KINGS AT OILERS
Faceoff: 6:30 p.m. TV/Radio: Prime, 790-AM
The Kings fell out of the second wild-card spot when they lost in a shootout Monday to the Vancouver Canucks and the Winnipeg Jets defeated the Minnesota Wild. The Kings’ single point moved them into a tie for third place with the Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division, but the Flames hold the tiebreaker with more wins in regulation or overtime 39-37. The Kings also dropped to 2-8 in shootouts and when coupled with a 1-7 mark in overtime it helps to explain why they face another must-win game when they face the long-since eliminated Oilers. The Kings complete the regular season with games Thursday against the Flames in Calgary and Saturday against the San Jose Sharks at Staples Center. Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with 63 points, including 47 assists. Backup goaltender Martin Jones might be called upon to play tonight after Jonathan Quick started Monday. Jones hasn’t started since a Feb. 27 loss to the Ducks and has appeared in only two games in relief since then. The Kings are 39-25-15. Jordan Eberle leads the Oilers (23-43-13) with 62 points (23 goals, 39 assists).
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty had a second consecutive rough game during Saturday’s 4-1 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. He took a key penalty in the third period that led to the go-ahead power-play goal for the Canucks’ Radim Vrbata. He also had a defensive rating of minus-3 in a team-leading 24:54. He also assisted on the Kings’ only goal, a power-play strike by Marian Gaborik in the second period.
Doughty also was a minus-2 in the Kings’ 3-2 overtime loss Wednesday to the Ducks, which was far from his best game of the season. He and Gaborik collided in a defensive breakdown that led to Ryan Kesler’s winning goal in OT. Doughty and Gaborik both went to cover defenseman Hampus Lindholm, leaving Kesler with plenty of open ice to set and fire a shot from low in the right faceoff circle past Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick.
Overall, Doughty’s plus-minus rating has dipped to plus-1.
Jonathan Quick made 20 saves in the Kings’ 1-0 victory Tuesday over the Detroit Red Wings at Staples Center for his fourth shutout of the season and the 35th of his stellar career. He and the Kings won for the eighth consecutive game. His longest winning streak is nine games set in 2009-10. His goals-against average is 1.63 during his streak, and his save percentage is .940.
“It just feels like some nights you see the saves he makes and you think he isn’t going to let anyone score tonight,” Kings winger Justin Williams said of Quick’s play. “He’s been a rock throughout this win streak, and he will continue to be.”
Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick was 3-0-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average and a .959 save percentage in three victories last week, earning the NHL’s first star honors. He made 31 saves in the Kings’ victory Saturday over the San Jose Sharks in the Stadium Series game at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. The Kings (28-18-12, third in the Pacific) have won seven consecutive games and moved into a playoff position. Improved goaltending and defensive play have been the keys to the Kings’ surge. Quick’s goals-against average during the streak is 1.86 and his save percentage is .934. Overall, he is 24-15-10 with a 2.43 goals-against average and a .913 save percentage in 50 games.
KINGS AT PANTHERS
Faceoff: 4:30 p.m. TV/Radio: FSW, 790-AM
Two games, two losses, one goal. The Kings’ five-game trip started with a whimper instead of a bang and the reigning Stanley Cup champions awoke Wednesday to find themselves in 12th place in the Western Conference and out of the playoff picture. Their 5-11-6 road record, which includes a 1-6-2 mark since Dec. 11, is partly to blame for a lackluster 21-17-12 overall record. The Kings are 15-16-11 since starting the season 6-1-1. Goalie Jonathan Quick, the MVP of the playoffs during the Kings’ first run to the Stanley Cup in 2012, is 17-14-10 with a 2.51 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. Kings captain Dustin Brown called for more emotion from his teammates after a 4-0 loss Tuesday to the Capitals in Washington, which followed a 3-1 defeat Saturday to the Bruins in Boston. Florida is 22-17-10. The Panthers on Thursday recalled defenseman Steven Kampfer from San Antonio of the AHL.
Backup goaltender Martin Jones suffered from back spasms so severe he was unable to dress for the Kings’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Ducks on Saturday. J.F. Berube was summoned from the Kings’ American Hockey League team in Manchester, N.H., earlier in the day and he was Jonathan Quick’s backup. Jones’ ailment isn’t expected to sideline him for long, although his availability for Monday’s game against the Calgary Flames was not immediately certain.
Martin Jones earned a second consecutive start in goal for the Kings after shutting out the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-0 on Monday. He hadn’t started for a month, since a 6-2 loss Dec. 12 to the Montreal Canadiens, but was razor sharp against the Maple Leafs. His only other appearance was a relief stint after Kings coach Darryl Sutter pulled Jonathan Quick after three goals on nine shots Dec. 3 against the Nashville Predators. Jones gave up four goals in a 7-6 overtime loss to the Predators.
“He hadn’t played in a month, so I don’t know if he bounced back,” Sutter said of Jones. “We need both our goalies to win games. That’s all we’re doing. We want to give Quick a chance to get six or more days between games, and we need our other goalie to win games. It’s not bounce back. It’s either you win or you lose. If we had won the other night, then Quick would have played tonight.” Got it? Good.
Goalie Jonathan Quick has started 12 consecutive games for the Kings. (Photo by John McCoy Daily News)
Backup goaltender Martin Jones, who last started a game Dec. 12 against the Canadiens in Montreal and who has played only once since then, will be in the Kings’ lineup Monday night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Jones relieved Jonathan Quick in the Kings’ 7-6 loss overtime to the Nashville Predators on Jan. 3. He also saved only 14 of 20 shots in a 6-2 loss Dec. 12 to the Canadiens.
Jonathan Quick started 12 consecutive games.
How’s this for a head-scratcher: the Kings, winners of two Stanley Cup championships in three seasons, are still an absolute bust in Buffalo. The Sabres’ 1-0 victory Tuesday over the Kings gave them a 12-1-1 record in upstate New York, dating to a 2-0 victory for Buffalo on Dec. 17, 1993. The Sabres have outscored the Kings by a stunning 59-21 margin on home ice during that stretch. The Kings’ last victory in Buffalo was a 4-1 decision Feb. 21, 2003. The Kings have lost six in a row since then and have been outscored 31-8. Granted the Sabres were pretty good during part of that stretch, but that’s a remarkable streak of futility for the Kings.
Thanks to the Sabres’ media relations department for the facts and figures.