LOS ANGELES – Martin Jones
’ third shutout of the season propelled the Kings to a 2-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday night at STAPLES Center.
For the Kings’ young backup goaltender, it was the seventh shutout of his career, in what was his first start since December 12. Jones provided rest for Jonathan Quick, who had started the Kings’ previous 12 games, and did so in majestic fashion. Jones stopped all 19 shots he faced Monday night.
“We did a great job of checking all night,” Jones said of his teammates’ performance. “The penalty kill was really good for us when we needed it, and the guys did a really good job around the net. You put those things together, and we are a tough team to beat.”
The Kings got on the board less than a minute into the contest, although it took video review to confirm Anze Kopitar’s 10th goal of the campaign.
Coming out of the gate buzzing on the game’s opening shift, the Kings cycled the puck relentlessly in Toronto’s zone. Drew Doughty broke low into the zone, circled around Toronto’s net with the puck, and found Kopitar with a nifty pass across the top of the crease.
Kopitar, with the little time and space he was granted, chipped the puck high to the the back of the net’s top shelf and past Jonathan Bernier, who was being partially screened by defenseman Dion Phaneuf.
Kopitar’s shot hit the net camera placed on the back bar of the net’s roof, and ricochet out too fast for referees on the ice to signal a good goal. The goal was examined under video review immediately after the next whistle was blown, confirming Kopitar’s opening marker.
The game was tight throughout; the Kings registering 20 shots to the Maple Leafs’ 19. The Kings’ defense played exceptionally well, after allowing a combined 15 goals in the previous three games. They managed to keep the Maple Leafs’ offense to the outside throughout the night, forcing Toronto to fire low-percentage shots on Martin Jones.
The Kings also sacrificed their bodies in the defensive zone, blocking 13 shots on the evening, and laying 41 hits.
“We are a physical team, and that’s how we wear other teams down,” Doughty said following the win. “We get in on the forecheck when they are in our d-zone. We make it miserable for them to be down there. We did a better job of that tonight, but I think that we still have some room for improvement.”
Shutting down Toronto’s power play was key for the Kings to maintain their lead Monday night. The Maple Leafs went 0-for-3 on the man-advantage, and the Kings held Toronto’s biggest offensive threat, Phil Kessel, to just three shots all night.
Marian Gaborik gave the Kings a 2-0 lead with 1:00 remaining in regulation time, potting an empty netter after some nice puck movement from Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar. With his assist, Kopitar is running with a four-game assist streak (2G, 6A), and recorded his team-leading 10th multi-point game of the season.
Gaborik’s goal was his 14th of the season; he continues to lead the roster in that department. Gaborik now has 15 points (10G, 5A) in his last 12 games.
For the Kings, Monday night’s win was the 900th home win in franchise history (900-681-251). It was also the first time the Kings have shutout the Maple Leafs since February 20, 1988, when Roland Melanson stopped all 21 shots he faced in a 3-0 Kings victory.
Martin Jones’ perfect 19-save performance also locked up the Kings 199th shutout in franchise history. Jones has now become the fastest goaltender (29 games) in modern NHL history to record seven career shutouts.
Anze Kopitar (1G, 1A) and Jeff Carter (2A) led all Kings players in points scored (2), Marian Gaborik, Dustin Brown, and Jeff Carter in shots taken (3), Brayden McNabb in hits delivered (7), Drew Doughty in shots blocked (3), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (28:30). Martin Jones made 19 saves in the win.
With the win, the Kings’ record jumps to 20-13-10; their mark on home ice at STAPLES Center improves to 15-5-4. The Kings are now 1-1-2 on their current seven-game home stand. The New Jersey Devils will be in town Wednesday night; the puck is slated to drop at 7:30PM PT.