Anze Kopitar spotted a streaking Drew Doughty 17 seconds into the second period for the only goal of the game, and Jonathan Quick’s 40-save shutout gave the Kings their seventh win in their last nine games (7-0-2).
Credit Wayne Simmonds for starting the scoring sequence by winning a puck battle behind the net with Flyers defenseman Kimmo Timonen. Simmonds fished the puck out to Kopitar in the corner, before Kopitar hit the tape of Doughty’s stick as he skated high to low through the right faceoff circle.
The game delivered on the promise of a plot between a Kings team whose GM, head coach and assistant coach were lifted straight from the Flyers organization. It wasn’t a contrast in styles, but a battle of which team could execute the same system better. On Sunday, it was the Kings by a nose.
Former Flyer Michal Handzus also played a pivotal role during a 20-second-long 5-on-3 penalty kill in the second period. Handzus won the initial offensive-zone faceoff, allowing the Kings to clear the puck once, then ventured high into the offensive zone to clear the puck out again and kill the penalty.
The Flyers could not convert any of their four power plays, mustering two shots over a combined 7:40.
That helped Quick collect his sixth shutout of the season, outdueling Sergei Bobrovsky, who had an excellent 24-save performance of his own.
A few more notes …
If it’s possible to earn a reputation as a big-game goalie in the regular season, Jonathan Quick sure is trying. Arguably his two best games of the season so far have now come on the road in Detroit (a 51-save performance on Dec. 13) and Philadelphia. Daryl Evans and Nick Nickson threw out a couple interesting factoids on the radio: No Kings goalie had shut out the Flyers in Philadelphia since Rogie Vachon in 1973, and Quick has not lost a game (4-0) in which he has faced 40 or more shots this season.
This being a game against the Flyers, there were multiple fights. Kyle Clifford won the punch count in a first-period tussle with Daniel Carcillo. Kevin Westgarth and Jody Shelley dropped gloves in the second, and that one was more evenly matched. There aren’t too many teams in the NHL in which both Clifford and Westgarth are needed in the lineup together, but the Flyers are one.
The fight count doesn’t even take into account the actions of Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger, who probably thought he was boarded by Jarret Stoll at 13:37 of the third period. Pronger retaliated by shoving Stoll a couple times; Stoll wisely didn’t retaliate against the 6-foot-6 defenseman and drew a roughing call. Pronger slammed his stick on the plexiglass upon reaching the penalty box. The Kings could not convert the power play (or their other one, for that matter).
The Kings lost 12 of their first 13 faceoffs and finished 23-35 in the circle (40 percent).
Something else to work on: The Kings were twice penalized for having too many men on the ice.
The Pacific Division standings might have changed by the time you’re reading this. At the time the buzzer sounded in Philadelphia, the Kings (31-22-3) were in fifth place, three points behind first-place Dallas. Insane. The best last-place team in any of the other five divisions is the St. Louis Blues, with 57 points in the Central. In the conference, the Kings are temporarily tied with the eighth-place Minnesota Wild, though the Wild (30-20-5) technically hold the final playoff spot by virtue of having played one less game.
Some more minutiae, courtesy of the Flyers’ PR department:
– The Kings’ last regulation win in Philadelphia has quite a story. On April 1, 1993, the two teams were forced to replay entirely a game that was scheduled for March 13 of that year when a pane of glass shattered on the Spectrum concourse after the first period. The Kings won the replay, 3-1.
– Roman Cechmanek was the sixth and most recent Kings goalie to shut out the Flyers, in a 4-0 victory on Oct. 21, 2003. Rogie Vachon recorded the first.