The Kings appear to have found the answer to their goal- scoring troubles and it has nothing to do with putting the puck in the opponents net.
Instead, Los Angeles continues to lean on goaltender Jonathan Quick and the league leader in shutouts will likely be called upon again this afternoon as his club tries to extend its nine-game point streak in a meeting with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Kings have been held to less than three goals in regulation in 18 of their past 20 games and are averaging a league-low 2.07 goals per game. However, Los Angeles is 6-0-3 in its past nine and still sits just a point back of first- place San Jose in the Pacific Division.
Needless to say, Quick has been the key. The netminder is 6-0-2 in his past eight games with a 1.20 goals-against average and .956 save percentage. Quick is coming off his career high-tying sixth shutout of the season, a 1-0 overtime victory over the Phoenix Coyotes in which he posted 22 saves.
"The shutout is great, but the two points is huge," said Quick, who notched the 20th shutout of his career.
Defenseman Drew Doughty scored 38 seconds into overtime, improving the Kings to 5-0-3 since Darryl Sutter took over as head coach.
"I finally contributed to a win," said Doughty, who scored his first goal since November 10. "It's been a while. It was good to get the monkey off my back."
Los Angeles has notched a point in each of the first three games of a six-game homestand and is 4-0-1 in its past five at home. The Kings have won four straight and seven of their past eight versus the Blue Jackets, including three of the last four in LA.
The Kings will look to stay unbeaten in regulation under Sutter, who took over for interim coach John Stevens after he replaced a fired Terry Murray on Dec. 12. One of the games Stevens was on the bench for was a 2-1 victory in Columbus on Dec. 15. Dustin Brown scored the go-ahead goal in the third and Quick made 24 saves.
Curtis Sanford turned aside 39-of-41 shots in defeat for the Blue Jackets and was just as solid in a tough-luck loss to the Sharks on Thursday. Sanford made 37 saves in a 2-1 setback that came in the opener of a four-game road trip and dropped the Blue Jackets to 2-8-2 in their last 12. They are last in the NHL with 25 points.
Vinny Prospal scored his first goal in 11 games for Columbus to give his club an early lead, but Ryan Johansen took a pair of high-sticking calls in the first. One was a double-minor that led to a San Jose goal.
"That gives them life and really jump-started them," said Columbus head coach Scott Arniel.
Mark Letestu logged an assist on Prospal's goal to give him five points in seven games, but he suffered a broken right hand that will put him on the shelf. Columbus recalled center Ryan Russell from the minors on Friday and he is expected to make his NHL debut today.