One of the most surprising aspects of the Los Angeles Kings’
solid goaltending during their surge is that Jonathan Quick hasn’t
been in net for any of it.
It’s hardly a shock Carey Price has been the main catalyst for
the Montreal Canadiens’ current run.
Visiting Los Angeles looks to avoid an eighth straight loss to
Montreal while ending the Canadiens’ five-game winning streak
Quick is on injured reserve with a groin injury suffered Nov. 12
in a shootout loss at Buffalo, and he’s not expected to return for
at least a couple more weeks.
Ben Scrivens, who was acquired in the offseason trade that sent
former backup Jonathan Bernier to Toronto, has filled in admirably
since Quick’s injury, going 6-1-3 with a 1.47 goals-against
Rookie Martin Jones has been in goal for the last two contests
while making the first starts of his career, though. He made 26
saves and stopped all nine shootout attempts in a 3-2 win over
Anaheim last Tuesday, then made 16 saves in Saturday’s 3-0 win over
the New York Islanders.
The Kings (19-7-4) are 8-1-3 since Quick went down, with
Scrivens and Jones combining to allow an average of 1.42 goals per
game that is best in the league in that span. Coach Darryl Sutter
didn’t explain the decision to go with Jones in consecutive games,
nor did he say who will be in net against Montreal as the team
begins a four-game road trip.
Los Angeles also plays Wednesday against Toronto.
”It’s been awesome to see both (Scrivens and Jones) come in and
play as well as they have,” said captain Dustin Brown, who has
scored in back-to-back games. ”We have a lot of guys that do the
right thing defensively. All of our team is sticking with it, and
you see the results in games like (Saturday’s).”
The Canadiens (19-9-3) have gotten stellar goaltending as well
during their 9-0-1 run, as Price made 32 saves in Saturday’s 3-2
win over Buffalo. Their 1.90 goals-against per game is second to
Los Angeles during their surge.
Price has won his last seven starts while posting a 1.71 GAA,
and he’s won each of his three career starts against Los Angeles
with a 1.67 GAA.
Montreal hasn’t lost to the Kings since March 8, 2003, and has
won 12 of 13 home meetings dating back to when the Canadiens beat
Los Angeles in Game 2 and the clinching Game 5 of the 1993 Stanley
Extending that run may hinge on Montreal’s fourth line putting
forth another strong effort. Brandon Prust scored, Ryan White had
an assist and Travis Moen had two assists Saturday.
”Those top guys have been carrying a heavy load lately and have
been doing a great job,” Prust said. “We want to contribute when we
can. We were happy to do it.”
Coach Michel Therrien lauded their performance as well.
”They were practically our best trio,” Therrien said. ”They
played a huge part in our team’s victory. They created some scoring
chances with their intensity. They spent a lot of time in the
offensive zone. They certainly were true leaders.”
Goals may come at a premium in this contest. Los Angeles hasn’t
given up more than three in 15 straight, while Montreal hasn’t done
so in 14 consecutive contests.