LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings took another step toward their first playoff berth since 2002, while the New York Islanders headed home after a pair of frustrating one-goal defeats in Southern California.
Jonathan Quick posted his fourth shutout of the season and Brad Richardson scored in the first period, leading the Kings to a 1-0 victory on Saturday night.
“At this point in the year, you take it however you get it,” Kings captain Dustin Brown said. “We had the intensity and the four lines, but the only thing I think we lacked was the killer instinct. We’ve had it in certain games where we’ve had it and put games away. Tonight we didn’t do that.”
The Kings climbed over Colorado into sixth place in the Western Conference. They have a six-point lead over ninth-place Calgary with 10 games left.
“It was a very important win,” coach Terry Murray said. “It’s a win that’s very hard to come by, because this is a game you’re supposed to win. And those are the hardest kind of games to win.”
One night after a loss at Anaheim in which they gave up the tying goal with 32 seconds left in the third period and the deciding goal 14 seconds into overtime, the Islanders absorbed their 12th one-goal defeat of the season and fifth this month.
New York is six points out of a playoff spot with 10 games remaining, but the Islanders would have to jump over five teams to qualify for the post-season.
Quick made 26 saves en route to his eighth career shutout and third in nine starts. He got a break less than 1½ minutes into the second period when rookie John Tavares beat him to the glove side and hit the right post with a wrist shot from the left circle.
The No. 1 pick in last year’s draft had another great chance with just over a minute left in the period, but Quick made a sprawling save on his stomach to stop Tavares’ short backhander.
“We had some glorious opportunities, but they got the best of us,” forward Matt Moulson said. “One big mistake cost us the game.”
Coming off a 3-0 home loss to Chicago, the Kings took the lead at 13:35 of the first with Richardson’s 11th goal. He beat Dwayne Roloson to the stick side with a wrist shot after forward Kyle Okposo lost control of the puck in the left corner and Wayne Simmonds passed it into the slot.
“Simmer made a great play,” Richardson said. “He kind of waited for their guy to swing away from him, and I tried to shoot it as quick as possible.”
Richardson didn’t have a goal in 31 games with the Kings last season. He missed significant time because of a foot injury.
“This is a player that is backing up what he told me he could do in the exit meeting last year,” Murray said. “He was upset about what happened with the scratches, with the injury, and with the disappointment of not being able to contribute to the team. He voiced his displeasure to me and said he could do much more for the club. Now he’s stepping up and doing it.”
The Islanders are 0-4 with one tie against the Kings since beating them on Feb. 15, 2003, at Los Angeles. This was their first visit since a loss on Oct. 12, 2006.
Roloson stopped 25 shots, including Jarret Stoll’s bid for a short-handed goal with 15:44 left. The Kings thwarted all four Islanders power plays, extending Los Angeles’ streak to 24 straight penalty-kills.
“The penalty kill is just really about work and execution,” Brown said. “We’ve kind of gotten into a groove with short shifts.”
NOTES: Tavares is the second player in Islanders history to wear No. 91. The other was Butch Goring, who won the Stanley Cup four times with them after the Kings traded him in 1980. … The Kings are 27-0-0 when leading after two periods. They’ve won their last 30 games under those circumstances since a loss at Phoenix on April 2, 2009. … The Islanders have been shut out five times and are 1-27-4 when trailing after two periods.