Kings suffer another disappointment with 4-3 shootout loss to Oilers
After 81 games and an inexcusable 4-3 shootout loss to the long-eliminated Edmonton Oilers on Saturday, the only number relevant to the Kings is one.
As in: Can Jonathan Quick earn one victory before the playoffs and end a personal eight-game winless streak?
Quick, who hasn’t won since March 22 and on Saturday set a club record with his 72nd appearance, gave up three goals on 16 shots before his teammates followed a well-worn script and rallied to pull even in the third period at Staples Center.
In the shootout — the Kings’ fourth in a row — Quick was beaten by Ryan Potulny and Shawn Horcoff. Edmonton’s Devan Dubnyk, who had stopped 52 of the Kings’ season-high 55 shots, gave up a goal to Michal Handzus but stopped backhanders by Jack Johnson and Ryan Smyth.
A victory Saturday would have strengthened the Kings’ chances of finishing fifth. They can still be the No. 5-seeded team in the Western Conference but will need help — and can be No. 7 depending on what Nashville and Detroit do on the season’s final weekend.
“It doesn’t really matter whether we came back or not. At the end of the day, this is a game where we needed two points,” defenseman Sean O’Donnell said. “These are important games right now. Not to get two points was a real disappointment.”
Coach Terry Murray was wavering on his plan to rest Quick and start Erik Ersberg on Sunday at Colorado. Not because Quick can become the 25th goalie to win 40 games in a season, but because Quick and the Kings need him to win before they begin a playoff journey that will take many of them into new territory.
“It does mean something there. That’s something I need to think about it,” Murray said. “The 40 number doesn’t have meaning to me and I hope to him, but it’s important that we get a win under our belt going in the right way.”
Quick said he’s not worried about his streak affecting his play.
“There’s no reason it should,” he said. “As a team, and me personally, we won plenty of games to be confident that we’re going to win more. It doesn’t affect you at all.
“At the end of the day, you just want to be prepared and make sure your focus going into the playoffs is where it needs to be.”
The Kings’ focus was missing in the first two periods, which included a missed penalty shot by Fredrik Modin. The Kings’ shot total was deceiving, since few came in flurries and most were launched from the perimeter.
“Anybody who’s playing goal in the NHL that sees the puck from the blue line is going to stop pretty much every one of them. That was the frustrating part of it,” Murray said.
Edmonton built a 3-0 lead on Mike Comrie’s score off a rebound during a goal-mouth scramble at 14:37 of the first period, a pass by Comrie that caromed into the net off Rob Scuderi’s skate during a power play at 3:13 of the second period, and a short-handed goal by Tom Gilbert off a three-on-two at 5:24 of the third.
The Kings didn’t have much success until they established a stronger presence around the net.
Dustin Brown got them started with a power-play goal off a rebound at 6:39 of the third. A quick transition initiated by Johnson and continued by Brown led to their second goal, a rising snap shot by Jarret Stoll from the right circle at 12:03. Handzus tied the score at 17:26, backhanding the rebound of a shot that Scuderi took from the blue line.
Defenseman Matt Greene said Quick remains confident and that the team is confident in Quick.
“He’s not getting goals scored in front of him, and that’s on us,” Greene said.
And now the pressure is on Quick — and the Kings — to play the kind of complete game that will give them a chance to do more than four-and-out in the playoffs.