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The Key Three: March 28

by Rich Hammond / Los Angeles Kings
Three key aspects of the Kings’ 3-0 victory over the Calgary Flames...

One of the most frustrating things about the Kings’ play under Terry Murray was their tendency to start slow. Too often, the Kings looked tentative and passive in the opening minutes, and looked as though they were waiting to see how the other team wanted to play. That’s an exceedingly difficult way to play, especially on the road. Last night’s game provided a stark contrast. The Kings had six shots on goal before the game was two minutes old, and the Flames looked like they had walked through a tornado. Willie Mitchell’s goal, at the 5:30 mark, rewarded the Kings for their great effort at the start, and they didn’t look back.

It stood to reason that the Flames would come out playing for their lives to start the third period. They had to know that a regulation loss to the Kings would all but certainly put a dagger in their playoff hopes The Flames trailed 2-0 but had a power play for the first 1:10 of the third period. An early goal would get the fans back into the game. But the Kings looked just as composed and strong as they did in the first two periods. They killed the penalty with relative ease. Then, in an even more encouraging sign, they didn’t let up. The Kings continued to take the action to the Flames and actually outshot them 9-4 in a period the Flames desperately needed to win.

It’s not Jonathan Quick’s fault that the Kings lost to Vancouver on Monday. A goalie who gives up one goal -- even if it is a soft goal, as Manny Malhotra’s goal was -- should have a reasonable expectation of winning a game. But it’s easy to see, early a game, whether Quick is going to be sharp or not. In the Vancouver game, he looked a bit skittish. Against the Flames, he looked like he wasn’t going to lose. Quick always has an ability to make athletic saves, but at his best, he’s also economical in his movements and gives off a look and feel of composure. Quick made a brilliant early stop on Alex Tanguay, and went on to record his record ninth shutout.
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