Just under seven minutes into the second period of the Kings-Sharks game at STAPLES Center on Monday night, goaltender Erik Ersberg skated gingerly off the ice during a TV timeout and was replaced by Jason LaBarbera.
The Kings PR department announced later in the game that he was removed due to a "lower body injury" and that his return was "doubtful." LaBarbera finished the game, stopping 13-of-14 shots in regulation and overtime as the Kings-Sharks ended in a 2-2 tie and entered the shootout, where LaBarbera allowed two goals on two shots and Brian Boucher stopped 2-of-3 Kings attempts as San Jose prevailed, 3-2.
Kings head coach Terry Murray revealed during his post game press conference that Ersberg had "pulled a groin" and said there would be further information available on Tuesday after team doctors had re-evaluated the 26-year-old netminder. Update:
MRI results on Ersberg were negative and he's expected to be out a minimum of two weeks.
Ersberg left the game with a 2-1 lead over San Jose, having stopped 10-of-11, playing in 26:39 TOI.
Entering the game, Ersberg had posted an 8-5-2 mark with a 2.39 GAA and a .902 SV% and had started the last two games - both wins - stopping 59-of-62 with a .951 SV% and a 1.50 GAA in a 6-2 win over St. Louis on Dec. 11 and a 3-1 win over Minnesota on Dec. 13.
LaBarbera, meanwhile, had entered the game with a 5-7-2 mark, a 2.75 GAA and a .898 SV%.
Should Ersberg miss significant time, the Kings have four goaltending prospects in the AHL and the ECHL, three of which have appeared in the NHL, that could be recalled to play back up to LaBarbera..
Prospect Jonathan Bernier started the first four games of the Kings 2007-08 season, posting a 1-3-0 mark with a 4.03 GAA and a .864 SV%. Bernier is 6-5-2 with a 2.89 GAA and a .898 SV% for the AHL's Manchester Monarchs.
Jonathan Quick appeared in three games with the Kings last season, posting a 1-2-0 mark with a 3.83 GAA and a .855 SV%. He earned the win in his first NHL start, stopping 15-of-17 shots in an 8-2 win over Buffalo on Dec. 6. The Kings will play Buffalo on Friday, Dec. 19. Quick has posted a 6-5-2 mark with a 2.68 GAA and a .919 SV% this season for Manchester.
The Kings also have Daniel Taylor on their lists of prospects, who saw action in one period of one game stopping 8-of-10 shots vs. Dallas on March 29. Taylor has posted a 3-15-1 mark with a 3.80 GAA and a .886 SV% at Reading of the ECHL.
In addition, the Kings have Jeff Zatkoff, who has never appeared at the NHL level, stashed away in nearby Ontario, where he has posted an 8-6-1 mark with a 2.31 GAA and a .934 SV% in his first year as a pro.
The Kings are scheduled to practice at Toyota Sports Center on Tuesday at 11 a.m. where more information will be released on the extent of Ersberg's injury. The Kings will conclude a four-game homestand on Wednesday, Dec. 17 playing host to the New York Rangers at 7:30 p.m.