In what Los Angeles Kings coach Terry Murray called perhaps his team’s most important game of the season, Jarret Stoll came up big at the end.
So did goalie Jonathan Quick.
Stoll had the only goal in the shootout, and Quick stopped all three shots he saw in the tiebreaker in leading the Kings past the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3 on Wednesday night, extending Los Angeles’ unbeaten streak to 10 games.
More importantly, it was two pivotal points against another team fighting for a precious playoff spot.
”We’ve had two days to recover to get ready for maybe the biggest game of the year — conference game, both teams are trying to push themselves into the playoffs,” Murray said. ”It was back and forth and we are going to need to be more focused as we move through the rest of this trip.”
The road’s been very good to the Kings.
Their 8-0-2 spurt is the team’s best in 31 years. Los Angeles can match the franchise record when it plays the eighth of a 10-game road trip against the New York Rangers on Thursday.
Los Angeles also has points in eight straight road games (6-0-2), its top surge since 1984.
”We could have stumbled here on the road trip, but we also could have had a homestand last month that went differently,” said Quick, who had 21 saves. ”It’s starting to even out, but we’re still fighting for that playoff spot. It’s a real tight conference right now and we have to battle every night.”
The Blue Jackets forced overtime on Kris Russell’s goal with 1:23 left in regulation, salvaging a point.
Andrei Loktionov had a goal and an assist, and Justin Williams and Drew Doughty also scored for the Kings.
Los Angeles improved to 7-1 in shootouts and dropped the Blue Jackets to 4-3.
Rick Nash and Jake Voracek each had a goal and an assist, and Derek MacKenzie had two assists for Columbus, which had won five of six coming in. Mathieu Garon had 26 saves.
The loss could be particularly costly for the Blue Jackets, with top-line center Derick Brassard leaving the game early after a puck hit his left hand. He didn’t return. Coach Scott Arniel declined to detail the severity or the nature of the injury or say how long Brassard might be out.
After Nash and the Kings’ Michal Hanzus failed to score in the shootout, Quick stopped Matt Calvert with a poke check.
”He kind of had his head down,” Quick said. ”He was taking his time, so I saw an opportunity to jump on it. It’s pretty much a hit-or-miss play.”
Stoll then swooped in on Garon and scored with a no-frills move high on the stick side.
”I’ve seen so many people deke him and deke him,” said Stoll, who played with Garon for a season in Edmonton. ”He’s so athletic and moves post to post really well. I was not deking, that’s for sure. I just wanted to get a shot away and make him back up and open some net and I found some corner.”
Quick ended the game with a pad save against Kristian Huselius.
The Kings were running out the clock when Quick gave up a rebound on Voracek’s shot. Russell backhanded the puck in while skating backward to the left of the net.
Doughty broke a 2-2 tie earlier in the third period when he scored off a one-timer from the blue line.
The Blue Jackets, who fought back from 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2 deficits, were happy to get to overtime.
”It’s big to get the point,” Nash said. ”It shows how much character we have. We fought through a little adversity. With the lines getting mixed up like that it’s tough to keep a flow. It’s a good point.”
NOTES: Columbus LW Ethan Moreau was activated from the injured list after missing 16 games with a rib injury. … Kings C Anze Kopitar extended his point streak to three games. … The Blue Jackets had almost two minutes of a 5-on-3 advantage at the end of the second period and start of the third, but couldn’t convert.