LOS ANGELES – Jonathan Quick kept bending and stretching and sprawling, but he didn't break in the most crucial moment of the Western Conference Semifinals.
Goalie - LAK
GAA: 1.55 | SVP: 0.949
In the third period of Game 4 and the St. Louis Blues trailing, 2-1, David Perron got his stick on Kris Russell's rebound at the top of the crease and whacked it on goal. The puck skidded toward the goal line before Anze Kopitar nudged it into the outstretched glove of Quick.
It wasn't that Kopitar helped so much that Quick was able to reach back and put his glove there. Quick wasn't about to accept any praise, though.
"I think [Kopitar] got a piece of it, right?" Quick said. "I didn't think I made it. It was huge. It's a scramble play and that's something we've not only our defense and forward have been doing all year long, we've been getting back, helping out down low in front of the net. It was a key save right there."
Quick was his usual modest self after L.A. completed an impressive sweep of the Blues to advance to the conference finals for the second time in franchise history and first time since 1993. Quick was required to hold the fort under heavy duress. St. Louis outshot L.A., 13-2, in the second period and 24-19 for the game. It was just another day at the office for the young goalie.
"[Quick], in general, again," Jarret Stoll said. "They had a big push in the second period. We were on our heels a little bit. They were coming at us pretty hard. We didn't have great composure in the second period and [Quick] made some great saves."
Quick has stopped 260 of 274 shots in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for a .949 save percentage. He helped keep St. Louis to 0-for-17 on the power play throughout the series. The goal he allowed Sunday – a rocket shot by Kevin Shattenkirk that rattled in stick side -- was one of the few that Quick has given up with no traffic in front him.
He's otherwise become a sensation to those unfamiliar to him, with his crab-like style of looking under players to find the puck and his remarkable leg flexibility. Quick might cover the lower part of the net better than any goaltender in the NHL.
St. Louis coach Ken Hitchcock wouldn't argue.
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"He's the same as [Dominik] Hasek, the same as [Ed] Belfour – never quits on a puck," Hitchcock said. "It is a very unique skill. It is not common. He never stops looking for a puck. I think there are a few goalies left playing in the League who are like that right now. The guy in Phoenix is the same, so is the guy in Nashville. It is a very unique skill. It is not common. It is hard to find."
Quick's season has all the makings of a Conn Smythe Trophy-like body of work, but of course the Kings said to a man afterward that they are only halfway to their goal. Quick is almost catatonic in his meter and cadence and never strays away from his talking points about the next game.
He did allow himself a moment to take in the raucous Staples Center crowd witnessing some new history.
"Kind of a relief, especially the way that third period played out," he said. "The immediate feeling is relief and then excitement because we get to start it all over again and get ready for a Game 1 all over again. I think it's good to enjoy it. You work so hard for it. It's good to enjoy the series victory, but it's for a short time."
As L.A. moves on to a much bigger stage, Quick will take the spotlight again. The uninitiated will find that his story is a simple tale of getting overlooked. Quick was a third-round draft pick that won the job over the more highly regarded Jonathan Bernier, the 11th pick of the 2006 draft. He's always had a chip on his shoulder for being seen as "the other guy," and it appears to still be there even as the accolades pile up.
"We have not found a way to outwork him," Hitchcock said. "He made maybe five, six unbelievable saves off the second shot but that is who he is. He never quits on a puck and we weren't able to put it through him."
Quick is also known as a fierce competitor. Kings coach Darryl Sutter thinks his save percentage is the same in practice as it is in games. Quick is also known for his lack of emotion and a personality so even-keeled, he's almost withdrawn. But the smile he cracked in his postgame media scum said he's allowed himself to enjoy part of this ride.
He was aware of the team's track record of failure in the postseason and how long Kings fans have suffered, and was happy to relieve some of their pain.
"You heard the rink today, how loud it was," he said. "It means a lot more to them than it does to us. It [means] a great deal. It's a big push to us to win four in a row against a team like that. They were great all series long. It was a hard fought four games here. You heard the fans here, how loud they were those last few minutes and it gives you goose bumps."