PHOENIX – Jonathan Quick may be on pace to equal last season’s start.
A year ago, the Los Angeles Kings won 12 of their first 15 games. At the beginning of the current season, the Kings are 4-1-1, and have allowed only nine goals in six games.
On Thursday night, Quick made 28 saves for his second straight shutout, leading the Kings to a 2-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes. Two nights earlier, Quick shut out St. Louis in the Kings’ home opener.
“This team has great accountability,” said Quick, who has 16 career shutouts. “We take pride in our defensive game, and have come to expect solid play on defence.”
Dustin Brown and Kyle Clifford scored in the second period.
Phoenix dropped to 2-3-1 in front of an announced crowd of 7,128.
In recording his 100th NHL win, Quick became the first Los Angeles goalie to turn in back-to-back shutouts since Mathieu Garon on April 1-3, 2006.
Quick was required to make only a few difficult saves. Two came in the first period when the goalie stopped defenceman Rostislav Klesla in close, and then deflected Ray Whitney’s 20-foot blast from the slot into the left corner.
Later, Raffi Torres, open in the slot, shot wide on a Phoenix power play 5 minutes into the final period, and late in the period with the Kings’ Mike Richards off for tripping, the Coyotes pulled goalie Mike Smith for an extra attacker, but could not dent Quick.
“Each guy is doing his job and it’s a total team effort,” defenceman Rob Scuderi said. “We’re playing a strong team game and when things are easy, they go your way.”
The Kings entered the game as the fourth-best defensive team, and proceeded to shut down Phoenix. Though the Coyotes outshot Los Angeles in the opening period, the Kings tightened through the final two periods and held Phoenix to a combined 17 shots.
In the meantime, Los Angeles eliminated good Phoenix chances by essentially standing at the blue line, and prevented the Coyotes from penetrating into the offensive end. Plus, the Kings’ solid puck movement through the neutral zone cut down on Phoenix’s chances against Quick.
The Kings struck early in the second period, and made that goal stand up. Brown banged in his own rebound on a power play less than a minute into the period, and that was all Quick needed.
“The bottom line is we have to find ways to win,” Phoenix coach Dave Tippett said. “We need to be more determined and would like to see us execute better with the puck.”
The Kings increased their lead when Clifford, crashing down the left wing, converted a pass from Kevin Westgarth into his first of the season at 15:23 of the second period.
Despite that the Kings opened with two games in Sweden, and five of their first six on the road, the 4-1-1 record is no mistake.
“When we saw the schedule, players began preparing for this stretch,” Kings coach Terry Murray said. “We have great leadership, veteran players and each took it upon themselves to recognize what we faced in the opening two weeks of the season.”
NOTES: Phoenix captain Shane Doan is a goal short of 300 for his 16-year NHL career. … Kings defenceman Drew Doughy missed his second straight game after sustaining an upper-body injury in Philadelphia. … The Kings return to Staples Center for games against Dallas and New Jersey. … After a trip to Anaheim, the Coyotes are home for games against Dallas, New Jersey and the Kings.