Todd McLellan, on the win:
I thought it was a really good night for us. A lot’s been made about not scoring the first goal, and I think we spoke about it yesterday in our scrum. It’s not always the be-all and end-all. It certainly would be nice, but the group was resilient, stuck with it, played the type of game I think we needed to play against this team. On our toes but patient, didn’t press too much. And they’re a big, physical, strong, heavy, stick-type of team, and I think we hung in there with them in those situations. Good to get a power-play goal. Nice to have it be the winner, and then a really strong third.
McLellan, on whether the game was indicative of the strides the team has made on special teams:
I would say that’s fair. When you look at the penalty kill, I don’t think we ever felt as bad as our number was showing up as – and that’s going to sound real strange. People are going to go, ‘you’re crazy because they’re scoring on you,’ yet we would do a lot of good things and it would find the back of the net somehow. Right now the puck is kind of going our way on the penalty kill, which is a good thing. The power play has still lost us a little momentum in some games, but it’s starting to create some as well, which is important, and at the end of the day, if we can be at 20% a night and getting a goal that helps us towards a win, we’ll take that type of power play.
McLellan, on whether the team is “forging an identity”:
I think we’re beginning to develop – the Kings, the LA Kings have always had an identity. We’re trying to change it a little bit, we’re trying to play a certain way, and I believe we’re working toward that. We still have a lot of work to do. We’ve got to go on the road, which we’ve got to prove we can implement the identity there. But we’re an aggressive team right now, we can check when we have to, and I don’t think we’re slow by any means. I think a lot of people predicted us to be a slow group of players, and we’re not that. I think that’s the players buying into what we’re trying to put in place and playing towards it night after night.
McLellan, on Jonathan Quick:
He’s like the penalty kill, really. His numbers don’t reflect how well he’s played. A couple games early in the year got away on him, and if you start with numbers that aren’t really good, whether power play, penalty kill or goaltender numbers, it’s hard to get them back. It takes a long time, but he’s been tremendous over the last little bit. We just feel – we, the staff; we, the players; we, the team – really comfortable when he’s in the net. Seeing the puck, making great saves, there’s not a lot of garbage that’s laying around for secondary opportunities, so he’s provided a real sense of confidence in the group right now.
McLellan, on the four-on-four shift that resulted in Matt Roy’s goal:
I believe in that situation we got … fresh guys out against a group of Islanders that may have been a little bit tired, so we were up on them a little bit as far as the change goes. And then the players that we had on the ice, there was some tenacity to their game. They were able to keep some pucks alive. Obviously the shot – I think you’d call it a ‘knuckler,’ but those are good ones to take. Trent Yawney always says never pass up shooting a rolling puck, because who knows where it’s going? Nobody does, and it paid off in that situation, so it was a really good shift by those players.
McLellan, on whether the team has removed the “panic” from its game:
It’s fair to say. I think the structure, the idea of playing a certain way is starting to become a little more natural, and in that case you just flow in from one job to the next job and you hand off responsibility, The panic earlier in the year was ‘I’m not too sure what I’m doing yet, and there’s a mistake I’ve got to go cover,’ and you start running around. We’re starting to settle in. We’re nowhere near where we need to be complete yet, but we’re working towards it. [Reporter: Do you think that’s helped you guys protect leads? You guys are 6-0 now when leading after two.] I think it does. Let’s face it, this group here has winners in that locker room. They know how to play in those situations. The empty-netter, both Brownie and Kopi stay over top of a bouncing puck, they stay underneath it, nobody cheated. It wasn’t about hitting the open net. They cleared the zone, and Alex cleaned up the garbage. There might be some teams in the league that either Kopi or Brownie is outside the blue line waiting and the job doesn’t get done. So we do have players that have experienced winning and understand how to play in those situations. Just putting it all together right now is what we’re working on.
McLellan, on whether their spot in the standings is “baffling” with performances like Wednesday’s:
No, I don’t think we can think that way. We weren’t very good at the beginning of the season. We were giving up six, eight goals in some games. We got what we deserved as far as points. That’s OK, that’s a month ago. It’s about building, and let’s keep plodding away and moving the needle. I think we used that term an awful lot. We’re where we are because that’s what we put into the season so far. We’ve worked hard. No one’s questioned that. We’ve been pretty honest. But we probably got what we deserved to this point, and we’ve got to make sure the next 25 are better than the first 25, and maybe we can crawl up a little bit.
McLellan, on whether the team has reduced its long chances against:
Yeah, we’re checking better, we’re checking for our chances. The long opportunities existed quite honest at the beginning of the year, and that was more confusion. It was ‘where should I be when this happens,’ and you’re thinking it’s getting away on you, but we’re getting better in those situations and players are comprehending reads and where to be at certain times.
