Game 61; 33-22-6
CALGARY – It was a somewhat prophetic start to the evening. Before the game, the Calgary Flames honoured a few of the Canadian Olympians. As for the Kings, they were reminded of the Olympic break they so desperately needed. After winning on Wednesday in Denver, the silver-and-black were looking to do the same on Thursday.
Just three minutes into the game, the Kings got the start they wanted as Dustin Brown scored his 11th to open the scoring. But that was it for offense for most of the evening.
On the other end, Joni Ortio was making his NHL debut in the Calgary and looked sharp in his first outing. But as good as the Finnish rookie was, Jonathan Quick was even better.
Through the first 40 minutes of the contest, the Flames were easily the better team. After slightly outshooting their opponents 8-7 in the first, Calgary poured it on it the second outshooting Los Angeles 15-6. But Quick was up to the task.
In his first game since representing the US in Sochi, Quick was in vintage form, slowing down (and frustrating) the Calgary onslaught which included four power plays. Even one man-advantage where the Kings should not have been shorthanded, No. 32 minimized any potential damage leaving the home team off the board.
Being outplayed through two periods and only leading by one goal would eventually lead to trouble for most teams – but not the Kings on this night.
At the 3:30 mark of the third, Dwight King wristed his 12th past Ortio to give Los Angeles some much-needed breathing room. Dustin Brown and Jake Muzzin chipped in with the assists. From there, it was all Quick.
Despite the pressure he must have felt in the opening two periods, Jonathan Quick was brilliant, ultimately stopping 25 shots for his 29th-career shutout and first star honours. The shutout moves Quick to within three of Rogie Vachon’s franchise record of 32 while the win pulls Quick to within four of Vachon’s franchise wins record of 171.
Going outside of the crease, the captain was the next-best player donning the silver-and-black on Thursday. I am the first one to admit how hard I am on Dustin Brown and while this was just one game, it is a great start. Against Calgary, Brown recorded his first multi-point game since October. On top of that, Brown recorded three points in the two games since Sochi. Before Sochi, Brown had a grand total of one road point – this according to TSN’s Chris Cuthbert who called the game north of the border.
Returning from the Olympic break, the Kings were given the unenviable task of playing back-to-back games. Nevermind. They won both as they head home with a great deal of momentum.
Friday is a much-deserved off day for the Kings as they prepare for a matinee date on home ice against the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday.