Game 18; 12-6-0
PHILADELPHIA — As impressive as they have been thus far, the Los Angeles Kings have not had an game so exciting and a finish so inspiring than they did on Tuesday night.
For Kings fans hoping for better efforts from their team against non-playoff clubs, they got just that and then some as the silver-and-black visited WellsFargo Center to take on the Philadelphia Flyers. But while the Kings were vying for their third-straight victory, the Flyers had different ideas as they opened the scoring, courtesy of a youngster’s first-career tally.
Despite the early goal, though, this was a goaltender’s duel as both Quick and Philadelphia’s Steve Mason were outstanding.
25 total shots were fired in the opening frame — 14 for Philadelphia; 11 for Los Angeles — but both netminders were solid. Steve Mason had spent most of the period flawless. However, that changed with just under five minutes left.
At the 15:06 mark and with the Kings on a power play of their own, Alec Martinez passed it over to linemate Jamie McBain who slapped his first past Mason to tie the game. Marian Gaborik was instrumental on the goal, screening the Flyers backstop to make the tally possible. Tanner Pearson picked up the second assist on the goal.
In the second, both Quick and Mason stole the show, stopping 10 and 11 shots respectively as neither team, despite a plethora of chances, were unable to score.
After seven penalties were called over the course of the opening two frames, the penalty boxes were empty in the third as the Kings outshot the Flyers by a 14-8 margin. Still, the silver-and-black fell behind.
At the 11:11 mark of the period, Claude Giroux regained the Philadelphia lead, taking a Jakub Voracek pass in front, wristing it past Quick for the score.
The Flyers would take their lead into the final minute of regulation, but the Kings were determined to tie it once again — and they did.
With Quick pulled for an extra skater, the silver-and-black were attacking in the offensive zone when Jake Muzzin wristed a shot on goal that found its way on the stick of Milan Lucic who tapped his sixth behind Mason to quiet the WellsFargo Center and send this one to overtime.
In the extra frame, the teams exchanged five shots each but again, both Quick and Mason were spectacular, making a series of game-saving stops to keep this contest going.
Nothing was settled in overtime, so it was off to the shootout — the first for the Kings this season.
After stops on Sam Gagner and Claude Giroux, the Kings had a chance to score and Anze Kopitar did just that, sniping his attempt into the top corner past a fooled Mason. Quick then made a sprawling pad save on Jakub Voracek to kick the Kings’ road trip off on a high note as they beat the Philadelphia Flyers by a 3-2 count.
The aforementioned Kings all played a positive role in their team’s win but in terms of non-goaltenders, it was Alec Martinez who stood out with his tireless defensive play. He led the way with five hits and three blocked shots while, at one point, rushing back to thwart a two-on-none scoring opportunity for the Flyers. Captain Dustin Brown and Trevor Lewis each had solid efforts as they both registered five shots apiece.
Back to the netminders, both were on their games on this night. But while Steve Mason made 36 saves, Jonathan Quick did one better, turning away 38 shots (41 counting the shootout) in what was arguably his best performance of the season so far en route to a third-straight win for the Kings.
On Monday, head coach Darryl Sutter, in hopes of lighting a fire under his Kings, had his team practice at 8am in Los Angeles in an effort to get his team acclimated to the eastern time zone. The tactic paid off as the silver-and-black came out with a solid, not to mention memorable, effort to earn the victory.
Momentum continues to be on Los Angeles’s side but they must now wait a few days for their next outing.
Kicking off their five-game road swing on a winning note, the Kings will hope to keep their winning ways intact as they travel to the Motor City on Friday to visit the Detroit Red Wings.