murray has had in one season is 45 (three times).