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Quick, Kings blank goal-starved Sabres

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES - An anticipated showcase between U.S. Olympic goalie candidates Jonathan Quick and Ryan Miller didn't happen. Judging by Quick's performance, it might not have mattered.

Quick turned in his best game of the season Thursday night when he recorded his first shutout of the season, a 2-0 win against the Buffalo Sabres at Staples Center.

Quick, playing his 300th NHL game, made 19 saves and was part of a great special-teams night by L.A., which got power-play goals from Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar and killed off all four Buffalo power plays. It was the ideal remedy game for the Kings, who had four days off after a loss to the Nashville Predators.

Quick said the rest helped.

"Obviously with the Olympic year, you kind of get run around a little bit, so you miss some days here and there with practice and being able to work on the details," Quick said. "We had a good three practices where we were able to get a lot of work done."

Quick typically shies away from Olympic talk, so it's notable that he even referenced it. He has mostly been under siege this season because of L.A.'s plethora of penalties and hadn't really had a truly dominating game. At least one Sabre could see why he's a good pick to start for the U.S. in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"He was very good," Buffalo captain Steve Ott said. "I can think of some grade-A scoring chances we had in the first two periods. He was very solid tonight, very deserving of his shutout. He was excellent."

L.A. continued to see scoring emerge from its centers after it played the first 10 games of the season without goals from any of them. Richards has four goals and four assists in L.A.'s past seven home games, while Kopitar has goals in three straight games.

Buffalo got 26 saves from Jhonas Enroth but was denied winning consecutive games for the first time this season. The Sabres (3-14-1) also saw defenseman Christian Ehrhoff leave the game in the third period with a lower-body injury, but coach Ron Rolston said he was OK.

It really wasn't a bad showing by Buffalo, which came out strong but couldn't put a puck past Quick after winning 5-4 in a shootout against the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

"He's one of the best goalies in the world," said former King Matt Moulson, who's also Quick's brother-in-law. "He gets in a zone like that and he's a tough guy to beat. We may not have had a lot of chances, but I thought we had a bunch of quality ones from in close and he obviously played well."

The game seemed to turn on a terrific right-to-left sliding pad save by Quick on Corey Tropp during a Buffalo rush early in the second period. Buffalo then gave L.A. a 4-on-3 power play after Jamie McBain high sticked Jake Muzzin and Drew Stafford slashed Dustin Brown.

"That's not a very good recipe when you want to have a successful night," said Rolston, whose team has scored 29 non-shootout goals in 18 games.

Kopitar set up on the right side and cranked Drew Doughty's feed past Enroth's glove side for a 2-0 lead at 12:18.

Richards got a crafty deflection for a power play goal to give L.A. a 1-0 lead at the first intermission. Muzzin had time to pause and then fire from the point and Richards got his blade on the shot with 36 seconds left in the period as he occupied the top of the crease.

Buffalo and L.A. rank 23rd and 25th in the NHL, respectively, in 5-on-5 scoring, so special teams were critical. The Kings improved to 6-for-17 on the power play in their past four games, and their leaky penalty-killer bounced back after allowing nine goals in L.A.'s six previous games.

"We played pretty well 5-on-5," Moulson said. "We lost the special-teams battle tonight. They had a couple of power-play goals and ours wasn't clicking very well. That was the difference."

The first 20 minutes were a lost opportunity for Buffalo, which came out with a strong road start and produced several quality chances while it limited L.A.'s shots before the Kings took back the momentum late.

"We played well in the first period," Rolston said. "We had some good chances, probably to get up 2-0. We had some looks in front of their goal but we didn't finish on them and they ended up finishing later in the period on the power play to make it 1-0 coming out of the first period."

The Sabres have been outscored 22-2 in the first period this season.

Center Linden Vey made his NHL debut for L.A. and played on both special teams units.

It was the first game between the teams since they played in the NHL Premiere series in Berlin, on Oct. 8, 2011.

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