Goaltending duels you can realistically envision …
The Kings' Jonathan Quick vs. Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks. Quick vs. Carey Price of the Montreal Canadiens. Or Quick vs. Pekka Rinne of the Nashville Predators.
Presumably, Quick vs. Andrew Hammond of the Ottawa Senators would have been far far down that list. The goalie was plying his trade with the Senators' American Hockey League affiliate in Binghamton (N.Y.) as recently as Jan. 29.
Now he is the goalie with the magic touch. Hammond recorded shutouts on consecutive nights, the second coming in Ottawa's 1-0 victory against the Kings on Thursday night at Staples Center. It ended the Kings' eight-game winning streak (one short of the club record), which had been the longest active run in the league, and this was the first victory by the Senators in Los Angeles since 2000.
Hammond, who made 35 saves and frustrated the Kings time and time again, is not exactly a youngster. He turned 27 this month and has recorded some impressive numbers since the Senators recalled him on an emergency basis, winning four times in four starts. Ottawa has won four straight games.
"I don't think too many people expected a goalie battle between Quick and the Hamburglar tonight," said Hammond. "It's obviously pretty crazy what's going on right now."
It looked like the Kings had scored first, early in the second period, at 2:12, but what would have been a goal by Justin Williams was waved off when the referee Ian Walsh lost sight of the puck and the whistle was blown.
Still, the Kings had several excellent chances later on, namely a late power play with 1:57 remaining. With 57.7 left, Kings winger Marian Gaborik set up winger Tyler Toffoli in close but Toffoli was denied by Hammond's left pad.
"Gabby made a nice play," Toffoli said. "I had it in my hands and couldn't get it up there. I don't think we played our best game. I thought we lacked a couple of things. So we've got to regroup and be ready to play against a big team [Anaheim] tomorrow.
"He [Hammond] played really well tonight."
Said Kings forward Dwight King: "We had our moments where we were in the zone and had some very good chances and didn't capitalize on them and were sloppy for some parts.
"We just couldn't find a way to beat the goalie."
Hammond's 3-0 shutout against the Ducks on Wednesday night in Anaheim was the first of his career and came with his parents in attendance, the first time they were able to see him play in the NHL.
Quick, who had a shutout in his last start on Tuesday against Detroit, was nearly as sharp.
The lone goal came early in the third period, at 1:40, on the rush by speedy winger Mike Hoffman, who was set up with a slick pass across from center Mika Zibanejad, and beat Quick up high.
For Hoffman, it was his 21st goal of the season and Zibanejad has six points in his last seven games.
The Kings had not lost since blowing a late third-period lead at Florida on Feb. 5. Since then, they had won in a variety of manners and, of late, their special teams had been excelling. They haven't allowed a power-play goal since Feb. 12 against Calgary, and that streak did stay intact on Thursday.
Ottawa was 0 for 3 on the power play, and the Kings have now killed off 19 straight penalties.
"I thought our defense was really slow in the first period moving pucks," Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said. "In the second, we passed the puck to them. It probably should have been 2-1 for them after the second.
"In the third, we couldn't get the goal. Jeff Carter's line was really good. After that, it was pretty much zero."
Sutter was asked if some of his players were looking ahead to the Ducks' game on Friday night in Anaheim. He said he did not think that was the case.
"The older players that didn't play very well tonight, won't play very well tomorrow night, that's my concern," he said. "Why would they be looking ahead to tomorrow night? You get two points for every game."
The Kings will play the Ducks with their newest player in the lineup: defenseman Andrej Sekera, who was acquired in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday.
"It's a high-end club," Sekera said of the Kings.
"Losing is not an option here. It's great to be in an environment like that. I'm looking forward to that. It's going to be fun, and it's going to be a challenge."