LOS ANGELES – For the second game in a row, the Kings’ rugged defense, stingy penalty-kill, and the masterful work of Jonathan Quick
were able to weather a shooting spree from the opposition and escape with a one-goal win.
This time around, it was the Minnesota Wild, who rifled away for 41 shots Sunday afternoon as the Kings snatched their fourth-straight win of the season under the sun at STAPLES Center.
They seem to have pushed their daytime struggles to the wayside, the Kings now 6-2-0 in their last eight afternoon games under Darryl Sutter, dating back to last season.
But, regardless of the time the game was played, there’s a reason the Kings were able to stick out another win, remaining perfect on their six-game home stand.
“I think our penalty kills won us the game,” Darryl Sutter noted. “The two penalty kills were big.”
The Kings killed off each and every one of Minnesota’s five power plays on the afternoon, and have not allowed a power play goal since Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s tally in Arizona on October 11. Since then, the Kings have killed off 14 straight penalties.
As for the scoring, Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson were at it again.
With just over six minutes remaining in the first period, Toffoli jammed home a loose rebound that found itself sitting unclaimed in front of Niklas Backstrom’s net. Mike Richards, who saw Toffoli pursuing the Wild’s net as the play progressed, threw the puck at Minnesota’s net for a rebound, and the plan went into action.
After a scoreless second period, Pearson provided some insurance, burying the Kings’ second goal of the afternoon, giving the club a 2-0 lead over Minnesota less than three minutes into the third period.
Carter cycled the puck behind the net to Toffoli, who walked out with the puck, found Pearson wide open on the back door, and Niklas Backstrom had absolutely no chance.
Pearson (5), Toffoli(3), and Carter (3) have combined to score 11 of the Kings’ 14 goals this season.
Minnesota’s Matt Cook put the Wild on the board with 13:13 remaining in regulation, chipping a backhander past Quick after being left alone in front of Los Angeles’ net.
Cooke’s goal put a cap on Quick’s goalless streak. Quick had gone 112:08 straight minutes without allowing a goal, not since Edmonton’s Matt Hendricks beat him in the final seconds of the Kings’ 6-1 win Tuesday night.
Quick’s play hasn’t gone unnoticed in the Kings’ dressing room.
“It’s been huge,” Jarret Stoll said of Quick’s play following the win. “I don’t think we’ve had our game the last little while. We’re winning, but we’re winning maybe on penalty killing and goaltending right now, and we know that. We’ve got to be better in a lot of areas. Yeah, Quickie’s being Quickie, and he’s huge for us again.”
Quick has made a combined 114 saves in the Kings’ previous three games, surrendering just two goals in the club’s three wins.
Tyler Toffoli led the team in points (1G, 1A = 2), Drew Doughty, Justin Williams, Tanner Pearson, Tyler Toffoli in shots (2), Anze Kopitar in hits (6), Justin Williams and Robyn Regehr in blocked shots (2), and Drew Doughty in time on ice (28:17).
The Kings, now a perfect 4-0-0 on their current six-game home stand, and 4-1-1 on the season, will not play again until Thursday night. The Buffalo Sabres will be in town, the puck is slated to drop at 7:30PM PT.