Jonathan Quick finally got his first shutout of the lockout-delayed season in the Los Angeles Kings’ 28th game, well off his pace last year when he set a franchise record with 10 en route to winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.
On Monday night, he was just glad to get the win.
Quick posted his 25th career regular-season shutout, beating Phoenix 4-0 with 27 saves and handing the punchless Coyotes their third straight shutout loss.
”I thought I played well,” said Quick, who is within seven shutouts of Rogie Vachon’s club record. ”I was seeing pucks well and the guys did a good job of clearing out lanes and letting me see it. I let a couple of rebounds get away from me, but we did a good job of making sure there weren’t second opportunities. It’s just good to win. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how you do it. You still get two points.”
Defenseman Drew Doughty helped preserve the shutout on a heads-up play with less than 7 minutes left in the second period. Quick flopped on his stomach to thwart a scoring bid by Raffi Torres and couldn’t control the rebound, which lay in the crease in front of a wide-open net until Doughty swept it out of danger before Coyotes captain Shane Doan could get a stick on it.
”It’s just another play he’s made in front of me to help me out and help me pad my stats a little bit,” Quick said. ”He’s doing what he’s been doing since he came into this league, and he’s even a little better than he was last year. So it’s great having him in front of me, playing as many minutes as he does and against the other team’s top line every night.”
The Kings killed off four Phoenix power plays, one of them during the final 58 seconds.
”It was great,” Quick said. ”We even created a couple of chances on the PK. That’s something that we did so well last year that we haven’t been as great at this year. But tonight we did a great job of taking away their threats and not letting them get too many quality chances.”
The Kings won for the 11th time in 15 games and 10th time in their last 11 at Staples Center. Tyler Toffoli scored his first NHL goal on a power play in only his second game with Los Angeles. Rookie defenseman Jake Muzzin also scored with the man advantage, while Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter each had a goal and an assist for the defending Stanley Cup champions.
The Coyotes, coming off losses at St. Louis and at Columbus, haven’t scored in 185 minutes, 10 seconds, since rookie Rob Klinkhammer beat Quick with 9:05 remaining in Phoenix’s 5-2 home win over the Kings on March 12. It’s the first time they have been shut out in three consecutive games in the 33-year history of the Phoenix/Winnipeg Jets franchise.
”Nobody wants to go three games without a goal, but it happens and you’ve got to find ways to get through it,” Doan said. ”We felt we had some opportunities in the second and third periods. We had a power play that I missed the net on with a one-timer. When you’re put out there to score goals and you miss an opportunity like that, that’s a mistake. And we can’t have those. I made it, and it’s been happening too often. It would be nice to get a lucky one, but you have to create your own luck.”
The Coyotes are in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race despite not having a winning streak of more than two games. Mike Smith stopped 18 shots, including a short-handed breakaway attempt by Kings captain Dustin Brown early in the second period. But Smith was pulled by coach Dave Tippett with 12:27 remaining after giving up Kopitar’s ninth goal and Carter’s 18th during a 71-second span.
Just 8 seconds after he was thwarted by Quick on a point-blank shot from 25 feet in the slot, Martin Hanzal was sent off for high-sticking Kopitar and the Kings opened the scoring on the ensuing power play.
Muzzin got a cross-ice pass from Kopitar above the left circle and took a slap shot that glanced off David Moss’ body as he slid in front to try and block it, and the puck flew over Smith’s glove at 6:01 of the first period.
Brown had a great chance to give the Kings a 2-0 lead when Kopitar sent him a breakaway less than a minute after teammate Trevor Lewis was sent off for high-sticking.
Smith held his ground on that scoring attempt, but the Kings continued crashing the net until Phoenix defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson knocked it off its moorings at 7:38 of the second and got a delay-of-game penalty from referee Francis Charron. Midway through the power play, Toffoli converted a rebound from the left of the crease.
Toffoli, listed at 6-foot-1 and 187 pounds, had 52 goals, 100 points and a plus-31 rating last season with Ottawa of the Ontario Hockey League while playing right wing. He had 28 goals and 48 points in 55 games with Manchester of the AHL when he was called up March 10. And he was grateful that Darryl Sutter had enough confidence in him to use him on the power play.
”It was incredible. I didn’t want to let him down,” Toffoli said. ”I wanted to just play my game and shoot the puck. I’ve only been here for a week, so I’m just getting used to being here and I’m doing the best I can. I was so excited and relieved to get that first goal out of the way. The ovation I got after it gave me goose bumps. Hopefully there’s more to come.”
NOTES: Of the 43 rookie defenseman who have played at least one game in the NHL this season, Muzzin has the most goals with six. Edmonton’s Justin Schultz is one behind him. The Kings’ record for most goals by a rookie defenseman was set by Hall of Famer Larry Murphy with 16 in 1980-81. … The Kings are 7 for 17 on the power play in their last six games. … Phoenix C Boyd Gordon is one of three forwards in the league to have played in at least 28 games this season without scoring a goal. The others are Pittsburgh LW Tanner Glass (30) and Rangers C Jeff Halpern (28). … Coyotes C Matthew Lombardi turned 31 years old on Monday. … Kings coach Darryl Sutter is one victory from tying his brother Brian’s total of 451 for 22nd place on the career coaching list. … The Coyotes are back at Staples Center on Tuesday night – the second and last time the Kings will play a team in consecutive contests at home before the playoffs.