Turns out Kings goalie Jonathan Quick is as adept at stopping the sentiment as making an athletic save. There were not any fuzzy memories of last season’s Stanley Cup Final against the New York Rangers for him when he took the ice Tuesday night.
“That’s old,” he said, matter-of-factly.
Of course, it’s not advisable to bask in past glories, not when the defending Cup champion Kings are dealing with an uncomfortable present, currently out of a playoff spot, tied with Calgary, with the Flames holding the tiebreaker. Still there are increasingly encouraging signs, the latest being Tuesday’s 4-2 victory against the Rangers at the Garden.
“It’s going to be tight. Everything is pointing toward that,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said. “We just have to worry about what we can control.”
Kopitar did just that, continuing his dynamic play with two more assists, giving him five points in the last two days. Linemate Marian Gaborik scored his 23rd goal of the season, center Jeff Carter scored his 26th and the Kings got offensive production from their defense.
“Kopi’s our best player,” Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said. “How many good teams have a top centerman that’s not a dominant player? I’m telling you: You have to have it.”
Said Gaborik, who put the Kings ahead for good at 4:35 of the second period, making it 2-1: “He’s a dominant player out there. His possession game is great and he’s making plays. He’s good in all three zones. Again, a great pass to me there and a great pass to Muzz.”
Defenseman Robyn Regehr recorded his second goal of the season and defenseman Jake Muzzin his eighth, a career high. It is the first time the Kings have had two goals in a game from the defense since Muzzin and Drew Doughty scored against Edmonton on Dec. 30.
Then there was Quick, who played in games on consecutive nights for the first time since late December. He did not win either of those games, at Calgary or at Edmonton, but he produced back-to-back wins this time.
His workload was considerably heavier than Monday night in New Jersey as he faced 36 shots. The Rangers scored on their first shift of the game as Mats Zuccarello beat Quick only 51 seconds into it.
“I thought we came really well in the first five [minutes] to be honest,” Quick said. “They got a lucky bounce on that first one, that first shift there. That’s the way it goes. We just stuck with it and played our game.”
This was his 64th game of the season and Quick said the location of the two games made the back-to-back situation that much easier.
“It’s not bad here because it’s easy travel,” Quick said. “The East is easy for the most part, a lot of cities are a bus or a train ride. Back-to-back out West is a little tougher because you’re flying a couple hours and you’re changing time zones, stuff like that.
“So it’s a little bit easier out here.”
After the Kings gave up the goal in the first minute, they scored four unanswered goals. It was the first time in 11 games that the Rangers had yielded more than two goals. The Rangers’ Cam Talbot had been in goal for all but one of those games during that stretch.
“We knew that we were going to come out against a desperate team tonight,” Talbot said. “They’re fighting for their playoff lives over there. We jumped on them quick there, but I think after that they kind of turned the table on us.”
Follow Lisa Dillman on Twitter @reallisa