LOS ANGELES, Calif. – After earning his first NHL shutout in only his second career start, Martin Jones might be yet another potential star in the Los Angeles Kings’ crease.
Or he might be further proof that any good goalie can be great with the Kings’ formidable defence in front of him, particularly against the feckless New York Islanders.
Even Jones was leaning toward the latter theory after the Kings’ 3-0 victory Saturday night, but the teammates chanting his name in the dressing room gave him a bit more credit.
“It’s easy to play with confidence when you’re behind these guys,” said Jones, who made 16 saves. “They take a lot of pride in their defensive zone, and we did a great job. The guys have been awesome since I’ve been up here. It’s a great group of guys, and I’m happy to be able to get a couple of wins for them.”
Anze Kopitar scored in another dominant defensive performance by Los Angeles, which hasn’t allowed more than two non-shootout goals in any game since Nov. 2, earning a point in 14 of those 15 contests.
Dustin Brown also scored and Tyler Toffoli added an empty-net goal for the Kings, who won their third straight overall despite a power play that’s in an 0-for-33 slump.
Before beating Anaheim four days ago in his NHL debut, Jones spent the previous three weeks backing up Scrivens during Jonathan Quick’s absence with a long-term groin injury.
“It’s been awesome to see both (Scrivens and Jones) come in and play as well as they have,” Brown said. “We have a lot of guys that do the right thing defensively. All of our team is sticking with it, and you see the results in games like this.”
Although Scrivens skated out first for the Kings’ warmups, coach Darryl Sutter told Jones in the late afternoon he would get his second straight start. Sutter wouldn’t say why he chose Jones over Scrivens, or who might play first on the Kings’ upcoming road trip.
Jones followed up his 9-for-9 shootout performance against Anaheim with a perfect effort against the Islanders, who have lost nine in a row.
“It wasn’t an easy game to play in,” Islanders forward Kyle Okposo said. “Obviously, they’re a really good hockey team for a reason. They all buy in and play the game the right way. They played their systems well tonight, and we just had a tough time.”
Kevin Poulin stopped 21 shots for the Islanders, on their longest losing streak since dropping a franchise-record 14 straight in late 2010.
New York has lost nine straight road games since Nov. 1, getting outscored 38-14 during its longest road skid since 1998-99.
“I know what our record is, but it’s not like we’re getting dominated in these games,” Islanders coach Jack Capuano said. “If we’re not going to score any goals, it’s going to be tough for us. We didn’t generate (anything) on our power play, and that’s probably the difference.”
After a scoreless first period, Islanders captain John Tavares set up his teammates for a pair of fine scoring chances during second-period power plays, but Thomas Vanek and Brock Nelson both failed to capitalize. Josh Bailey missed his own chance, clanging a backhand off the crossbar on a near-breakaway.
Kopitar finally got the Kings on the board thanks to an exceptional long pass from Alec Martinez, who found his Slovenian teammate lightly marked at the far blue line. Kopitar slipped into the slot and used a slick move to score his eighth goal. The Kings’ perennial leading scorer has 20 points in the last 22 games.
Brown added his sixth goal midway through the third period, capitalizing on confusion behind Poulin to gather the puck for an easy wraparound score. The Kings’ captain is having a rough offensive season, but has scored goals in consecutive games for the first time since late March.
NOTES: New York dressed rookie C Nelson and scratched C Peter Regin, who had missed just one game all season. Regin is scoreless in his last 17 games. Poulin made his first start in a week after Anders Nilsson played the Isles’ last three games. … Los Angeles wore its purple-and-gold throwback jerseys on a “Legends Night” honouring Hall of Fame defenceman Larry Murphy, who set NHL records for most assists and points by a rookie defenceman with the Kings in 1981. … The Kings open a four-game trip Tuesday in Montreal. … New York has lost on the first two stops of its five-game West Coast road swing.