NEWARK, N.J. — As Stanley Cup rematches go, this left something to be desired.
On Friday night, the Kings played the New Jersey Devils for the first time in almost 17 months — and it was an uninspiring game until late in the third period, finally decided by Dwight King's goal, his sixth of the season, with less than seven minutes to go in regulation.
King was stationed in front of Devils goaltender Cory Schneider, when he redirected Jake Muzzin's point shot, and for the second time in the last two nights the Kings were on their way to pulling out a road victory in the third period.
Anze Kopitar made it 2-0 for the Kings on an empty-netter with 2.9 seconds left, and goaltender Ben Scrivens picked up his fourth career shutout, his second of the season. The nature of this workload — two games in two nights — was a way of life when Scrivens played in the minors.
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter brought up those times during one of the intermissions, directing his comments at the younger members of the team.
"I told those kids between periods, you guys should have a little bit more energy because you're used to eight-hour bus rides," he said.
Said Scrivens, who faced 26 shots: "We played three in three [nights] with some bus trips in between. I get on the bus and put on my blinders."
Unlike the 2012 Stanley Cup Final, however, when the teams put on a far more memorable show with the Kings winning in six tense games, this one lived down to the hype.
The Kings could be forgiven for that because they played Thursday night against the New York Islanders and were minus four regulars, including starting goaltender Jonathan Quick and their most reliable goal scorer, Jeff Carter, all out because of injuries.
Sutter recalled an instance when he was with Calgary when the Flames' franchise goalie, Miikka Kiprusoff, was injured and the backup was forced to step up.
"The goalie's got to win games. … The No. 1 goalie went out before, the top goalie in the league, and another goalie played 10 games and nobody talked about him," Sutter said. "It was Jamie McLennan. We made the playoffs because of what Jamie McLennan did during that stretch. Maybe that's what this guy has got to do."
On Friday, Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi offered another update on Quick's status, telling The Times that Quick will be out a minimum of four weeks and if that timetable holds up, it should not affect Quick's standing with Team USA at the Olympics. Quick suffered a strained groin on Tuesday at Buffalo.
The Devils, meanwhile, are a shadow of the team that gave the Kings a scare in 2012. Since then, they've lost Ilya Kovalchuk to Russia's Kontinental Hockey League and Zach Parise to the Minnesota Wild as a free agent.
The result was a flat game played in front of a half-empty Prudential Center. The Devils came out hard the first couple of shifts and had the Kings back on their heels, but the Kings weathered the early storm, thanks in part to some deft netminding from Scrivens.
"To withhold their push in the first period was huge for our team," King said. Ben "got a little confidence in himself. Just grinding till the end until we got the goal."
Quick's absence will give Scrivens a chance to prove he is a bona fide NHL starter. These games will give the organization the opportunity to assess his progress since acquiring him from the Toronto Maple Leafs for Jonathan Bernier last summer.
"There are only so many chances you get at this level," Scrivens said. "So you've got to be ready. You never know when it's going to come."
Kings center Jarret Stoll returned to the lineup after missing the last four games with an undisclosed upper-body injury. He replaced Colin Fraser in the lineup.
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