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.
Reminder: Saturday’s game is early for us on the West Coast. Fox Sports West and KTLK-1150 will carry the game starting at 11 a.m. … The Kings appeared to be in trouble when No. 1 goaltender Jonathan Quick, the MVP of their Stanley Cup championship run in 2012, suffered a groin strain Nov. 12 against the Buffalo Sabres. Nothing could be further from the truth, however.
So, I had all this fine stuff saved up for Ben Scrivens’ return to Toronto, but then came word that he wouldn’t start Wednesday’s game against his old team. Martin Jones would be in the lineup, having recorded victories in his first three NHL games, including back-to-back shutouts. Scrivens talked the other day about enjoying his time with the Maple Leafs, but didn’t think he’d grow misty-eyed at the sight of downtown TO when the team bus cruised down the Gardiner Expressway from Pearson International Airport. He also said he was happy to be a King now.
The Kings departed from LAX on Monday and they moved closer to becoming whole again, with defenseman Matt Greene and forward Trevor Lewis inching toward their respective returns from injured reserve. Goaltender Jonathan Quick is expected to be sidelined until Christmas at the earliest, however.
Left wing Dustin Penner has 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 22 games going into Tuesday’s grudge-match against the Kings at the Honda Center. He is the Ducks’ third-leading scorer behind linemates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, who have 31 and 29 points.
The Kings’ bid for a franchise-record 12th consecutive game with at least one point came to a halt when they lost Saturday to the Calgary Flames. The prevailing thought in the dressing room was simply to “park it,” as defenseman Willie Mitchell phrased it Sunday. In other words, put it out by the curb and walk away from it. The Kings (16-7-4) have issues, starting with their faulty power play. They haven’t scored a man-advantage goal in the last five games, going 0 for 18. Right wing Justin Williams said the Kings need more shots from point-blank range instead of firing them from the perimeter while on the power play.
Williams scored the Kings’ lone goal Saturday, the 200th of his NHL career. Anze Kopitar had an assist for his 500th point. The teams meet for the first time since the Kings defeated the Blues in the first round of the playoffs last spring. The Blues are 18-4-3 and have the league’s second-best power play (22 for 89, 24.7 percent). Alexander Steen was tied with Ryan Getzlaf of the Ducks for third in scoring with 31 points (20 goals, 11 assists), as of Sunday morning. Only Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals (21) had more goals than Steen. Each had played 20 games.
The Kings (16-6-4) tied a franchise record by gaining a point in 11 consecutive games when they pushed the San Jose Sharks to a shootout before falling Wednesday. They are 7-0-4 in their last 11, and according to team historian/radio play-by-play man Nick Nickson, have given up two goals or fewer during that span. They also have taken four straight games to OT or a shootout.
Goaltender Ben Scrivens has a 5-0-3 record and a 1.34 goals-against average with two shutouts, sparking the Kings since No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick suffered a groin strain Nov. 12 that’s expected to keep him out until Christmas. Top-line center Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 23 points (seven goals, 16 assists), and Mike Richards has 20 points (six goals, 14 assists).
The injury-riddled Flames fell to 8-13-4 with a 5-2 loss Friday to the Ducks in Anaheim. T.J. Galiardi (back) Mark Giordano (ankle), Curtis Glencross (knee), Sean Monahan (foot) and Dennis Wideman (hand) are not expected to play tonight for the Flames. Calgary found it impossible to contain the Ducks’ top offensive players, and the Flames won’t have it any easier tonight against the Kings.
The Kings defeated the Vancouver Canucks 3-2 in overtime Monday to extend their points streak to 10 consecutive games (7-0-3), one shy of the franchise record set in 1973-74 and duplicated in 2010-11. Ben Scrivens made 37 saves as the Kings (16-6-3) rallied to win on Mike Richards’ tying goal late in the third and Anze Kopitar’s winning strike in OT. Scrivens is 5-0-3 since No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick suffered a groin injury that’s expected to keep him out until Christmas at the earliest. Jeff Carter returned to the Kings’ lineup Monday after sitting out 10 games because of a foot injury suffered during an OT victory over the Sharks on Oct. 30. Carter assisted on Richards’ goal, his sixth of the season. The Kings activated Carter from the injured-reserve list Monday and placed Quick on IR. Joe Thornton leads the Sharks (15-3-5) with 24 points, including 22 assists. Only the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin, with 23 assists, has more than Thornton through Monday’s games. Kopitar leads the Kings with 23 points, including 16 assists.The Kings haven’t won in San Jose since posting a 4-0 shutout Dec.27, 2010.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty wasn’t exactly looking forward to facing the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night at Staples Center. At the same time, he was looking forward to the challenge of playing against them.
With a victory today, the Kings (13-6-1) can win their third game in a row and take seven out of a possible eight points on their four-game trip to play the Buffalo Sabres, the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and the Rangers.
Dwight King scored the only goal the Kings would need in a 2-0 victory Saturday over the Devils, his sixth in 20 games. Justin Williams leads the Kings with seven goals. King had a strong training camp and Kings coach Darryl Sutter singled him out for praise heading into the regular season. Sutter said King had the best training camp of all the Kings, which had reporters rolling their eyes.
Well, Sutter must have seen something because King has lived up to the coach’s expectations and then some, filling a key role while forwards Jeff Carter (foot), Kyle Clifford (concussion) and Jarret Stoll (upper body) were sidelined by injuries. Stoll returned to the lineup Saturday, but Carter and Clifford are expected to be out for several more games. King has been a steady contributor.
The Rangers were 9-9-0 going into Saturday’s game against the Montreal Canadiens. They handled the Kings during the home-opening game at Staples Center back in October, but have since proved to be the height of mediocrity.