Kings rookie G Jones blanks Oilers for third shutout in five games
Martin Jones’ charmed NHL career just keeps getting more surreal with every save, every win and every shutout in his rapidly growing collection.
Jones made 24 saves for his third shutout in five games, and the remarkable rookie led the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday night.
Dwight King and Jordan Nolan scored during another dominant night for Jones, who became the first goalie in Kings history to begin his career with six consecutive victories. Edmonton is only the latest team that couldn’t solve Jones, who has allowed just five goals in his six games.
Even Jones seems a bit bewildered by his phenomenal success, but he’s trying to stay focused on each frustrated opponent instead of his overall accomplishments.
"I want to make sure I’m focused and prepared for the games, but also have some fun as well," Jones said. "My job is to work hard in practice and be ready to play when called upon."
Dustin Brown added an empty-net goal for the Kings, who have won seven of eight while taking just two regulation losses in 20 games since Nov. 2 (14-2-4).
Jones made a handful of stunning saves in another defense-dominated night for the Kings, whose 68 goals allowed are the fewest in the NHL. The 23-year-old undrafted rookie who seemed likely to spend a fourth year in the AHL this winter instead has the NHL’s best save percentage (.972) and goals-against average (0.82) while sharing the league lead in shutouts with seven other goalies — including teammate Ben Scrivens.
"These guys have been unbelievable in front of me, the way they pick up sticks and clear the net," Jones said. "They do a great job helping me out."
Ilya Bryzgalov stopped 37 shots for the last-place Oilers, who have lost four straight. Bryzgalov almost matched Jones as Los Angeles handily outshot the Oilers, but key defensive breakdowns by his young teammates cost him.
"I thought we had the puck in our right skilled players’ hands to generate chances, and we couldn’t score," Edmonton coach Dallas Eakins said. "Usually the problems with our team have been turnovers or some defensive zone lapse, but that just wasn’t the case tonight."
The Kings had to go right back to work after sweeping through eastern Canada on a four-game road trip last week, posting convincing victories on every stop of their showcase in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. Los Angeles lost Sunday in Chicago before returning to Staples Center for its third game in four nights.
"I was impressed with our team tonight because of the tough haul," coach Darryl Sutter said. "It’s been a tough stretch of games, tough travel back with teams waiting for us. You score the one goal and then you’re fighting the whole night."
The Kings got the first period’s only goal when Drew Doughty stickhandled through the Edmonton end before finding King for his ninth goal.
Jones denied Ryan Smyth and Nail Yakupov up close on unguarded chances in the second period. Jones then stopped Taylor Hall on a clean breakaway early in the third when Hall couldn’t get a handle on the puck, and Edmonton didn’t register its first shot on goal until midway through the period.
"Maybe if a couple of bounces go our way and their goalie isn’t as hot as he is, it would be a different game," Hall said. "I thought we showed a lot of really good things. We managed to get out of a tough circumstance a couple of times in the game."
Matt Greene made an exceptional play from in front of the Oilers’ bench, capitalizing on a bad Edmonton change to lob a pass to Nolan for a breakaway goal, his fifth of the season.
Edmonton pulled Bryzgalov after Brown took a penalty in the waning minutes, but the Kings weathered the 6-on-4 disadvantage before Brown emerged from the box at exactly the right time to skate in alone for the 400th point of his career.
High-scoring right wing Ales Hemsky returned to Edmonton’s lineup after missing Sunday’s loss in Anaheim with sore ribs.
NOTES: Edmonton D Corey Potter served the first half of his two-game suspension for boarding Anaheim’s Nick Bonino from behind on Sunday. … Kings D Willie Mitchell missed his second straight game after getting hit by Chris Neil in Ottawa. Mitchell’s absence has coincided with Greene’s return from a 15-game injury absence.