Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson scored for the Kings and Jonathan Quick made xx saves in a 2-1 victory Sunday afternoon over the Minnesota Wild at Staples Center. The Kings won their second in a row when getting widely outshot. The Wild outshot the Kings 41-16, after the St. Louis Blues outshot them 43-18 on Thursday. Matt Cooke scored the Wild’s only goal, cutting the Kings’ lead to 2-1 in the third period.
First, the Kings power play clicked only once in 18 chances over five games to start the season for a paltry 5.6 percent success rate that ranked them 25th among the NHL’s 30 teams. That’s not very good, especially when you look at their company at the bottom of the rankings. The Colorado Avalanche were 26th (4.6 percent) followed by the New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild and Winnipeg Jets (0.0 percent). Shudder. That’s not select company, by any means.
Second, the Kings won their third consecutive game with a 1-0 shootout victory Thursday over the St. Louis Blues, after starting the season with losses to the San Jose Sharks and the Arizona Coyotes. Goaltender Jonathan Quick recorded his 32nd career shutout, tying him with Rogie Vachon for the franchise record. Quick also improved to 37-22 in shootouts, having stopped all but 61 of 209 shots. Jeff Carter had his three-game points streak (three goals, two assists) stopped Thursday, but scored the only goal in the shootout.
Third, Minnesota goalie Darcy Kuemper, who gave up his first goals of the season in a 2-1 loss Friday to the Ducks after consecutive shutouts of the Colorado Avalanche, won’t play today. Niklas Backstrom is scheduled to start for the Wild (2-1-0). Jason Zucker, a Newport Beach native, scored Minnesota’s lone goal Friday.
Jonathan Quick recorded a shutout after making 43 saves in the Kings’ 1-0 shootout victory Thursday over the St. Louis Blues. It turns out he tied Kelly Hrudey for the second-most saves in a shutout in Kings history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, which keeps track of these things. Quick holds the record for the most saves in a Kings shutout with 51 in a 5-0 blanking of the Detroit Red Wings on Dec. 13, 2010. Quick’s victory was his 37th in a shootout, fourth-most among active goalies. He is 37-22 in shootouts and has stopped all but 61 attempts in 209 shots.
Here are the first few paragraphs of Thursday’s game story:
The Kings stole a game Thursday night at Staples Center. They reached into the St. Louis Blues’ pockets and swiped a 1-0 victory in a shootout that might have eluded them if not for a bounce here or there or a shot here or there or any number of reasons.
They committed robbery and presented goaltending Jonathan Quick with his 32nd career shutout, tying him with Rogie Vachon for the franchise record. Or more to the point, Quick helped them extend their winning streak to three in a row with a flawless performance.
“It’s nice, obviously,” Quick said of matching Vachon’s shutout mark. “It’s humbling to be put into that category. At the same time, it’s a team effort. It takes 20 guys. It’ll be my name that goes next to the shutout, but it’s 100 percent the group that went out there today.”
Kings center Jeff Carter scored the only goal in a shootout, after Quick stopped all 43 shots he faced in 60 minutes of regulation play plus a five-minute overtime period. Blues goalie Brian Elliott faced only 18 shots, but couldn’t stop Carter, the first shooter in a three-round shootout.
Here are three things that stood out:
First, that Quick guy can play a little bit. He he was under siege for extended periods and still blanked the Blues. He even showed a little fire when he got into a scrap with the Blues’ Alexander Steen and was penalized for roughing in the second period. Above all, he denied the Blues in a three-round shootout.
Second, the Blues remain a difficult team for the Kings to play. The teams play similar styles, keeping each other at arm’s length. There aren’t a lot of scoring chances in most games between the teams. The Blues were the more dangerous team with the puck Thursday, however. “They’ve obviously got a recipe for success and have two Cups in the last three years to prove it,” Blues captain David Backes said. “That being said, we’ve got our own personnel and strengths to produce wins.”
Third, the Kings’ power play unit isn’t very good. The Kings went 0 for 4 with the man-advantage and are 1 for 18 in five games to start the season. That’s a discouraging sign for a team whose struggles to score while skating at even strength are well known. Power play goals take off the pressure, creating a comfort zone that enables a team to rely on its special teams to score goals at key points in games. It’s not as if scoring power-play goals is an easy trick, it’s simply an easier way to score.
Kings rookie forward Andy Andreoff hit the ice for his NHL debut and then his gloves and stick followed in short order as he tangled with Matt Hendricks of the Edmonton Oilers on his first shift Tuesday night at Staples Center.
“I tried to get the jitters out in the first-period fight,” said Andreoff, who played 12 minutes, 16 seconds in the Kings’ 6-1 victory over the overmatched Oilers. “I got a couple of hits there. I saw Hendricks there and I asked him to fight and I’m kind of happy that he dropped the gloves with me.”
The Kings took another bold step toward solidifying their future when they signed defenseman Jake Muzzin to a five-year, $20-million contract extension Wednesday. Muzzin, 25, formed a strong defense pair with perennial Norris Trophy candidate Drew Doughty and joins a growing list of Kings with long-term contracts.
