Jason LaBarbera had an interesting week.
First he is pulled in the first period on Tuesday.
Then he sets a career high for saves on Thursday.
Then he makes a highlight reel save 700K and stops three of four in the shootout on Saturday.
Interesting week for the Kings net minder.
“It is just a matter of flushing away the bad stuff and staying positive,” LaBarbera said. “I think that has been our problem all year, being too negative and getting too down on ourselves too easily…
“The last few games we have just got back to basics and stayed positive.”
LaBarbera was pulled after surrendering three goals on seven shots in six minutes of an eventual 7-0 loss to the Nashville Predators on Jan. 8.
It was the worst game of a disappointing Kings season and could be the worst game of LaBarber’s NHL career.
“We were not thrilled with our effort, we embarrassed ourselves,” LaBarbera said. “We just knew we had to stick together as a team and try and be positive. The next day we just flushed it a way and focused on Toronto.”
Focus he did.
The 6-3 goaltender was huge in net vs. the Leafs rebounding on Thursday to stop a career-high 48-of-50 shots in the Kings 5-2 win over Toronto.
“For me it was just focusing on the puck and trying to make saves and just trying to get through it,” LaBarbera said of the onslaught of shots he faced.
LaBarbera’s previous career high for shots faced was 40, vs. Calgary on April 15, 2006, a 2-1 shoot out win. He once faced 61 shots in the American Hockey League, in the Monarchs 3-2 overtime win over the Hartford Wolf Pack on Jan. 5, 2007.
Despite the career mark, the week’s highlight might just have been the Kings 4-3 win over Dallas. LaBarbera stopped 23-of-26 in the game and three-of-four in the shootout.
But after the game, there was one save that still had STAPLES Center buzzing 700K .
With the game squared at two, Steve Ott and Jeff Halpern got behind the King defense in a two-on-one break with under 10 minutes remaining in the game. Ott waited out Kings defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky then dished to Halpern for a quick shot on net.
LaBarbera moved laterally to his left and dove to make a glove save keeping the score tied at three.
“It was more of a desperation, scramble play for me and I was lucky enough that Halpern made me look good,” LaBarbera said of the play.
“One thing I have learned over the years is you can’t get too excited after making a save like that. I know the fans enjoyed it, I can hear them cheering, but what is the point if they win the face off and you let one in. You enjoy it after the game and watch it. I went home and watched it on youtube.”
We are sure he meant to say LAKings.com, nonetheless, it was a good end to a turbulent week for the Kings goaltender.
Hopefully LaBarbera, a Burnaby, British Columbia native, can keep up his solid play this week as the team goes on a three-game road trip through Western Canada, facing Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver.
“I am from Western Canada, I have a lot of friends and family that will be out. It’s exciting for me.”