LOS ANGELES – During even strength play, the Buffalo Sabres stayed right with the Los Angeles Kings.
However, the Kings scored twice on the power play and that was all they needed to defeat Buffalo 2-0 at Staples Center on Thursday. Mike Richards and Anze Kopitar scored for the Kings.
“That’s the difference. Their power play beat our penalty kill tonight. Five-on-five, I liked our play but we didn’t get the job done,” Sabres captain Steve Ott said.
Jonathan Quick was strong in net for Los Angeles, stopping 19 shots to earn the shutout, the 26th of his career. The game was Quick’s 300th in the NHL. He made his NHL debut against the Sabres on Dec. 6, 2007.
Sabres goaltender Jhonas Enroth rebounded from a tough night in his last start, in which he surrendered six goals. He made 26 saves against the Kings on Thursday.
The Kings were tied for the eighth-best power play in the NHL heading into the slate of games on Thursday and took advantage of two of their five opportunities against Buffalo. With the pair of goals in the game, Los Angeles is now 6-for-17 on the power play in their past four games (35.3 percent).
A late first-period goal by Richards gave Los Angeles the lead. During their only man-advantage opportunity of the first period, with Tyler Myers in the box for interference, the Kings went to work. Richards deflected in a point shot by Jake Muzzin in front of the net through Enroth’s five hole to put the Kings up 1-0 with 35.9 remaining in the first period.
“I think I bounced back and played a very solid game,” Enroth said. “I don’t think I made any big mistakes. I think I could’ve maybe done something else on the first goal, but it was a deflection in front of me so it’s a tough break for us, too with [35.9] seconds left in the period.”
Los Angeles went ahead 2-0 on a 4-on-3 power play with 7:42 remaining in the second period. Kopitar one-timed a cross-ice pass from Drew Doughty in. Kopitar partially fanned on the shot and he puck fluttered into a hole between Enroth’s left arm and his body.
“They’ve been together for a long time so they have continuity in their power play. It’s a 1-0 game and we’re on the power play and two minutes later, they have a [4-on-3]. So that’s not a real good recipe if you want to have a successful night,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said.
The Sabres had the man-advantage in that situation before Jamie McBain took a high-sticking penalty 26 seconds into the power play. Forty-four seconds, later Drew Stafford was sent to the box for slashing, setting up the Kings for the second goal.
“We need to get a kill at that right moment when it feels like we’re going to start losing momentum in the game,” Sabres forward Brian Flynn said.
Tyler Myers racked up 11 penalty minutes in the game as he was whistled for three minor penalties in addition to his five-minute major for fighting Matt Frattin.
“It’s too many,” Rolston said of the number of penalties Myers committed.
Christian Ehrhoff left the game 2:04 into the third period and did not return. Rolston said he should be fine for the team’s game against the Anaheim Ducks on Friday.
The Sabres hoped to build on a shootout win over the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday, but despite their efforts, came up short. However, Ott said that the team is showing some good signs they need to continue building on.
“It was the same as San Jose. Our passion and pride’s been way better in the last two games,” he said. “That’s the way we have to play to have any success in this League and we need to continue to do so. If we play the other way, it’s going to get ugly in a hurry so we need to work, a continued work ethic and we need to drop this game and bring it again tomorrow night.”
The Sabres will try to collect more points in the final game of their California road trip against the Ducks on Friday at 7 p.m. (10 p.m. in Buffalo) at Honda Center.