Roughly 24 hours after being named to the U.S. Olympic team, Jonathan Quick showed why he deserves to be in Vancouver next month.
Quick stopped 26 shots and Michal Handzus scored shorthanded early in the third period as the Los Angeles Kings earned a 2-1 victory against the Washington Capitals at the Staples Center on Saturday.
''They are one of the best offenses in the league, so we knew they would come hard,'' said Quick, who has started all but four of the Kings' 42 games. ''Our penalty kill was unbelievable, and Handzus came up with a huge shorthanded goal. We know we have a good team, so I don't think we felt enormous pressure.''
Mike Green scored the lone goal for Washington, which came via the power play 2:13 into the second period. Alex Ovechkin was held without a point for the seventh time this season, and the Caps have lost six of those games.
''I don't think the team is relying too much on him because, when he was out of the lineup for eight games, we were 6-2,'' said Washington coach Bruce Boudreau, whose team has lost three consecutive games in regulation for the first time this season. ''I mean, it might be something like, 'Hey, Alex is playing, so let him do it.' But if we're in that syndrome, we'd better get out of it in a hurry because we won't win too many games.''
Ryan Smyth gave the Kings a 1-0 lead when he tallied his 11th goal of the season at 19:01 of the first period. After Caps defenseman John Erskine was whistled for interference, Smyth gathered a loose puck in the crease and poked it past goalie Michal Neuvirth for a power-play goal. Neuvirth finished with 17 saves.
Washington controlled the tempo in the second period and tied it early on Green's power-play goal. The Caps outshot Los Angeles 13-3 in the middle 20 minutes, but couldn't get another shot past Quick.
''I thought Quick was really good,'' Boudreau said. ''I was watching him in the warmup and I thought if we had shot some more pucks, we would have gotten him. But he got into a zone and he was unbeatable after the Mike Green goal.''
Handzus put the Kings back in front when he picked up his first shorthanded goal of the season and 16th of his career with 17:10 left in regulation. While Smyth was serving a boarding penalty, Brad Richardson passed the puck out from behind the net to Handzus, who swerved around Neuvirth and flipped the puck over Green's right shoulder as he backed up Neuvirth in the crease.
The Capitals had a two-man advantage for 53 seconds later in the third, as Jack Johnson was sent off for cross-checking Brooks Laich before defenseman Sean O'Donnell got a delay-of-game penalty for shooting the puck over the glass. But the Caps failed to capitalize. Washington outshot the Kings 10-5 in the third period.
''The last two games have been character games,'' L.A. coach Terry Murray said. ''Today it was against one of the premier teams in the game and the top offensive team in the League. So we had to come out and play with the right attitude and play intelligently. In the second period, we got a little careless with the puck and gave them too many opportunities. But Quick was outstanding.''
Next month, Quick hopes to be enjoying performances like the one he put forth on Saturday on a global stage for Team USA.
"It's very exciting … it's a dream come true," Quick said. "I can't wait to get up there and compete with the best in the world."
Material from wire services and broadcast media was used in this report.