COLUMBUS - The Kings got what they wanted for Christmas: A strong victory to cap off an otherwise disappointing three-game road trip.
The Kings attacked the Blue Jackets early, winning the puck battles and establishing a forecheck that suffocated the Blue Jackets in their own zone. Raitis Ivanans started the scoring at 2:56 in the first period by rifling a rebound off the Drew Doughty
point shot past goaltender Steve Mason.
Los Angeles then grabbed hold of the most dangerous lead in hockey at the 11:48 mark when the Blue Jackets were caught in a 2-on-1 situation. Anze Kopitar
saucered a perfect pass onto the stick of Patrick O’Sullivan, who one-timed it past Mason for his ninth tally of the season.
The Kings stayed the course by keeping the energy level high and not letting the Blue Jackets get any high percentage shots on rookie goaltender Jonathan Quick
, who made just his second start of the season. Quick stopped all 24 shots he faced to earn his first NHL shutout.
“(Quick) played great,” said O’Sullivan. “He’s really athletic and probably the most impressive thing about him is he’s really calm. He doesn’t overreact.”
The Blue Jackets were shut out for the second time in as many games, with the first coming Saturday night in Phoenix. The absence of rookie phenom Derick Brassard has been a key factor in Columbus’ recent lack of offense. Brassard dislocated his shoulder in a fight against Dallas this past Thursday and must undergo season-ending surgery to correct it.
The best chance for Columbus came mid-way through the first when Rick Nash received a pass directly in front of the net, but Quick was in perfect position to make the save. The Blue Jackets managed to get one past Quick mid-way through the third, but the goal was immediately waved off due to Nash touching it with a high stick. The play was reviewed in Toronto and after a long delay, Toronto officials concluded that Nash’s stick was over the crossbar when it made contact with the puck. There’s no place like your home state for Peter Harrold, who scored his first goal of the season to cap off the Kings scoring with 2:08 left in the game.
Harrold, a native of the Cleveland area, wowed his friends and family in attendance with a quick backhand move to beat Mason. After receiving a pass from Kopitar, Harrold was all alone in front as he darted to the far left post and tucked it past the sprawling goaltender.
“They should give the puck to (Kopitar)”, Harrold joked. “He made a great play”. Harrold played on the wing for this game due to Tom Preissing returning to the lineup on defense. John Zeiler was scratched in favor of Preissing.
Both teams struggled on the power play. Columbus finished 0-for=5 and registered only four shots on the man advantage, while the Kings went 0-for-3 with 10 shots.
Los Angeles rookie defenseman Drew Doughty
turned in another strong performance, assisting on the first goal of the game. He finished with a plus-1 rating and logged 21:53 of ice time. Doughty said it was very important to finish the road trip on a high note.
“We played a bad game against Buffalo and we fought hard and lost in Detroit,” said Doughty. “We came out hard tonight and overall, we took it to them.”
Kings head coach Terry Murray was pleased with his team’s effort as they outshot Columbus 42 to 24. Murray, however, was quick to dismiss the idea that they dominated the opposition.
“We didn’t dominate anyone”, Murray said. “The first period was probably our best first period of the year, but in the second and third, it evened out.”
When asked about Quick’s performance, Murray said, “He’s playing better each day out. He was better today than he was in practice yesterday…he’s showing much more confidence.”
The Kings return home to the STAPLES Center on Friday to take on the Phoenix Coyotes, while the Blue Jackets try to end their scoreless streak against Philadelphia at home on Saturday .
QUOTESBlue Jackets Head Coach Ken Hitchcock
Commenting on tonight’s game…
“They kicked us hard early, they won all the board battles and they moved it quicker than we could get in (to the offensive zone). It took us 25 minutes to get into the game. (Los Angeles) played hard, they’re big and strong. They have a lot of veteran, strong player and guys who know how compete and play, and play at a high level.” Commenting on goaltender Steve Mason…
“Other than our goaltender, we were poor today. He’s the most resilient guy on our hockey club and he’s a great goaltender. He’ll play good again on the 27th and we’ll play better.” Commenting on the effects of Brassard being out of the lineup …
“This has nothing to do with skill or Derick Brassard being out of the lineup. It has everything to do with our competitive level.”
Columbus Blue Jackets Player QuotesBlue Jackets Goaltender Steve Mason
Commenting on the club’s lack of scoring…
“Yeah, it’s really frustrating. Obviously you can’t win if you’re not scoring and we’re definitely not doing that right now.” Commenting on the back-to-back losses…
“We’re not scoring enough to win right? So, in order for us to win we’d have to pitch a shutout every game too, so it’s hard.” Blue Jackets Left Wing Rick Nash
Commenting on tonight’s game…
“Scoring is obviously a big part of our offense; you’ve got tons of guys in here that can score and you know, we’ve got to do our jobs.” Commenting on getting off to a better start…
“They (Los Angeles) were playing well. It would have been nice to have that momentum. We needed to be better from the start, you know we can get a lot of goals on our back and then use that as an excuse, so we needed to be better form the start. Los Angeles Kings Head Coach Terry Murray
Commenting on his team’s taking a 2-0 lead after the first period
“The first period was probably our best first period of the year. We came out and responded to a disappointing game, the way we finished in Detroit and back the game before that in Buffalo. The players felt a responsibility to come out with lots of energy and they did.” Commenting on the play of goaltender Jonathan Quick
“He is player better each day out. He was better this game than he was in practice yesterday and the day before that. I thought the team played well in front of him. I thought we had good sticks. We deflected a lot of pucks and when he was called on to make a save, he was there.” Los Angeles Kings Goaltender Jonathan Quick
Commenting on the defense in front of him…
“Our penalty kill and our defense played excellent all game long. When they had their chances we cleared rebounds, picked up sticks in front, they took care of most of the work for me.” Commenting on playing with a lead…
“It always helps to be playing with the lead, whether you’re at home or on the road. We got out there early and put one in. We played well behind it and we were able to carry it out for the whole 60 minutes.”By Alan Young