LOS ANGELES — The new-look Kings turned into the no-look Kings when Anze Kopitar’s no-look pass was slapped into the net for a game-winning power play goal, Monday night at the Staples Center.
The goal gave the Kings a 2-1 win over the Habs and solidified the teams’ status as one of the hottest in the league. It was their fifth-straight win and the first defeat of Montreal at home since 2003.
It was also the first time since the 2000-01 season Los Angeles has swept Montreal in a multi-game series.
Don’t look now, but the Kings have continued to show improvement in nearly all facets of the their game since the Olympic break and are in prime position in the prime of the season.
"It was a good win. It’s a tough team and it was a good win," said head coach Darryl Sutter. "It was a well-played game, we had good work with special teams, good work five-on-five, and both teams probably said the same thing. We had a lot of good plays tonight."
The winning goal came on the power play for the second-straight game when Kopitar sent a beautiful no-look, backhanded pass to Carter for the sharp-angle slapshot. The Habs blocked 16 shots but the Kings stayed persistent and took advantage of the few opportunities they had.
"It was awesome to see that when Jeff finished it off there," said forward Justin Williams. "He got us a big game-winner and the power play has gotten us three game-winners since we’ve been back from break so we’re scoring at the right time."
Jonathan Quick stopped 17 of 18 shots that he faced with the Canadiens only netting one fluke of a goal. Quick knocked P.K. Subban’s first-period shot away only to have it bounce off the skate of defenseman Robyn Regehr and into the net.
It was Quick’s first-ever win over the Habs and the goaltender now has a 1.79 GAA and a .926 save percentage since returning from a groin injury 19 games ago.
"You want to make it as tough as possible for the other team to score and I think we did a great job of that tonight on the penalty kill and five-on-five," Quick said. "We didn’t give up much. We didn’t give up many opportunities. We want to stick to playing that way. It was a big win but we’ve got to move on now."
Defensively, it was a stellar performance from a unit that is already one of the best in the NHL and seems to have gotten stronger in the last four games in particular.
"Tonight we played against the best defensive team in the league, and that showed," said Habs coach Michel Therrien. "They play a solid defensive game, and we ended up losing the battle in special teams."
Still third in the Pacific Division with 76 points and back by eight from San Jose, the Kings aren’t yet thinking about chasing down the Sharks. But it’s the time of the season when each game takes on more meaning and a playoff-like atmosphere begins to appear. Should the Kings continue to play like they have over the last six days they’ll end up cruising into the playoffs instead stumbling, as they did into the break.
"Every time we win I’m thrilled, points are hard to come by," Sutter said. "We’re consistent, we have a good road record and we have a good home record, we’re consistent. Consistent is not from a team standpoint, consistent is from an individual standpoint, which is hard to do."