The Kings finished their seven-game homestand on a high Thursday, getting third-period goals from Jarome Iginla and Adrian Kempe and a 26-save shutout from Jonathan Quick in a 2-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Now they head out on a two-game, 24-hour road trip to Alberta, where playoff contenders Calgary and Edmonton will be trying to block their narrow path to the postseason.
Here are some of the takeaways from Thursday’s win:
1. Quick owns the Sabres
Thursday’s shutout was the first of an injury-interrupted season for the Kings’ goalie. But the fact it came against Buffalo should be no surprise.
The shutout was Quick’s third in eight games against the Sabres, whose last four games at the Staples Center have all ended in 2-0 losses. Buffalo hasn’t scored a road goal against the Kings in more than 263 minutes, dating to January 2010.
“I thought Quickie was great tonight,” said Iginla, who scored the first goal.
Thursday wasn’t the first time he’s been great. Since returning from a groin injury last month, Quick is 5-1-1 with a .927 save percentage and a 1.97 goals-against average.
2. Kings are a team for (all) the ages
Iginla opened the scoring 36 seconds in the third period and Kempe ended it 14 minutes later. Iginla, 39, is playing in his 20th NHL season. Kempe, 20, was playing in his 14th NHL game.
“The oldest player on our team scored a goal and the youngest player scored a goal. Hopefully, in between, we can flip a little bit around and somebody else will score next game,” Kings Coach Darryl Sutter observed.
“We’re a team that was trying to get more speed in our lineup,” he continued, referencing Kempe’s call-up from the minors last month. “He’s 20 years old. I’m not going to get too philosophical but he’s got a lot to learn about the game.”
3. The Kings won with smarts
As good as Quick was, Sutter said the game was won by staying out of the penalty box. Buffalo has the league’s best power play, one that has scored 28% of the team’s goals this season. So the Kings were disciplined, taking just two minor penalties and allowing the Sabres just two power-play chances.
And the Kings killed both, giving them 58 penalties killed in 62 chances over the last 24 games, best in the league.
“The difference in the game was … we did a good job against the top power play in the league,” Sutter said.
4. There’s still a (narrow) path to the postseason for the Kings
The Kings remain in the playoff chase with 12 games remaining, trailing St. Louis by four points and Calgary by seven in the race for the Western Conference’s two wild-card spots.
The Kings play six of their final 12 games on the road but they face Calgary three times, beginning Sunday in Alberta. That gives them a chance to make up six of those seven points head-to-head. But they’ll have to get on a roll, something they haven’t been able to do lately. In fact, the Kings have won two consecutive games just once since Feb. 4, going 7-8-3 since then.
“It’s that time of year. You’ve just got to find ways to grind points away,” said forward Dustin Brown, who broke a monthlong string without an assist by helping on both goals Thursday, giving him 501 points in his career.