Jarret Stoll’s shootout goal lifted the Kings to another close win on a road trip that is slowly, surely turning their season around.
Since hitting their low point Jan. 20 at 24-22-1, the Kings have gone 8-0-2 – including 5-0-2 to start their 10-game “road trip.”
Stoll slipped a forehand past the blocker of Mathieu Garon and Jonathan Quick made 26 saves, plus three more in the shootout, to preserve the win. Justin Williams scored his team-leading 20th goal of the season, Andrei Loktionov scored his fourth and Drew Doughty scored his eighth. The Kings (32-22-3) never trailed but never pulled away, allowing the Blue Jackets (28-23-6) to answer each of their goals.
“A conference game and both teams are trying to push themselves into the playoffs,” Kings head coach Terry Murray said. “I liked our first period. I thought that was a good start. Then we started to get away from doing the right things in the second period. We were a little too fancy and a little too cute at times. We lost our responsibility in the checking part of the game. It was back and forth and we are going to need to be more focused as we move through the rest of this trip.”
A few more notes:
With 1:29 left in the second period, seven seconds into a Blue Jackets power play, Kings center Trevor Lewis was sent to the penalty box for tripping. Down two men, Quick made a couple great saves, the post made another, and Willie Mitchell got a clear before the second period was over. Columbus scarcely threatened when the power play began again in the third. The Kings haven’t allowed a power-play goal in four straight games, and have only surrendered one in their last nine games.
Credit the Michal Handzus-Anze Kopitar-Wayne Simmonds line for a good cycle shift that made Doughty’s goal happen. All three were strong enough on the puck to draw in the defense and give Doughty ample time and space to wind up with his back skate on the blue line. Simmonds screened Mathieu Garon from ever seeing the puck. It wasn’t their only strong shift, which is good news for Terry Murray.
In the brief history of the NHL’s shootout era, Stoll is in elite company. His 83.3 percent success rate (5-for-6) this season is tied for third all-time.
Quick is approaching shootout history, too. He’s won all seven of his shootout appearances this season, and is working on only the third perfect season ever by a goalie in the shootout with at least five appearances. Kari Lehtonen went 5-0 in shootouts in 2005-06 with Atlanta. Mathieu Garon, Quick’s opponent Wednesday, went 10-0 in 2007-08 with Edmonton.
Quick and Stoll’s success in the shootouts seems trivial (it’s sort of inherent to the word “trivia,” after all). But when you have one of the best shootout snipers in the game, and the best shootout goalie, that’s a lot of 1-point losses that become 2-point wins. Looking at the hypersensitive standings, that doesn’t seem trivial at all.