Marian Gaborik made quite a statement when he chased down a routine dump-in from Kings teammate Justin Williams in Thursday’s game against the Washington Capitals. His hustle negated an icing call and he out-foxed Capitals defenseman John Carlson. Gaborik wasn’t content, however. He then whipped a pass to a hard-charging Anze Kopitar, who beat goalie Jaroslav Halak with a quick shot.
It was a tidy summary on the reasons the Kings acquired Gaborik from the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 5 for ineffective forward Matt Frattin, a second-round pick either this year or next plus a conditional third-round selection. They needed a more dynamic offensive presence and GM Dean Lombardi had targeted Gaborik for quite some time. He liked his speed, his skill and his knack for making plays, all of which the Kings seemed to lack in great numbers.
So, how has the trade worked for the Kings? Gaborik has two goals and two assists, including one power-play goal and one power-play assist, in seven games in which the Kings have gone 4-3-0. His plus/minus defensive rating is minus-1. He has 23 shots on goal and has played an average of 18 minutes, 2 seconds. Above all, he’s proved to be another offensive weapon for a team with an anemic offense. It will be interesting to see if he continues to click with Kopitar, and why wouldn’t he?
The Kings made a little history for goaltender Jonathan Quick and coach Darryl Sutter with a 2-1 shootout victory Thursday night over the Washington Capitals. Quick earned his 171st victory, tying Rogie Vachon’s franchise record, and Sutter won his 500th game as an NHL coach, matching Toe Blake for 17th on the NHL list.
“To be honest, I did not know I was that close until a couple of games ago and somebody brought it up,” Quick said. “It’s special and, obviously, wins are a team effort, so I think that makes it a little more special because it’s 20 guys contributing toward the win. Obviously, if it was not for the shootout, I would be another season behind (Vachon). He didn’t have the luxury of the shootout, so in my mind, I’m still chasing him.”
Said Sutter when asked what the milestone meant to him: “A lot. I’ve been around a long time. Kind of odd in the shootout, though.”
The Kings are among the NHL’s leading teams in shots on goal, averaging 31.5 going into Thursday’s game against the Washington Capitals. That’s seventh-best in the 30-team league. However, they are averaging only 2.35 goals, ranking 27th in scoring average per game. What’s more, their winning percentage of .488 when outshooting the opposition is only 17th in the league.
Now for the good news: the Kings are outshooting the opposition by an average of 5.1 shots per game (31.5 to 26.4). That’s third-best in the league behind the San Jose Sharks (7.1 differential) and the Chicago Blackhawks (6.0). The Sharks and Blackhawks are well ahead of the Kings in the standings, however.The Sharks led the Kings by 15 points and the Blackhawks were up by 13 going into Thursday.
Thanks to NBC Sports Twitter feed for stats help.
Here’s one reason for the Kings’ three-game losing streak to start their five-game homestand: zero third-period goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Ducks and the Phoenix Coyotes. The Kings’ scoring woes are renowned, but their lack of punch late in in games has been especially harmful in recent contests. Each of their three consecutive losses has been by one goal. The Kings’ defense is the best in the NHL, giving up a puny average of 2.09 goals per game. But their offense is ranked 28th out of 30 teams in the league, averaging 2.35 goals per game. The teams behind them, the Vancouver Canucks (2.32 goals per game) and Buffalo Sabres (1.84) are headed for early vacations when the regular season ends April 13. The Kings are hopeful of another long playoff run.
The Kings held a 3-2 lead going into the third period Monday night against the Phoenix Coyotes, but ended up losing 4-3 after giving up a pair of final-period goals. The Kings were 21-0-0 while leading after two periods this season, a fine record before the Coyotes rallied to win Monday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time the Kings coughed up a lead going into the third period since Dec. 1, 2008 against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Kings led that game 1-0 after two periods, but the Maple Leafs scored three times in the third to win.
The Kings coughed up a lead in the third period for the first time this season. They led the Phoenix Coyotes 3-2 going into the third period Monday night at Staples Center, but gave up two goals en route to a 4-3 loss. Goaltender Jonathan Quick wasn’t sharp at the start or the finish and blamed himself for the defeat.
“I thought they were desperate the whole game,” Quick said. “That’s the time of year it is. Everybody’s playing desperate. I thought we played well enough. I don’t think I played well enough. You give up four goals, you’re going to lose games. I’ve got to be better.”
Asked what he viewed as the game’s turning point, Quick said, “Four goals against.”
Kings coach Darryl Sutter defended Quick, who made 23 saves.
“Quite honest, the score should have been quite higher both ways, if you look at mistakes that were made and the big saves the goalies had to make,” Sutter said, referring to Quick and Mike Smith of the Coyotes.
Kings captain Dustin Brown and goaltender Jonathan Quick sat out of practice Friday and their status for Saturday’s game against the Ducks was uncertain. Brown played only a little more than 10 minutes during the Kings’ loss Thursday to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Quick played his customary standout game, stopping 26 shots in a 3-2 loss. Coach Darryl Sutter was unsure whether Brown or Quick could play against the Ducks. Martin Jones would start in Quick’s place if needed.
It’s no secret Kings captain Dustin Brown has struggled this season, but coach Darryl Sutter took the rather dramatic step Thursday of benching the left wing during a 3-2 home loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Asked if Brown was injured, which might account for the fact that he played only 10 minutes, 12 seconds, Sutter said, “No, he got benched. The line was tired, so they din’t play that much.”
Brown was unavailable for immediate comment.
There were times over the years that it seemed as if Rogie Vachon’s franchise record of 171 victories by a goaltender would never be threatened by another King. The names and faces came and went and Vachon’s mark, set over 389 games between 1971 and ’78, stood the text of time. But now Jonathan Quick is set to tie the mark once thought to be unreachable. Quick can match Vachon with a victory Thursday over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Quick has won 170 games in 323 games, benefiting from far better teams than the ones that played in front of Vachon. Quick also has won a Stanley Cup championship with the Kings in 2012, and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the MVP of the ’12 playoffs. Vachon’s teams never came close to the Stanley Cup Final, but it wasn’t for any shortcomings on his part.