Sure, it might seem like a bit of a nostalgia move at first glance, but re-acquired Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi is out to show he still can help out on the blue line.
“I’ve never been a guy that’s going to rack up points and make a flashy play,” Scuderi said after Saturday’s morning skate, a few hours before the Kings beat Buffalo, 2-0, for their fourth straight victory, led by Tanner Pearson’s two goals.
Scuderi earlier had assessed his worth in blunt terms. “I think I’m still a good penalty-killer and can provide good role-player fundamentals at this level,” he said.
The Kings didn’t waste much time inserting him into the fray. He was on the second penalty-killing unit as early as the first period, and Scuderi logged 19-plus minutes of ice time against the Sabres.
He was utilized in key moments late in the game, a major sign of trust.
“It’s a big confidence boost,” Scuderi said. “I think the biggest thing that’s been hurting in my game for a couple of months isn’t so much the physicality of it, as is the confidence of it, the mental side. Any time you can be used in those situations, it gives you a little boost that the coaching staff trusts you to do those things.”
Scuderi, in fact, helped set up the Kings’ first goal, recording the secondary assist on Pearson’s rebound at 4:40 of the second period. Spotting Martinez just inside the blue line, Scuderi set the stage nicely for him.
The Martinez blast hit traffic and Pearson alertly converted the rebound for his ninth goal of the season. It was the 23rd point of the season for Martinez, a career high. Pearson’s second goal and 10th of the season came off another rebound, at 13:58 of the third period.
“Both goals were a result of going to the net, which I’ve got to do on a more consistent basis,” Pearson said. “It’s a good step in the right direction. I got lucky with both bounces tonight, one goes off a defender right onto my stick and the other one came straight back out.”
Kings goalie Jhonas Enroth recorded the win against his former team, the Sabres, his first victory since Jan. 24 at San Jose. This was Enroth’s second shutout of the season as he faced 23 shots, and the seventh shutout of his career.
“It means a lot even though my feelings for them kind of fade away,” Enroth said. “It’s been awhile since I played for them. Definitely feels good to beat your old team, especially to get a shutout. I’m going to try to build on this and try to make this something positive.”
The Kings sent minor league defenseman Christian Ehrhoff to Chicago for Scuderi, and Scuderi had a good line about his reaction to the deal and said he was “definitely the happiest guy in Cleveland, that’s for sure.”
It was his first game back on Staples Center ice as a King since Game 6 of the Western Conference final against Chicago in 2013. Scuderi left the Kings, via free agency, signed a four-year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins in July 2013, and then was traded to Chicago in December.
The Kings acknowledged his return with a brief video during the first period, and Scuderi recognized the applause with a wave to the crowd and patted his heart.
“I’m not an overly emotional guy,” Scuderi said. “I don’t show a whole lot but it was pretty special. I was looking for an opportunity to go (back) to the NHL. It’s a privilege to play in this league but it made it a lot sweeter to come back to the Kings.”
For the Kings, their throw-back week stopped with the Scuderi move. There had been some consideration about reacquiring forward Teddy Purcell from the Edmonton Oilers, along with struggling defenseman Justin Schultz.
Purcell, however, went to the Florida Panthers for a third-round draft pick in a flurry of deal-making as the Panthers pulled off three trades in about an hour on Saturday afternoon. Later, the Oilers moved Schultz to the Pittsburgh Penguins for a third-round pick.
KINGS AT DUCKS
When: 6 p.m. On the air: NBCSN, 830, 790
Update: Defenseman Rob Scuderi played his first game back with the Kings on Saturday after he was acquired from Chicago. Scuderi, 37, learned of the trade in Cleveland while with the minor league Rockford IceHogs. “I was definitely the happiest guy in Cleveland,” Scuderi said. “It’s nice to come back to some familiar faces in a familiar environment where I had some success, and I’d like to have some more.”
Follow Lisa Dillman on Twitter @reallisa