Kings continue impressive trip with 1-0 victory over Flyers
From Philadelphia — Even the Kings can’t explain why they’ve been so successful on the road lately, a trend they continued Sunday by stifling the East-leading Philadelphia Flyers, 1-0. Barely a day after they had outplayed the Capitals in Washington they followed with an impressive and intense performance in front of a sellout crowd at the Wells Fargo Center and improved to 4-0-2 on their 10-game journey around North America.
Is it the room service? The togetherness built during a long time away from home?
“I don’t know,” said center Anze Kopitar, who set up Drew Doughty’s goal 17 seconds into the second period, “and it doesn’t matter as long as we won.”
Defense and goaltending enabled the Kings to stretch their overall point streak to nine games (7-0-2) and win at Philadelphia for the first time since March 23, 2000 — and the first time in regulation since April 1, 1993.
Jonathan Quick stopped 40 shots for his sixth shutout this season, keeping the Kings’ goals-against total at a league-low 132. The Kings killed off four disadvantages Sunday, including a 20-second five-on-three Flyers power play in the second period, and have killed 26 of 27 disadvantages over their last eight games. They tipped passes away with their sticks, won key defensive-zone faceoffs and focused on the details that have enabled them to yield three goals or fewer in 15 straight games and more than two goals only once in their last eight games.
They matched eighth-place Minnesota’s 65 points but remain a rung below the Wild in the congested West standings because they’ve played one more game. The Kings’ victory and a loss by Pacific Division leader Dallas left three points separating all five teams in the division.
The growing possibility they’d miss the playoffs after a 2-10 slump gave the Kings a louder wake-up call than any speech or proverbial look in the mirror.
“Take a look at the standings. We need to win,” Quick said. “We need to come out and get two points every time out.
“That’s our motivation, to make the playoffs, and right now we’re not in that top eight. If we do climb in there we’re going to keep on pushing and keep trying to get points every time we go out.”
They were outshot, 40-25, on Sunday but matched the Flyers push for shove — though they got away with a shove from behind by Jarret Stoll in the third period that had Chris Pronger fuming.
Stoll pushed the behemoth Pronger into the boards and Pronger retaliated, but the officials saw only Pronger mauling Stoll. Pronger was banished for roughing at 13:37, forcing the Flyers to kill a penalty when they could have instead been attacking.
“He got me from behind. I knew he was coming. He told me he was coming,” Pronger said. “There was nowhere I could go. I had my stick on the puck, so I couldn’t put my hands up to protect myself or do anything like that. There’s not much else I can do there.”
Stoll confirmed he warned Pronger he was coming before the hit. “That doesn’t mean he’s got to hit me from behind, though,” Pronger said.
A league official said Stoll’s hit was not worthy of supplementary discipline, another road success for the Kings.
They scored the only goal on a smart play by linemates Kopitar and Wayne Simmonds, who were effective teamed for the second straight game with defensive standout Michal Handzus.
Simmons, aggressive throughout the game, forced Mike Richards into turning the puck over behind Philadelphia’s net. The puck came to Kopitar, who found Doughty for a one-timer that got between the pads of goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
“There was a big dig-in here today,” Kings Coach Terry Murray said. “That’s a very hard game when you’re coming back off the game [Saturday] against a high-powered Washington team and then facing the same — and a better team than Washington. I just like the way we did things the right way with our top players.”
Kopitar said the Kings’ performance Sunday “shows the way we should play each and every night,” home or road. “That’s a new challenge right now,” he said, “but we feel confident as a team that we’re going to do it.”
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