DALLAS, Texas (Mar. 26) -
A scintillating 29-save performance from rookie goaltender Jonathan Quick
carried the Los Angeles Kings to a 1-0 shootout win over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night at the American Airlines Center in downtown Dallas.
The shutout was the fourth of the year the University of Massachusetts-Amherst product and matches a Kings' rookie record for shutouts in a season. Jamie Storr (1998-99), Mario Lessard (1978-79), and Gerry Desjardins (1968-69) are the other Los Angeles goalies to record four shutouts in their first professional seasons. All four of Quick's shutouts, however, have come on the road, a first for a Kings'netminder.
Kings' right wing Justin Williams
made sure Quick was rewarded with a win for his efforts when he scored the game-winning goal as the third and final L.A. shooter in the shootout. Williams' decisive tally came with a bit of controversy, as his wrist shot from the high slot initially appeared to be stopped by Dallas goaltender Marty Turco. Turco's momentum, however, carried him into the net and the puck squirted through his legs. After a brief conversation with his fellow officials, referee Tim Peel credited Williams with the goal.
"I thought it was in when I shot it," said Williams of the winning strike. "I raised my arms up to celebrate, but then I looked over at our bench and everybody was still sitting down. My plan as I was moving in was to go five-hole or high glove. Turco gave up a bit of space between his legs at the very end and I squeezed it through."
Quick was locked in from the opening faceoff in a game that the reeling Kings desperately needed to win. He turned away all 12 Dallas shots he faced in the first period. Three of his best stops came on a Stars' powerplay 3:30 into game to keep L.A. from falling into an early hole.
"That was huge," said Kings' head coach Terry Murray of Quick's strong start. "Dallas had several outstanding chances with a two-man advantage and he was able to keep the puck out of the net. We were reeling a little bit, but he stepped up and helped bail us out."
Quick made the top play of the second period when he robbed the Stars' leading goal scorer, left wing Loui Eriksson, on a point-blank chance five minutes into the frame. Dallas center Mike Ribeiro began the play by threading a pass to Brendan Morrison at the top of the Kings' goal crease. Morrison hesitated before shoveling the puck to a wide-open Eriksson at the right post of the L.A. goal. Quick then flashed out his left leg to make a spectacular pad save on the shocked Eriksson.
"That came at an important time," said Quick. "I knew that I needed to make the save and was fortunate to read the play right and get a piece of the puck."
Buoyed by Quick's brilliance, the Kings' skaters started to pick up steam in the third period. Center Brad Richardson
fired a slapper from between the circles at the eight-minute mark of the period that Turco was fortunate to turn away. Center Anze Kopitar
hit the left post of the Dallas net on a one-timer from the slot with seven minutes left in regulation. Los Angeles had another glorious scoring chance with two minutes on the clock when right wing Teddy Purcell blasted low hard shot to Turco's left that the Dallas goalie somehow caught in his glove.
After a scoreless overtime period, the Kings took an early lead in the shootout when Kopitar - L.A.'s first shooter - scored a jaw-dropping one-handed goal. The Stars refused to fold, and Dallas tied the shootout at one when Jere Lehtinen wristed the puck past the outstretched glove of Quick. Williams responded to Lehtinen's goal with the game-winning marker for the Kings.
"This was a big one for us, no doubt about that," stated Williams. "To say we're desperate right now would be an understatement. Hopefully we can build on this game and play well down the stretch."
The win snaps a three-game losing streak for the Kings and improves their record to 31-33-10 for the season. The shootout loss extends the Stars' winless streak to five straight games (0-4-1) and drops the team's record to 33-32-9 on the year. With 72 points, Los Angeles is now eight points behind Nashville for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. QUOTESJonathan QuickOn the outcome of Thursday's game
"It's just good to get back into the winning column. We've played fairly well as of late but the bounces just haven't gone our way. Tonight was important simply because we needed a win so badly." On his fourth shutout of the year
"I'm just glad I could help us win. The shutout is nice, but the most important thing was that we get two points." Justin WilliamsOn what the Kings have to do to make the playoffs
"Basically we know we need to win out to have a chance. That's why this one was so huge tonight. There is breathing room for us anymore." Terry MurrayOn Jonathan Quic
"He's played pretty consistently at a very high level for a long time now. He's a young guy, but he's been outstanding. Tonight he made a ton of good pad saves. I was also very impressed with the way he moved the puck. That showed me that he's gaining in confidence." NOTES
Kings center Jarret Stoll
was helped off the ice early in the third period after he was sent awkwardly into the boards by a Dallas defenseman. He suffered what team officials called a lower-body injury and did not return to the game...The game-winning goal was the first of the season for Williams...The Kings struggles to score at even strength continued in Dallas. L.A. has not scored an even strength goal in their last 245 minutes played...The Kings will wrap up their current six-game road trip with a game at Nashville on Saturday, Mar. 28...The shootout win improves the Kings record to 4-0-1 this season versus Dallas. The two Pacific Division rivals will wrap up their season series next Tuesday, Mar. 31, at the STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.
Compiled by Jeff Bowerman | Special to LAKings.com