Game 63; 34-22-6
LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Kings got off to a fast start and they just kept the intensity going for the rest of the game. Seeing this was definitely a breath of fresh air for fans of the silver-and-black even though their team entered this contest winners of four-straight. Nevertheless, the Kings came out firing, stayed hungry and in the end, the hard work paid off as they downed by the Montreal Canadiens 2-1, sweeping the season series.
The last time the Canadiens were in Los Angeles was December 3, 2011. While Los Angeles did lose that afternoon, something abnormal did happen as then-King Dustin Penner scored a goal - his first of the season at that point. Fast-forward 27 months later and fans witnessed said abnormality of seeing their team start strong, finishing strong and remaining so in between. But unlike Penner's goal then, don't expect this occurrence to fade. After all, if the last couple of seasons are any indication, the Kings play better and better as the season progresses - and that was proven on this night.
In his 700th-career NHL game, Jarret Stoll was hoping to contribute towards another win for his team. While he may not have registered any points, Stoll was critical in the faceoff circle which led to the Montreal attack getting frustrated, not being able to tie the game in the late stages. But Stoll wasn't the only King to celebrate a milestone on this evening.
Early in the second with the game tied 1-1, Jeff Carter took a beautiful feed from Anze Kopitar and one-timed past netminder Peter Budaj to put Los Angeles back out in front. The goal was Carter's 22nd of the year but more importantly, it was the 250th of his career. Even better, the goal stood as the game-winner. Alec Martinez, by the way, helped out with the second assist.
Before that, though, the Kings had a first period to remember. While they and the Habs were even in the shots department with five, it was the silver-and-black who dominated the tone, outskating, out-moving and out-chancing their opponents. Jake Muzzin opened the scoring 1:54 into the game from Tyle Toffoli and Justin Williams but that was all the scoring the Kings could manage in the opening frame. But that was okay. Even a strange goal by Montreal's PK Subban later in the period didn't deter the Kings. They kept their focus and in the end, they were rewarded for it.
While he may not have been the one with the biggest impact for his team, Jonathan Quick was nonetheless the most important as he stopped 18 shots, including a number of late ones, to preserve the victory, Los Angeles's fifth-straight. With the win, Quick earns career victory No. 168, just three behind the franchise mark of 171 set by Kings legendary netminder Rogie Vachon.
While Dustin Brown saw his point-streak end at three games, Justin Williams continues to produce. His assist on Muzzin's goal makes it five points in four games for the 32-year-old after recording just a single point in his previous 14.
This was the last of a mini two-game homestand for the Kings and also their last game before Wednesday's trade deadline. While stress may play a factor for the Kings over the next 48 hours, the team does have a couple of days off before hitting the ice in blistering-cold Winnipeg where they will battle with the Jets on Thursday.