The Los Angeles Kings were anchored by elite goaltending in each of their last two Stanley Cup-winning seasons.
If their stingy play in goal to begin this season is any indication, the Kings could find themselves vying for hockey’s top prize yet again.
Los Angeles looks to go undefeated on a six-game homestand for the first time in franchise history Sunday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Kings (5-1-1) led the league in 2013-14 with a 2.1 goals-against average on the way to winning their second Cup in three years. Their 2.1 mark two seasons earlier ranked second in the NHL.
They’re allowing 1.4 goals per game this season and have outscored opponents 14-3 during this homestand. Los Angeles’ best record for a six-game homestand out of the 23 in franchise history came in 1990-91, when it had five wins and a tie.
"We talked about it before this homestand – we want to have a strong start," said Anze Kopitar, who scored his second goal in Thursday’s 2-0 win over Buffalo. "It’s a good way to start a season, and we’re doing a fairly good job right now."
Jonathan Quick made 29 saves for his second shutout in three starts and No. 33 for his career, breaking Rogie Vachon’s franchise record. He is 4-0-1 with a 0.97 GAA since stopping 23 shots in a 4-0 loss to San Jose in the opener. Backup Martin Jones was also solid in his lone start, making 29 saves in a 4-1 win against Winnipeg on Oct. 12.
Quick has won his last four starts against the Blue Jackets, and is 5-1-0 with a 1.33 GAA in his last six matchups. The Kings have won 12 of the last 16 meetings.
Los Angeles was playing Thursday without defenseman Slava Voynov for the first time since he was suspended indefinitely after being arrested on suspicion of domestic violence. Jake Muzzin filled in for Voynov in his first game after previously being sidelined by an upper-body injury.
Columbus (4-3-0) had averaged 32.2 shots before recording a season-low 17 in Friday’s 4-1 loss at Anaheim. The Blue Jackets fell behind 2-0 in the first period for the second straight game, though they recovered the previous night for a 5-4 victory in San Jose.
"There’s no reason why we can’t have a better start," said Scott Hartnell, who notched his first goal with Columbus on a first-period power play. "Once again, we had a penalty early and they score on the power play. We seemed flat that first little bit, and it’s something we talked about before the game."
The Ducks’ first two goals came on power plays within the game’s first 8:37. Columbus has allowed three goals on nine power plays after holding teams scoreless on 11 man-advantage chances in its first five contests.
The Kings have killed 17 straight penalties after giving up three goals on eight power-play chances in back-to-back losses to start the season.
Columbus’ Ryan Johansen has at least one point in each game after assisting on Hartnell’s goal. Johansen is among the league’s leaders with 10 points split evenly between goals and assists, though he has two points in seven career games versus Los Angeles.
Mike Richards has two goals and five assists in his last five meetings with Columbus.