Sound play from a pair of Stanley Cup-winning goaltenders has helped the Los Angeles Kings and Carolina Hurricanes recover from slow starts.
Jonathan Quick seeks to maintain his current form and lead the Kings to a fourth consecutive victory when the Hurricanes visit Staples Center Friday night.
Los Angeles (3-3-0) was outscored 12-2 in losing its first three games, all on home ice. They’ve allowed just three goals during the win streak as Quick and Jhonas Enroth, who made 39 saves in his Kings debut in Thursday’s 4-1 victory at San Jose, have helped trigger the turnaround.
Quick recorded a 3.70 goals-against average in the losses before stopping 47 of 49 shots in consecutive 2-1 wins over Minnesota and Colorado.
Carolina (2-4-0) also opened 0-3 while receiving shaky goaltending from Ward and Eddie Lack, but has since won two of three to begin a season-long seven-game road stretch.
Ward was instrumental to the latest victory, recording 26 saves that included a breakaway stop on Jarome Iginla in overtime, moments before Victor Rask scored the game’s lone goal Wednesday at Colorado. He entered the contest with a 4.00 GAA through his first four starts.
”With 3-on-3 obviously you have to be ready for the scoring chance because they’re going to be coming,” Ward said. ”The way we’ve seen throughout the league, the goaltender has to make a big save and then hopefully you can turn it around and go back the other way. Fortunately we were able to do that.”
Hurricanes coach Bill Peters hasn’t declared whether Ward or Lack will start in Friday’s opener of a back-to-back. Carolina continues the trek Saturday in San Jose.
Lack struggled in his only start, a 4-1 loss to Florida on Oct. 13, but went 2-1-0 with a 1.62 GAA in three against the Kings while with fellow Pacific Division member Vancouver last season.
Whomever gets the call will be facing an improving Los Angeles offense led by Tyler Toffoli, who scored in a third straight game Thursday and owns four of the team’s 10 goals.
Jeff Carter added his first two of the season as part of a four-point night and Milan Lucic contributed his first as a King. Both scored on a power-play unit that was 1 for 21 over the first five games.
”I think it was big for us to come in and prove ourselves. We pretty much had to," Carter said. "This was a big task coming in here. I thought we did a good job.”
The Hurricanes also have struggled in power-play situations, having gone 2 for 25.
Quick is 3-1-0 with a 1.72 GAA in four starts against Carolina, which is aiming for its first win at Los Angeles since Dec. 8, 2005, after posting the franchise’s first in Denver since the Hartford Whalers prevailed in 1996.
The Hurricanes have lost four straight at Staples Center and are 1-6-1 in their last eight visits.
Quick made 25 saves in a 3-2 home win over Carolina on Nov. 20, helping Los Angeles avenge a 3-2 defeat in Raleigh 18 days earlier behind Ward’s 30 saves.