On Jan 4, 2014, Los Angeles Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick returned to the team after having missed 24 games due to a groin injury suffered in a game against Buffalo on Nov 12, 2013. It could not have come at a better time. The Kings were mired in a five-game losing streak, and needed a boost.
In front of a standing room only crowd at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, Quick came up big in the big moments, in a 3-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Roberto Luongo was strong all night for the visiting team, and stopped 46 of 48 shots. Quick stopped 27 of 28.
It was also a nice result for Head coach Darryl Sutter, who was coaching his 1000th NHL game.
For a while, it looked as though the Kings' recent frustrations would continue. Despite outshooting Vancouver by a margin of 18-6 in the second period, and 35-19 overall, after two periods the visitors led 1-0.
That would change early on in the third period. At the 1:07 mark, Dustin Brown drove hard to the net, and converted a beautiful pass from Justin Williams.
With the score tied 1-1, Jeff Carter scored the game-winner 12:50 of the third, when he converted a spin-o-rama pass from Dwight King.
Carter would later add an insurance goal at 19:50, after Vancouver had pulled the goalie.
The Kings outshot Vancouver 49-28.
Jeff Carter now has 15 goals, which leads the Kings this season.
The Kings have won all three games played against Vancouver this season, and outscored the Canucks by a aggregate total of 11-4.
Said Jonathan Quick, regarding how he felt after his first game back - "It's good. We got a win. Coming into it that's the only thing we were looking at is trying to get two points, and we found a way to do it. We did it in regulation too. It's a team we are fighting in the playoff race here; it's huge to get regulation wins so they don't get a point out of it."
Quick also made the point that had he not felt he was 100% healthy, he would not have played.
Kings are now 26-13-4 (57 pts), and in third place in the Pacific division behind Anaheim (65 pts) and San Jose (58 pts).
Three stars of the game: 1) Jeff Carter, 2) Jonathan Quick, 3) Roberto Luongo
Kings forward line combinations:
*On Jan 1, 2014, Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick were named to the 2014 U.S. Olympic hockey team.