The mystery known as Keith Kinkaid was finally solved.
Yes, the Kings were finally able to get one past the understudy goaltender, the guy who shut them out last month in Newark, N.J. But only one on Saturday night, as the New Jersey Devils beat the Kings, 2-1, in overtime at Staples Center.
Devils defenseman John Moore decided the issue with 16 seconds remaining in overtime, circling behind the net with Kings defenseman Alec Martinez in pursuit, and managed to find enough room to beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick to the short side. Of Moore's four goals this season, three have been game-winners.
“Originally, I thought I had enough speed that I could wrap it, but he got over really quickly, so I looked in the slot to [Kyle] Palmieri coming down,” Moore said. “Then I noticed out of the corner of my eye that he [Quick] kind of cheated off the near-side post, so I just tried to throw it quick there and fortunately, it went in.”
The intensity had been escalating as the third period went along, and into overtime.
Quick denied Devils forward Adam Henrique's breakaway bid with just under a minute left in overtime. Kings forward Dustin Brown could have ended it with about two minutes remaining in regulation but his scoring bid went off the crossbar.
“We didn't have a very good first [period] and we were kind of battling to get back in it against a team that doesn't give up much,” said Brown. “We got a point out of it, but we lost a point because of our first period, nothing else.
“I just don't think we were ready to start. We just had a continuation of the third period against Washington [in which they gave up three goals] that kind of seeped into our game tonight. We were just chasing, we had to grind out a goal in the second. We had our chances — but we have to start on time.”
Kinkaid has now stopped 49 of 50 shots in two games against the Kings.
His first career shutout came against the Kings on Feb. 14, a 1-0 effort in which the Devils scored an early power-play goal and went into shut-down mode. His second career shutout came on Thursday at San Jose.
The Devils scored 1:12 into the game — the fastest goal the Kings have allowed this season — when Tyler Kennedy produced his third goal of the season and first since Feb. 23.
Kings center Anze Kopitar tied it, 1-1, at 14:36 of the second period on a broken play, starting with a rebound off the end boards off a shot from Martinez. For Kopitar, it was his 21st goal of the season and third in five games.
The Kings lead the Ducks by two points in the Pacific Division and are three up on the third-place Sharks, which beat Washington on Saturday night.
“They're a stingy team,” Brown said of the Devils. “They don't give up a lot. You've got to work for it.”
Seeing the Devils always brings back memories of the Kings' championship breakthrough in 2012, when they beat New Jersey in a six-game Stanley Cup Final. Unlike the Kings, who have been a model of stability since winning their first of two championships in a three-year span, the Devils have undergone massive changes.
Gone are Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise, their two most dynamic scorers, as well as future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur, and coach Peter DeBoer, who this season has helped resurrect a flagging San Jose program.
Kovalchuk left to play in Russia; Parise departed as a free agent so he could play in his home state of Minnesota; and Brodeur eventually retired and joined the St. Louis Blues' front office.