Quick returns as Kings edge Canucks
LOS ANGELES -- After suffering though a season-long five game losing streak, the Los Angeles Kings got back on track at home with the help of a returning All-Star. Goaltender Jonathan Quick made 27 saves after a 24 game absence to lead Los Angeles to a hard-fought 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.
Winger Jeff Carter scored two third-period goals, including the game winner, to make Quick's return between the pipes a victorious one. Though Los Angeles held a wide margin in shots throughout the game, finishing with a 49-28 advantage, they could not solve Vancouver netminder Roberto Luongo until the final 20 minutes.
The Kings (26-13-4) opened a five game homestand and gained ground on the San Jose Sharks, who lost earlier in the day in Colorado. Los Angeles won all three games against Vancouver this season and gained a victory for the fourth time this season when trailing after two periods.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter said his team's hard work was finally rewarded and felt it was a matter of time before his team returned to the win column.
The last game we played we lost 5-0, but we thought we deserved a better fate," Sutter said. "You just have to stay the course."
Quick suffered a Grade 2 groin strain in a 3-2 loss in Buffalo on Nov. 12. While backups Ben Scrivens and Martin Jones performed well in his absence, Quick's performance left no doubt who is the No. 1 goaltender in Los Angeles. There was speculation earlier in the day that Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter would call on Quick, but it was only confirmed when he led the team out for the pre-game warm-up.
"Darryl asked me this morning if I was ready to play," Quick said. "When I said yes, it was time to play, all these games are very important with the conference so tight."
Luongo, who also returned to the lineup after a three game absence, stopped 45 shots to strengthen his bid for a berth on the Canadian Olympic team. Center Ryan Kesler scored the lone goal for Vancouver (23-13-7), which dropped its third straight game.
"You never want to give up a third period lead," Luongo said. "It would have been nice to win the game and pass them, but there's a lot of hockey left."
Vancouver coach John Tortorella was displeased with the effort after his team took the lead after the first period.
"Our game changed in the second period, after just an abysmal power play," Tortorella said. "They gained some momentum and we never regained any type of puck possession or zone time."
The schedule remains difficult for the Canucks, they travel down Interstate 5 to face a rested Pacific Division-leading Anaheim Ducks on Sunday evening before returning home to play the powerful Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues.
With the game tied with less than seven minutes to play, the Kings took their first lead of the night when Carter beat Luongo with a snap shot at 12:05. The play was made by winger Dwight King, who beat Vancouver defenseman Jason Garrison to the puck and fed Carter in stride. Los Angeles center Anze Kopitar drew the secondary assist on Carter's 13th goal of the season.
Vancouver had four strong chances to tie in the game's last minute with Luongo pulled for an extra skater, but Quick was strong to turn them away. He stopped winger Daniel Sedin twice from close-in, then winger Brad Richardson and Garrison before the Kings gained possession and Carter sealed the win with an empty-net goal with 10 seconds left.
The teams traded goals as the match stayed even until the second half of the final period. The Canucks opened the scoring when Kesler found the back of the net with Carter in the penalty box for holding at 12:27 of the opening period. The goal was Kesler's 16th of the season, with a secondary assist credited to center Henrik Sedin.
Los Angeles evened the game just 1:07 into the final period when winger Dustin Brown cashed in a rebound of a shot by winger Justin Williams. The goal ended a scoreless dry spell that extended over five periods over two games.
NOTES: Vancouver did not dress D Andrew Alberts. ... The Canucks have the best penalty-killing record in the NHL. They have a success rate of 89.2 percent, a significant improvement over last season's 84 percent. ... Canucks C Henrik Sedin extended his club-record consecutive games streak to 672. His streak started against the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 21, 2004. ... Kings coach Darryl Sutter coached in his 1000th NHL game. Sutter is the 24th coach in NHL history to reach the mark. ... Los Angeles scratched D Matt Greene, C Colin Fraser and G Martin Jones. ... The Kings traded LW Daniel Carcillo to the New York Rangers for a 2014 seventh round draft pick. Carcillo appeared in 26 games for Los Angeles and registered one goal and one assist. ... Kings C Jarret Stoll assisted on the first Kings goal since C Anze Kopitar scored in the third period of a 3-2 loss in Dallas on Dec. 31, a span of 119:22.