Muzzin signed with the Kings as a free agent on Jan. 4, 2010, and after an apprenticeship with the team’s American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., emerged as a very useful player. He has 41 points, including 12 goals, in 132 career games with the Kings. He also played in all 26 playoff games last season and recorded 12 points, including six goals, as the Kings won their second Stanley Cup championship in three seasons. He was the leading goal-scorer among defensemen in the playoffs.
Muzzin’s new contract will keep him in a Kings uniform through the 2019-20 season. He hasn’t made his season debut after suffering an upper-body injury before the team’s season-opening game Oct. 8. His status for Thursday’s game against the St. Louis Blues is uncertain. He said earlier this week there was no timetable for his debut.
Here are my first few paragraphs from Tuesday’s game story:
“The Kings didn’t actually score on every shift of Tuesday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers at Staples Center. It only seemed like it. The Kings didn’t create a scoring on every dash down the ice against the hopelessly overmatched Oilers. It only appeared to be the case.
“There will be nights when the puck doesn’t settle into the back of the net as easily or as often as it did during the Kings’ 6-1 rout of the Oilers. Defending their Stanley Cup championship certainly will be more difficult than it was Tuesday, when the Kings seemed to be skating downhill.
“After all, the St. Louis Blues visit Staples Center on Thursday.
“The Blues are one of the NHL’s elite teams.
“Clearly, the Oilers are not.”
Here are three thoughts about the Kings’ blowout victory:
First, that Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli line continues to roll. Pearson had two goals and an assist. Carter scored a goal and added an assist and Toffoli had a goal and an assist. Pearson has a team-leading four goals, Carter has three and Toffoli has two for the Kings, who have scored 12 in four games to start the season.
Second, Darryl Sutter said he would rather had gotten “the cob” for goalie Jonathan Quick than win his 100th game as the Kings coach. Cob? Well, it’s a folksy term for shutout since an ear of corn looks like a zero if you turn it the right way. Have we mentioned Sutter is a farmer back home in Viking, Alberta?
Third, the Oilers are a poor team and weren’t very competitive, which marked the second consecutive pushover the Kings faced, including their 4-1 rout of the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday. Things get tougher with the arrival of the St. Louis Blues on Thursday. The Blues will hit back. They will score and play with the sort of grit and determination that you would expect from a team that believes it can make a deep playoff run. Don’t expect a third straight one-sided result in the Kings’ favor, in other words.
Trevor Lewis, who was injured in the Kings’ season-opening loss to the San Jose Sharks, was placed on the injured reserve list Tuesday because of an upper-body injury. The move is retroactive to Oct. 8, which was when Lewis was hurt. He played 10 minutes, 29 seconds and recorded a team-leading six shots on net in the Kings’ 4-0 loss to the Sharks. He hasn’t skated with the team since and has missed three games.
Rookie center Andy Andreoff is expected to make his NHL debut Tuesday, with the Kings playing against the Edmonton Oilers at Staples Center without the services of injured veteran forwards Marian Gaborik and Trevor Lewis. Andreoff skated on a rugged-looking line with wingers Kyle Clifford and Jordan Nolan.
Said Andreoff: “Obviously, I’m going to be a little nervous for my first NHL game. It helps a lot with the guys on the team. Everyone’s really close. Everyone’s gone though it, so you’ve just got to get the jitters out in the first shift with a big hit or a simple play. I’m looking forward to it. I played with them in Vegas (in an exhibition game), so we have a little chemistry. They work hard in the corners. I’m looking forward to playing with them.”
Andreoff said several family members would attend the game.
“They’ve been here for a week now,” he said. “It’s definitely nice for them to be here for my first NHL game. They’ve always been supporting me my whole life. It’ll be nice to be celebrating my first game with them. My mom, sister and brother-in-law. You’ve been dreaming about this your life, playing in the driveway, a little road hockey with your buddies, so it’s great to be in such a great organization for your first NHL team. Just practicing with them in the playoffs and watching them and learning all the little things they do to win a Stanley Cup, so I’m happy to be part of this team this year.
“I’m sure my family and and friends will be watching me. They’ve supported my through my whole career. I’m really close with all of them. I’m sure I’ll be getting a bunch of messages after the game.”
Andreoff also said the Kings’ veteran players have been very supportive.
“They’ve all been through it, especially the older guys,” he said. “They’ve given me a heads-up and put me under their wing. That’s why, I guess, they’re such a good team, because they’re all really close.”
Marian Gaborik didn’t participate in the Kings’ morning skate and couldn’t play Tuesday against the Edmonton Oilers because of an unspecified injury that also prevented him from playing in several games during the preseason. Gaborik recorded an assist for his first point of the season and played 15:56 in the Kings’ victory Sunday over Winnipeg. Kings coach Darryl Sutter, as is his custom, declined to speak about Gaborik’s injury. The Kings were already without forward Trevor Lewis and defenseman Jake Muzzin because of injuries. There is no timetable for either player to return to the lineup, and it’s unclear how long Gaborik might be out. Or how he aggravated the injury.
The Kings’ lines looked like this at the morning skate:
Justin Williams, Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards
Dwight King, Jarret Stoll, Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli
Kyle Clifford Andy Andreoff, Jordan Nolan
Their defense pairs were unchanged.
Jonathan Quick was first off the ice, so he’s your starter.