Some notes and quotes from tonight…
— C Anze Kopitar scored an empty-net goal to clinch the victory, and also recorded the 100th assist of his career on LW Kyle Calder’s second-period goal. Saturday’s game was Kopitar’s sixth multi-point game of the season (a team high) and the Kings have a 5-1 record in those games. Kopitar now leads the Kings with 21 points.
— G Jason LaBarbera made 23 saves for his second shutout of the season and the fourth of his career, and he isn’t making it easy for coach Terry Murray to settle on a goalie. G Erik Ersberg made 10 consecutive starts during a recent stretch and played well, but Ersberg has now been pulled from three of his last four starts. LaBarbera relieved Ersberg after the first period Friday and has allowed only one goal in his last five periods. The Kings face Colorado on Tuesday. Both Ersberg and LaBarbera have faced the Avalanche this season, and both lost. LaBarbera allowed four goals and Ersberg allowed three.
— RW Wayne Simmonds scored a second-period goal on his only shot on goal of the game. Simmonds, a 20-year-old rookie, had not scored since his first NHL goal, on Oct. 14 against Anaheim. Over the next 22 games, Simmonds totaled only two assists and, at one point, got dropped to the fourth line. Simmonds was also credited with three hits
— D Kyle Quincey recorded an assist, and has recorded at least one assist in eight of his last nine games.
— Go figure. Friday’s Kings-Edmonton game featured a combined 81 shots on goal — the Oilers outshot the Kings 44-37 — the highest combined total for any Kings game this season. Saturday’s Kings-Columbus game featured a combined 41 shots on goal — the Blue Jackets outshot the Kings 23-18 — the second-lowest combined total for any Kings game this season. The Kings outshot the Blue Jackets 3-2 in the first period.
— The Kings, widely expected to finish at or near the bottom of the Western Conference this season, remain three points out of the final playoff spot in the West, but they’re exceeding expectations and exceeding last season’s pace. Through 26 games, the Kings are playing .500 hockey, with an 11-11-4 record. Last season, the Kings had 22 points (10-14-2) through 26 games.
— Kings LW Patrick O’Sullivan failed on a penalty-shot attempt in the second period. In their franchise history, the Kings have converted 12 of 39 penalty-shot attempts.
KINGS HEAD COACH TERRY MURRAY:
(Re: moving on from last night’s game): “We had quite a review of last night’s game this morning in team meetings. We talked about a lot of stuff. I want them to remember it’s very important to have a real long memory if you want to improve and mature and understand how important the little things are at critical times, and we did it tonight. We kept making plays, kept passing the puck, we were moving our feet right through to the end and that’s the way you have to approach it, it was a good finish.”
(Re: playing a strong even-strength team): “You have to go out and play. We know that Columbus has one of the one top scorers in the game in (Rick) Nash. They’re a big team, they come at you with a lot of speed, and their defense is very active. It was important for us to come back and match their intensity and know that we had to play them every shift.”
KINGS GOALTENDER JASON LABARBERA:
(Re: first period): “That might have been one of the most boring NHL periods I have ever seen. There was nothing going on. Both teams were maybe feeling each other out.”
(Re: game recap) “The first period was pretty dull, but we picked it up in the second and as long as we stick to our game plan we are a good hockey team. Any time we get away from that we get ourselves in trouble. We did a really good job, especially in the third period. We didn’t give up much in the third and the guys did a great job of cycling down low and being strong on their sticks. That’s the difference.”
KINGS FORWARD PATRICK O’SULLIVAN:
(Re: game recap): “The more times we play games and go through different situations it’s going to make our team better. The quicker we are able to figure that out, the quicker we are going to become better. It’s going through that stuff in the game that you learn from.”
“If everything continues to progress like it is, I think we are going to be a top team. It’s hard to say but I think we’ve got a good coach and the ownership and management have a plan for what they want to do and I think there has already been a drastic improvement in the game so far this year as compared to last year.”
(Re: penalty shot) “He’s a left-handed goalie, most of the guys in the league catch with the other hand so I was thinking I was going to go high glove the whole time and I pretty much did what I wanted, I just shot it over the net.”