It was always going to be incredibly difficult for Kings rookie goalie Martin Jones to top his NHL debut, the one straight out of the can-you-believe-it file.
So Jones merely did something that he didn't do against Anaheim in the nine-round shootout win last week. In his second NHL start, he recorded his first shutout, defeating the New York Islanders, 3-0, on Saturday night at Staples Center, making 16 saves.
The Islanders are 4-13-2 since they traded Matt Moulson to the Buffalo Sabres for Thomas Vanek and mustered only nine shots against Jones in the final 40 minutes.
Along the way, Jones had some help from a post and assistance from reliable sources.
Kings center Anze Kopitar, who scored a highlight-worthy goal (his eighth of the season) in the second period, cutting through the slot with a strong move as Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic went with the poke check and came up wanting.
Kings captain Dustin Brown provided some insurance midway through the third with a clever wraparound, beating Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin inside the left post for his second goal in two games.
Rookie forward Tyler Toffoli scored an empty-netter with 1:04 remaining, which was his seventh goal of the season. He has three goals in the last three games.
Just wondering: What will the unflappable Jones do in his third start?
If he was giddy about the shutout, Jones did an excellent job of hiding it.
"It's good. Any time you win, it's a good feeling," said Jones, who has stopped 42 of 44 shots in two starts. "Wasn't a ton of work early, but they had some zone time and I was able to get into the game. I thought we got better as the game went on."
He was asked about his teammates chanting his name afterward as they headed into the dressing room.
"The guys have been awesome since I've been up here," Jones said. "It's a great group of guys and I'm happy to be able to get a couple of wins for them."
Now some big-picture points. The Kings have lost just once in regulation since Nov. 2 against Nashville. Starting goalie Jonathan Quick got hurt in the next game at Buffalo and backup Ben Scrivens finished the Eastern swing with back-to-back shutouts and was named the NHL's No. 1 star of the week.
Jones got the nod Tuesday at Anaheim and while it seemed murky about who would start Saturday against the Islanders, Kings Coach Darryl Sutter delivered more than a few broad hints after practice Friday morning in El Segundo.
It turned out Jones wasn't told until Saturday. He said it was "late."
What was his definition of late?
"This afternoon," he said, smiling.
As for Sutter, he said he noticed some "little things" creeping into the game of Scrivens two or three games ago.
"You can't do that at this level," Sutter said Friday. "You're going to get scored on.… We did a lot of work with Ben in training camp to get into our program. There's a reason that they don't give up many shots.
"There's a reason they don't spend much time in our zone. There's a reason why we have the puck a lot. And the big reason is how the goaltender plays for us. If he's getting away from that, then he's not going to play."
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