Jonathan Quick versus Roberto Luongo.
That particular goaltending duel was fully understandable, and completely riveting. It served as a potential USA-Canada Olympic preview the other day at Staples Center between the Kings goalie and his Vancouver counterpart
But Quick versus Darcy Kuemper?
On Tuesday, Kuemper was stellar for the Minnesota Wild in goal in what was his ninth career start. The Kings were unable to solve him through the first 40 minutes 50 seconds and he shut them down in overtime and the shootout, leading the injury-riddled Wild to a 2-1 victory at Staples Center.
The Wild's Nino Niederreiter was the only player to score in the shootout, winning it in the fourth round. He scored in regulation and in the shootout against Quick with a clever deke.
Minnesota's No. 3 goalie, Kuemper, who faced a career-high 40 shots on goal, shut down Jeff Carter, Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards and Justin Williams in the shootout. The Kings are 6-3 in shootouts.
The game was scoreless until the third period and then the Kings and Wild traded goals in the first 3 minutes 25 seconds. Kings center Jarret Stoll scored 50 seconds into the third period, his sixth goal, and Niederreiter countered at 3:25, deflecting a slick pass from Jason Pominville.
Stoll's goal was his first since Dec. 23 and the play started deep in the Kings' zone as Dwight King led the rush. Carter circled behind the net and alertly found an open Stoll at the edge of the right circle.
"Obviously, we've got to score goals... got to bear down," Stoll said. "That was just the message, try to finish our opportunities and get to the net and try to make it harder on that goalie. He played well. Give him credit. We just didn't make it hard enough on him."
If Kuemper was stellar in the wake of a consistent barrage, then Quick was steady. Quick had to deal with infrequent spells of action, facing only nine shots through the first two periods, including three in the second period.
This was Quick's second game back since his injury, two games in the span of four days. But the Kings had Sunday off and Quick said Monday after practice that he felt no ill effects from the first game.
Said Kings Coach Darryl Sutter: "Both goalies were pretty good and Quicker didn't have a lot of work but had to make some good saves for us, and the other guy had a lot of work and made a lot of saves."
It has been an eventful stretch for Quick, who was selected to Team USA last week, along with Dustin Brown. Four other Kings players were selected to Olympic teams: center Anze Kopitar (Slovenia), defenseman Slava Voynov (Russia) and defenseman Drew Doughty and forward Carter (Canada) on Tuesday.
Doughty said he was sleeping soundly, so much so that he didn't hear his phone go off early in the morning with the big news. Unlike four years ago when he made the team, Doughty was considered a lock for Team Canada this time around.
He was especially thrilled for Carter, especially after what happened four years ago in Vancouver. Carter would have played if there had been an injury but ended up not participating.
"I was pumped for him. ... We're both two London boys," Doughty said of their hometown in Ontario. "We've known each other since we were young. Just grew up around the corner from each other, so for us to be on the team together is really special. A special time for both our families."
Doughty had some observations about potentially facing some of his Kings teammates in Sochi, Russia. If so, he could be called upon to deliver some intelligence about them.
Said Doughty, smiling: "I'm going to have to, unfortunately. I remember last Olympics we kind of did a rundown of each player on the opposing team. If you played with them, you had to give the weaknesses and strengths of the player. So might have to let them know about Quickie's."
Said Kings Coach Darryl Sutter about Quick's alleged weaknesses: "You have to spend a couple of days trying to figure that one out."
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