BUFFALO, N.Y. — First, the subplot: The Kings finally lost a shootout, falling, 3-2, as Buffalo won its first home game after nine attempts this season.
But that clearly was the secondary storyline in a wildly unusual night in which the Kings lost their No. 1 goalie, Jonathan Quick, to an apparent lower-body injury with 1:20 left in overtime at First Niagara Center on Tuesday.
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter indicated after his postgame news conference the planned course of action was to send Quick to Los Angeles for evaluation by team doctors. He said that was the preferred option instead of having Quick evaluated on the road.
The ramifications of losing the franchise goalie for any period of time are significant for the Kings, and Quick is considered a top candidate as the starter for Team USA at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February .
The injury appeared to happen when Quick made a left pad save in overtime and he looked in distress. The trainer immediately came out to attend to him. Backup Ben Scrivens started stretching in front of the bench as that occurred, and Quick came out of the game.
"He's been our best player for years now," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "You can't replace him. But if that is the case, we have all the confidence in Benny. He can step in and he's a capable goalie. The way we play — Ben's a competitive guy."
Brown thought the injury could have happened on the save in overtime.
"Probably on that one quick shot, I'm not sure what he did," Brown said. "It's a tough spot for Ben to come in. I mean, like I said, we had a chance in overtime to finish it. That's the game, really."
Scrivens had not played since Oct. 29 at Phoenix. Quick has won four shootouts for the Kings this season and shut out the Sabres last week in Los Angeles.
"I've gone in for injured guys before, whether it's early or late," Scrivens said. "It doesn't really change anything. You've got to be ready. It's obviously tough going in late in the game like that and going into a shootout. But I've got to find a way to make a save in the shootout there. That's my job."
"It's the nature of the beast, being a support guy. You've got to be ready for that. You never go to the rink going, 'Oh, there's no chance.' You don't go in between periods and all of a sudden go out there without your skates done up because you never know what's going to happen.
The organization has been high on goalie Martin Jones, who has been looking sharp early on for its minor-league affiliate in Manchester, N.H., going 9-2-2 with a goals-against-average of 2.24
No one could recall having played in a game in which there was a goalie switch late in overtime because of an injury. Scrivens played the final 1:20 but did not face a shot. He allowed goals to the Sabres' first and third shooters, Matt Moulson and Tyler Ennis, in the shootout.
Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, who is contending with Quick for the starting Olympic position, stopped Kings forwards Mike Richards and Trevor Lewis to secure the win. He holds the NHL's record for most career shootout victories with 46.
The Kings out-shot the Sabres, 45-17, in the game.
Cody Hodgson scored twice for the Sabres, Moulson added two assists, and the Kings goals came from Justin Williams (seventh of the season) and Dwight King, who had his fifth of the season, tying a career-high.