Stop me if you’ve heard this before: A hockey team grinds out a strong performance with a sturdy compete level, wins the scoring chance and shots on goal battle and narrowly loses a low-scoring game as a heavily worked goaltender stands on his head. In the inverse of what seems like Every Single Kings Game, Los Angeles etched out a win after weathering a quick start from its opponent and perhaps benefiting from some fortunate bounces and near misses around its own net. It also won the special teams and goaltending battles – a good combination when playing away from home – and opportunistically struck twice against Ryan Miller. That this game was scoreless after one period tilted the win probability towards the Kings, and after Jonathan Quick made key stops on Alex Edler and benefited from Brock Boeser missing a wide open net during an early second period power play, the visitors were afforded enough time to get their game in order and answered back with a power play of their own as Alec Martinez’s ripper was deflected by Jarome Iginla past Ryan Miller for the game-winning goal.
While Los Angeles goaltending has stabilized after early season inconsistency, the goalies haven’t exactly stolen a ton of games outright. There were Peter Budaj’s wins in Pittsburgh and Anaheim, but as Quick and Ben Bishop have often played well, this might’ve been the first time in the post-Budaj reality where the Kings’ goalie had earned two points the hard way. While the performance this season hasn’t matched the pageantry or hallmark accolades of the 50th anniversary, there is still something so graceful about watching Quick when he’s on his game coming out to challenge shooters, tracking deflected pucks and making stops by any means necessary. His second period denial of Luca Sbisa on a four-on-three rush showed great reflexes as he got his left pad on the A-chance. In the third period, he won a battle with Daniel Sedin, one of his generation’s noteworthy goal scorers, who elegantly danced through the L.A. zone before Quick fought off his low-slot attempt. In an era where goaltenders have gotten bigger and bigger, watching Quick win a game in the style in which he did is just plain fun. This is preaching to the choir here, but there’s probably no goalie more exciting to watch than Quick.
So, Los Angeles or Nashville. (There’s a 99.6% chance it’s Nashville, which are much worse odds for the Kings than when they trailed the Sharks three games to none.) Any number of points gained by the Predators or not gained by the Kings equaling three puts an (x) next to Nashville and an (e) next to Los Angeles. Both teams have five games remaining, beginning with Preds-Wild today and Kings-Coyotes tomorrow.