Game 71; 40-25-6

LOS ANGELES – Since they haven’t always been great at afternoon games, the Los Angeles Kings could take solace in knowing that Saturday’s contest would be their final matinee affair this regular season. But whatever issues they had in previous matiness did not show on this day. From welcoming back an old foe to being as ready to play as they ever have in recent memory, the Kings made short work of the Florida Panthers, blanking them 4-0.

After tying the club record on Thursday versus Washington, Jonathan Quick entered Saturday’s game needing just one win for No. 172, putting him past team legend Rogie Vachon for first on the Kings’s all-time wins list. But Jonathan Quick simply wasn’t sitting back waiting to be the franchise’s winningest netminder. He came to play.

On the other end, the Staples Center faithful welcomed back Roberto Luongo, an enemy of the Kings from his days in Vancouver. Since being traded back to Florida just a few weeks ago, Bobby Lou was hoping for a fresh start against a team he generally struggled against. Unfortunately for him, it wasn’t to be on this day.

At the 11:03 mark of the first, the silver-and-black got things started the right way as Trevor Lewis knocked in his fifth past Luongo to put the Kings up 1-0. Kyle Clifford and Willie Mitchell provided the assists. But they weren’t done there as just over six minutes later, Mike Richards made a great individual effort from the corner, coming in and potting his 10th over Luongo to put Los Angeles up by a pair. The goal was just Richards’s third in his last 22 and his fourth in his last 46. No matter, however, because Richards came through when it mattered, giving his team that all-important insurance marker. Trevor Lewis picked up his second point on the day with his assist. Drew Doughty helped out with the second assist.

With all of the momentum in Los Angeles’s favour, they increased their lead.

At the 8:54 mark of the second period, captain Dustin Brown batted in his 13th, finishing off a great effort by Jarret Stoll to put the silver-and-black up by three. In addition to Stoll, Dwight King got an assist as well.

At the 11:59 mark of the third with the Kings on the power play, Alec Martinez took a soft but beautiful shot that beat Roberto Luongo and into the top corner to give Los Angeles a four-goal cushion. The goal was the ninth for the suddenly-hot Martinez from Slava Voynov and Jeff Carter. But even with their sudden surge in offensive, the Kings received no shortage of help from their netminder.

Jonathan Quick didn’t care to simply set a new franchise record. Instead, No. 32 was rock-solid in goal, making a few stops that, from the untrained eye, looked to be sure goals. Overall, Quick turned away 24 shots to pick up his fifth shutout of the season en route to his record-breaking 172nd victory. But with the goose-egg, Quick notches shutout No. 30, just two behind Rogie Vachon’s franchise shutout mark.

How funny is that. On the day he breaks Vachon’s wins record, Jonathan Quick matches the legend’s jersey number in shutouts. Furthermore, to tie said shutout mark, Quick will need to match his own jersey number of 32. This may just be a coincidence but something to think about nonetheless.

With the win, Los Angeles picks up their 40th win of the season. In their first 40 years of existence, the Kings notched the 40win-plateau just six times. With Saturday’s win, the Kings have reached said plateau in four-straight seasons that were not interrupted by a lockout. A stat like that simply underlines the strength of this franchise as a whole.

In addition to Quick’s big day, head coach Darryl Sutter earns his 501st win, tying him with the late, great Pat Burns for 16th on the NHL’s all-time wins list. Nashville’s Barry Trotz is next on that list.

It was an inauspicious start to this five-game home stand. Coming home after winning eight-straight, the Kings lost their first three on home ice before turning a corner on Thursday beating Washington before blanking the Panthers. In addition, not only did the Kings win both meetings versus Florida this season but they didn’t even let me score a goal, outscoring them 7-0 in the two meetings. Now, the Kings are 8-1-0 against Florida dating back to 2003.

Now, the Los Angeles Kings hit the road for three games beginning on Monday in the first of a back-to-back schedule. They kick things off in the City of Brotherly Love where they face a Philadelphia Flyers team who have won five-in-a-row.