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Kings hand Islanders ninth straight loss

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- Los Angeles Kings coach Darryl Sutter typically doesn't offer much detail on his goalies, so it was left up to Martin Jones to divulge when he found out he was starting Saturday.

"Late [Saturday]," Jones said. Pressed further, he said, "This afternoon."

Neither Sutter nor Jones had an answer for why Ben Scrivens led the team out for pregame warm-ups, and it seemed superfluous after Jones recorded his first NHL shutout in a 3-0 win against the New York Islanders at Staples Center.

Jones made 16 saves and Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown and Tyler Toffoli scored as the Kings improved to 10-1-4 in their past 15 games; excluding shootout goals, L.A. has held opponents to two goals or fewer in every game of that stretch.

Jones didn't have a ton of work as the Islanders had 11 shots through 45 minutes and finished with 16, matching their season low. Jones also didn't get much offensive support early as the Kings' power play extended its drought to 0 for 29. But he is 2-0-0 in his NHL career.

"It's been a good start, but I'm not here to win two games," Jones said. "There's a lot of work ahead. I don't want to stop now. I want to keep on building off this, and keep continuing to get better."

There was some speculation about whether Jones would start after he beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 in a lengthy shootout game Tuesday. Sutter has been critical of Scrivens lately, but apparently he was going to give him the start until the late change.

Asked whether Jones was making it difficult for him to decide who starts, Sutter said, "It was supposed to be the other guy's start" and declined further comment.

What wasn't a mystery was how the Kings shook off a flat start and used their clamp-down defense and penalty-killing to make Jones' life easier. L.A. has killed 46 of the past 49 opposition power play and 53 of 57.

"I think that's just the M.O. of our team is sticking with it," Brown said. "I would imagine we're not an easy team to play against. We got more physical as the game went on. We just needed to be sharper and [have] more of than in the early part."

Brown made it 2-0 when he scored on a wraparound at 10:37 of the third period. Justin Williams chipped the puck behind the net and Jarret Stoll sent a pass between his skates to a cutting Brown, who scored his second goal in as many games. Toffoli added an empty-net goal.

While L.A. celebrated with Jones, the Islanders were left in a familiar place.

They are on a nine-game winless streak (0-7-2), their longest since they dropped 14 in a row from Oct.23-Nov. 24, 2010. They have also lost nine straight on the road, all in regulation, their longest such streak since Dec. 20, 1998-Jan. 16, 1999.

"We played well for 30 minutes and then kind of shot ourselves in the foot a little bit, but we were right in the game," forward Kyle Okposo said. "We've got to find a way to win because this is unacceptable."

The Islanders' record didn't seem to be a factor going in because L.A. had lost to the Calgary Flames twice, the Nashville Predators and Buffalo Sabres this season.

Los Angeles appeared headed down that path again until Kopitar provided the jump-start L.A. needed with his highlight-reel goal in the second period. Kopitar collected a terrific outlet pass up the right boards from Alec Martinez, cut left on defenseman Travis Hamonic and roofed a shot past goalie Kevin Poulin at 12:08 for his eighth goal.

The play started when Michael Grabner whiffed on a shot in the Kings' end.

The Islanders had at least three great scoring opportunities prior to Kopitar's goal. Thomas Vanek fanned on John Tavares' cross-crease feed and couldn't backhand in the loose puck during a power play, and Josh Bailey backhanded the puck off the post on a breakaway despite taking a high stick from Jake Muzzin.

Casey Cizikas also missed a partial shorthanded partial breakaway early in the second.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano expressed frustration knowing the game was closer than the score indicated. The Kings were held to a modest 25 shots.

"I know what our record is," coach Jack Capuano said. "It's not like we're getting dominated in these games. They scored on a 1-on-4 that we got beat. They scored on a wraparound, and we had a chance shorthanded that hit a post. If we're not going to score any goals, it's going to be tough for us."

Capuano cited his top line of Vanek, Tavares and Okposo, who combined for three shots.

"That top line that we have is a line that has to realize that they have to shoot a little bit more," Capuano said. "They've got to get pucks to the net. They make those little plays to the net … they've got to find a way score goals. That's the bottom line."

The Islanders played a fairly solid opening road period but couldn't finish on some quality chances. The Kings came out flat, committed 12 giveaways in the first 20 minutes and didn't generate much offense. Sutter was apparently concerned enough to put Mike Richards and Jeff Carter back together, with Kopitar, before he changed them back.

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