McLellan, on what he’s thankful for:
You know what? I was asked this question the other day, and there’s two parts to it. There’s the hockey part and there’s the human part, and the human part, I’m thankful for family. I’ve got a great wife and two tremendous boys and a good family that’s all family. I’m very, very fortunate and we all c an’t say that. And then from a hockey perspective, I’m lucky to be here. I enjoy coming to work every day with the Kings, with the players. It’s actually really refreshing. They’ve been tremendous, they really have. They’ve put everything they can into getting better and trying to play the right way. Coaches can’t ask for more than that. [Reporter: Where were you at this time last year? I mean, I know you were in Canada-] Fired. [Reporter: Yeah, but were you watching your sons?] Right around now is about a week after I was fired, and I was transitioning from Edmonton to Kelowna and trying to get everything in order, and planning. I talked to Mike Babcock the other day, and that’s what he’s doing right now. He’s going to enjoy life for a little bit, recharge the batteries, and that’s where I was last year at this time. We were planning travel, planning to see the kids, figuring out what we were going to do.
Matt Roy, on the cohesion leading up to his goal:
It all started with a breakout. Joaki made a good D-to-D pass to me and we got moving up the ice. I gave it to Juice, he’s got great speed, so him and Lizo were able to create some space and get moving around in the O-zone. I guess that’s what started it, and Lizo made a great pass at the end there.
Roy, on the first game without Alec Martinez:
Obviously it’s tough losing him, but it gives us a chance as a unit, as a D-core to raise our games a bit, and just try to fill the gaps that are missed.
Roy, on the team’s improved play:
We know the teams coming in and we know when they’re hot, so it gives us a little bit of awareness, so hopefully we can bring that energy a little bit more and finish games out like this one.
Blake Lizotte, on how they defeated a team that checks well and plays with good detail:
Sticking to our game plan and not getting frustrated. It’s a 60-minute game, and they’re a team that has a lot of puck control. Matt Barzal, that whole line – you see, you watch the game, he’s flying around the ice the whole game and has a lot of puck time. So not getting frustrated with the lack of puck time on your stick is important, because once you get frustrated with that, you start to take chances and take risks that are unnecessary in your game and they’re going to capitalize on that. They’re a good team and they’ve shown that. They have points in 17 straight games.
Lizotte, on getting three points out of a pair of games against hot teams:
Absolutely. It’s huge for our team, especially where we’re at in the standings right now. It’s awesome for our team. The last five games we’ve built some momentum at home, and I think this kind of caps it off before we head out to San Jose. Like I said, they’re one of the best teams in the league right now, and to get a win over them is huge for us.
— With the win, Los Angeles improved to 49-46-15 all-time against New York, a record that includes a home mark of 29-18-8. The Kings are 8-1-1 in the last 10 home games in the series. These teams will conclude their season series February 6 at Barclays Center.
— With the win, Los Angeles improved to 2-4-1 against the Eastern Conference, 1-1-0 against the Metropolitan Division, 4-7 in games decided by three or more goals, 2-10-1 when scoring first, 3-3-1 when tied after one period, 6-0-0 when leading after two periods and 9-10-1 when outshooting their opponent.
— Jeff Carter (1-0=1) scored his team-leading fourth game-winning goal, tied for fourth most in the league. He became the 36th player in NHL history to score 80 game-winning goals and ranks fourth among active players.
— Over his last eight games, Jonathan Quick is 5-2-1 with a 2.13 GAA and a .919 save percentage.
— By assisting on Alex Iafallo’s empty-net goal, Anze Kopitar extended his point streak to four games (3-2=5). He has points in 10 of his last 11 games (6-8=14).
— The Islanders fell to 2-5-1 when they score fewer than three goals. They are 14-0-1 when scoring three or more.
— The Kings attempted 59 shots (30 on goal, 13 blocked, 16 missed). The Islanders attempted 56 shots (25 on goal, 16 blocked, 15 missed). Jeff Carter led all L.A. skaters and tied Anders Lee with a game-high four shots on goal.
— Los Angeles won 28-of-57 faceoffs (49%). Adrian Kempe won 0-of-3, Michael Amadio won 5-of-7, Anze Kopitar won 14-of-20, Kyle Clifford won 1-of-1, Trevor Lewis won 2-of-8, Dustin Brown won 1-of-1, Blake Lizotte won 4-of-12 and Jeff Carter won 1-of-5.
The Kings are scheduled to practice Thursday at 10:00 a.m. at Toyota Sports Performance Center in El Segundo before traveling to San Jose.