What we learned from the Kings’ 2-0 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday:
Goaltender Jonathan Quick is in top form
Quick, who will be 33 next month and had knee surgery in October, has lost none of the flexibility that has been the foundation of his game. He was exceptional Sunday night in stopping 34 shots and allowing the Kings to stay in a game that launched their four-game homestand on a positive note.
“Jonathan Quick is just a great goalie,” said Hurricanes forward Justin Williams, and he should know because he played alongside Quick on the Kings’ 2012 and 2014 Stanley Cup championship teams. Quick won the Conn Smythe trophy as the most valuable player in the playoffs in 2012 and Williams won it in 2014.
Quick himself credited the Kings’ penalty killers, who had been struggling recently but silenced Carolina during a 91-second five-on-three advantage during the third period on Sunday.
“It takes a lot of courage blocking shots like those guys were doing,” Quick said. “We got some clears on the five-on-three, which was huge because it releases the pressure a little bit.”
The Kings were credited with 20 blocks, led by Alec Martinez with four.
Alec Martinez has been a clutch scorer this season
The veteran defenseman, who deflected a pass from Jake Muzzin past Petr Mrazek for the Kings’ first goal on Sunday, has scored only two goals this season but both were game-winners. Believe it or not, two game-winners is a team-leading total. His first, on Oct. 28, was decisive in the Kings’ 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers.
On Sunday, he was more eager to talk about the Kings’ penalty-killing success than his scoring exploits.
“Obviously, you don’t want to take penalties but when you have opportunities like that it’s a chance to gain momentum, and I think we did that,” he said. “Anytime you go down like that and face a little adversity you can look at it as an opportunity to build some momentum, and that’s what we did.”
Winning at home remains a problem
To be honest, winning anywhere has been a problem for the Kings this season. Their home has not been their castle: Their victory on Sunday raised their record at Staples Center to 6-8-1, which isn’t much to brag about.
“We’re going to have to get some victories as we go here, but it was nice to play a good game at home,” coach Willie Desjardins said. “We haven’t been as good at home as we would’ve liked to be. It was nice to play a complete game here.”
They’ll have three more chances to improve their record at Staples Center before they leave town again. They’ll play host to Arizona on Tuesday, New Jersey on Thursday and Vegas on Saturday. The game on Saturday will be their first against the Golden Knights since Vegas swept them out of the playoffs last spring by outscoring them 7-3.