-- One thing is for certain about the Los Angeles Kings
' 3-2 overtime loss in Game 1 of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series against the Vancouver Canucks
: It can't be pinned on goaltender Jonathan Quick
The 24-year-old has been a mess since returning from the Olympics, where he represented Team USA as its third goaltender. Quick was just 4-7-4 after the break, and it got so bad that coach Terry Murray
inserted top prospect Jonathan Bernier
for two late-season games -- both Kings victories.
But on Thursday, Quick finally found his game. He made 41 saves, including a splendid glove save on Henrik Sedin
off a 2-on-1 in overtime to give his team a chance to steal the series opener.
"He gave us a chance. He stood tall. He was phenomenal," said left wing Ryan Smyth
. "He fought traffic really well. He found a way to move with the puck. From a goaltender, that's all you can ask for."
Quick was especially brilliant in the first period, when he stopped all 16 shots the Canucks fired his way. The Kings escaped that period in a scoreless tie.
"He obviously came out and showed he was ready," center Jarret Stoll
said. "He was ready to start and made some big saves for us in key moments. It could've been a rough first period for us, but that's the way he's been all year."
While it was never intimated by Murray, it was well within the realm of possibility that a bad performance could have led to a goaltending change in this series. Backup Erik Ersberg
played in only three games after the break, but he was 2-0-1 in those games and stopped 57 of 59 shots along the way.
Instead, Quick reminded everyone of why he had 39 wins in the regular season and was chosen to represent Team USA in the first place.
played extremely well," Murray said. "There was a lot of action around the net. Anytime you play Vancouver, they cycle the puck very well. They've got some good shooters from the top end. They get to the net, they create a lot of screens, a lot of traffic.
"Quick responded and played an excellent game. He gave us an opportunity to win this one."
He'll get another opportunity Saturday when these two teams meet again in Game 2.
Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter at: @DLozoNHL