The Kings beat the Flyers, 1-0, in overtime at the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday afternoon. It was the Kings’ (27-21-4) fifth straight win, matching their best stretch of the season, and started a four-game road swing on a positive note. The Flyers (26-21-4) were lifted by goaltender Michal Neuvirth, but couldn’t connect on any of their 17 shots on goal.
“The way we’d lose a couple, we’re the worst in the league,” Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said of the winning streak. “We win a couple, we’re the best. I don’t really worry. We’re just sitting around there long enough, it doesn’t bother me one way or the other. We could’ve been standing here 1-0. It’s that close.”
Here is what we learned from the game:
Peter Budaj recorded his second consecutive shutout — and third during the five-game winning streak — that gives him an NHL-best seven on the season. He has not given up a goal in more than 144 minutes and his goals against average has dipped to 1.96.
But Saturday’s shutout was fueled by the Kings’ defense. They allowed just nine shots after the first period and blocked 19. After the game, Jake Muzzin grabbed a box score in an empty locker room and scanned the numbers.
“Seven blocked shots by Marty?” Muzzin muttered to himself, referring to fellow defenseman Alec Martinez. “Wow.”
Budaj again made all of the saves he was supposed to and anchored two penalty kills, but there was a lot of help in front.
“Not about one individual. He didn’t have to make any big saves, just got to stop the puck,” Sutter said of Budaj’s shutout. “I thought there were some rebounds early he could’ve handled better and we could’ve been down, but I thought the guys in front of him covered a lot up.”
Familiarity for the win
The Kings edged the Flyers when Jeff Carter buried a one-timer from the left side of the crease 2 minutes and 35 seconds into overtime. That was Carter’s league-leading ninth game-winning goal of the season, and his fourth overtime winner. It also further established how strong the Kings have been in three-on-three overtime this season.
They are 10-1 in games decided in the extra period. Sutter could not pinpoint one or two reasons why the Kings have been so successful in overtime, but did say “we may have some good rules that we use.”
Defenseman Drew Doughty was able to throw out a theory.
“Basically we stick with our three-guy pairs,” Doughty said. “So it’s me, [Carter] and [Anze Kopitar]. It’s always [Martinez], [Tyler Toffoli] and [Tanner] Pearson and the other one is usually [Jake] Muzzin, [Nic] Dowd and someone else. We usually stick with those units and one of them usually gets it done.”
On Saturday that was Kopitar, Carter and Doughty, with Kopitar hitting Carter for the deciding goal.
“I think they’re right up there with the top, if not the best definitely one of the best,” Budaj said of whether Kopitar, Carter and Doughty is the NHL’s best three-man unit. “Every team has their best players in three on three, such an open game.”
Forward Tyler Toffoli, who had missed the last 20 games because of a lower-body injury, returned to the ice against the Flyers.
He joined Carter and Pearson on the Kings’ second line, put one shot on goal and had another smack off the crossbar. He was also caught by two defenders on a would-have-been breakaway, which seemed to signify that he is shaking off some rust.
The Kings scratched forwards Andy Andreoff and Jordan Nolan (lower-body injury) and rookie defenseman Paul LaDue.