UNIONDALE, N.Y. - The talk before the season was that the Los Angeles Kings were ready to contend for a playoff berth. Five games into the season, they're turning words into deeds.
The Kings made it four wins in a row as Jonathan Quick, named earlier in the day as the NHL's Second Star of the Week, continued his early-season excellence by stopping 28 shots Monday afternoon and leading the Kings to a 2-1 victory against the New York Islanders at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum.
Quick, who has played every minute of the Kings' first five games, was 1:55 away from a shutout before former L.A. forward Matt Moulson scored on a backhander from the slot that went through a pile of bodies.
The Kings, who won 2-1 Saturday at St. Louis, improved to 2-0-0 on a six-game road trip that continues Wednesday night at Madison Square Garden against the Rangers.
"He's playing better every game," coach Terry Murray said of Quick, who grabbed the No. 1 job midway through last season and shows no signs of relinquishing it. "He came up with a big effort in St. Louis and again today."
Quick's teammates have developed confidence in him, too.
"We have all the confidence in the world in him," said center Anze Kopitar, whose power-play goal at 18:33 of the second period opened the scoring. "He's earned it."
Kopitar put the Kings ahead to stay when he beat Martin Biron from near the left dot through a screen during a power play. Drew Doughty made it 2-0 at 5:31 of the third period with a 40-footer through a screen. That wound up as the game-winner when Moulson scored his second of the season.
Murray was also impressed with the play of Doughty, the No. 2 pick in the 2008 Entry Draft, who played despite some broken teeth.
"He's a real hockey player," Murray said. "There's no way he was going to miss any time."
It was the first time in his four NHL games that Isles rookie John Tavares, the No. 1 pick in the Entry Draft in June, was held without a point. Still, Murray was impressed.
"He has great composure, great awareness," he said. "He's able to find the right places to be in order to be an offensive producer. Today we got some sticks in the way or there wound have been a few passes right on his stick."
It was also the winless Islanders' first regulation loss. They had dropped two of their first three games in shootouts and the other in overtime – including a 4-3 shootout loss at Boston on Saturday in which they blew a 3-0 lead in the final 8:01 of regulation.
They lost despite allowing only 22 shots by the Kings -- but 13 came in the second period, when the Kings dominated. Coach Scott Gordon said the Isles paid the price for some second-period laziness.
"We didn't give up a lot," Gordon said, "but we have to generate more offense -- and you can't do that by taking shortcuts.
"Our first period was pretty good. Our third period was pretty good. But there were a lot of shortcuts in between."
"He's playing better every game. He came up with a big effort in St. Louis and again today."
-- Terry Murray on Jonathan Quick
Chances were few and far between during the scoreless first period. The best chances belonged to the Islanders late in the period. Just after the 15-minute mark, Kyle Okposo
was stopped from close-in by Quick. With just more than 90 seconds remaining, Quick stopped Rob Schremp on a wide-open 15-footer from the slot.
The Islanders finished the period with an 11-4 advantage in shots. Los Angeles had just one shot in the final 12:45 of the period. The Islanders also outhit the Kings 19-2.
The Kings matched their first-period shots total in the opening 1:57 of the second period. Justin Williams
had the best chance but was denied by Biron from the slot.
Quick made a fine save near the nine-minute mark when he got a piece of Schemp's screened 35-footer from the slot. The teams alternated short periods of in-zone dominance, but neither was able to put on sustained pressure through the first half of the period.
The Kings got the game's first power play at 12:12 when Sean Bergenheim was called for slashing. But after controlling the puck in the Isles' zone for more than a minute, Islanders forward Tim Jackman stole the puck and started a 2-on-1 break, drawing a penalty on Williams at 13:53. But the power play generated little offense.
Los Angeles got another power play when Blake Comeau was called for hooking Ryan Smyth at 16:39, and this time the Kings cashed in. Kopitar was near the left dot when he sent a wrist shot through a screen and beat Biron just under the crossbar for his fourth of the season.
The line of Kopitar, Smyth and Williams wasn't formed until training camp but is turning into the Kings' top unit.
"They worked hard to figure out where each other would be and how to play with each other," Murray said. "It's nice to see some results."
The goal seemed to inspire the Islanders, who pressured the Kings in their zone and earned a power-play when Jack Johnson was called for holding with 14.7 seconds left in the period. But as had happened on their first advantage, the Islanders generated nothing.
The Kings took the life out of the matinee crowd when Doughty, set up at the right point, took Jarret Stoll's pass-out from the left corner, stepped into the high slot and blew a high slapper past a screened Biron for his second of the season and first since Opening Night.
-- John Kreiser, NHL.com