All it takes is one save to make a career. Exaggeration? Maybe, but it’s one save repeatedly made, a great one, that has made Jonathan Quick the hero of the LA Kings nation. Monday night, he did it once more. Here’s the setup.
The Bruins were in town after having been defeated by Anaheim Monday evening. The Kings were coming off a 4-1 loss to Chicago on Saturday night. In their lineup was Alec Martinez, out since mid-November with a finger issue. That made the defense Greene, McNabb, Muzzin, Doughty, Martinez, and Regehr, a stout lineup, and they had to be, because the game never got off its 1-0 score until the very end, when an empty netter was scored.
Who got that one? Tyler Toffoli. Who had the earlier marker? Tanner Pearson. This is not what you think. These kids, who played together so long (if that’s a way to describe last year’s playoffs and the start of this season) with Jeff Carter, were split up. Toffoli was with Kopitar and Carter. Pearson was trio’d with King and Richards. This to try to prompt some offense. It did, obviously.
Kopitar commented after the game on the game, his new line, and on the goal. “We got going right away. Drew a couple of penalties early and got to move the puck on the power play, which is nice. Put them on their heels a little bit.” He added, “I had the puck behind the net and both of our D came down, ready to fire, and I think it was Brayden [McNabb] that I gave it to. His shot got blocked, and the first thought I actually had was I saw the guy above me, their guy, ready for a breakaway, and I saw nobody was really picking up the puck, so I just picked it up and I looked around to see what was out there.” When asked then why his first inclination was to pass, he said, “That’s why I passed it,” with the referent to “that” being the fact that the goalie was going down at the time.
But it was the defense and goaltending which made that stand up. That single-goal lead was most seriously challenged three times. Once a pass went back to Chris Kelly. Quick flashed out a leg. This was in period two. Then in the third, a rebound came to Torey Krug at the left side of the net. He took a slapshot. Quick was down. He dove over and got a glove on it. It then hit his body and the post. No goal.
The third chance was on Daniel Paille, who had a chance on a rebound and ended up putting it wide. Not a save, but Quick was either in the B’s heads or in the right spot in the net to make it impossible for the Bruin player to do otherwise than blow the chance.
So how’s that Terry Murray method working? What’s that, you ask? It the method of scoring just the one goal and then letting Quick get the shutout. Works every time you do it. Hard to do.
The Kings played a tight game, but still allowed 31 shots. They took 35, though the margin was higher in their favor mid-game. Closer to two-to-one. They also blocked nine and saw the Bruins miss 17. How inaccurate do the Bruins’ shooters tend to be? As inaccurate as the other team forces them to be. They, by contrast, blocked 14 and saw the Kings miss 14 on the night.
It was an exciting game, if you like defensive battles, but Quick was unimpressed with his work, as usual. In describing the Krug save, he said, “In the lead-up, there was a scrum to my left. I could of swore I heard a whistle. So the puck kind of squirted out and I thought I heard a whistle, so I didn’t really move at first, and then he was lining up with some purpose, so I thought I’d get over there, and the puck just kind of hit me.” He didn’t realize that it had gone off the post after it hit him.
With every shutout, he distances himself from Rogie Vachon, who held the team record for years with 32. Quick now has 34, including three this year in 20 games. He’s on pace to reach his single-season best, 10 in 69 games, set in 2011-12. He was named first star of the game.
Daryl Sutter didn’t have a ton to say after the game, but he did comment that “both Tanner and Tyler scored a goal tonight,” as a way to suggest that the new line combos were good. He added, that “the line [Pearson’s] had a lot of opportunities, but that’s what they’ve got to do.”