The Los Angeles Kings came into this season looking for redemption after becoming the eighth team in NHL history to miss the playoffs a year after winning the Stanley Cup.
Lately, they have been showing the form that earned them championships in 2012 and 2014 _ particularly goalie Jonathan Quick.
Dwight King and Drew Doughty scored first-period goals, Quick made 29 saves and the Pacific Division leaders beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 on Saturday for their fifth straight victory.
“When you come to the rink on a winning streak, everything’s just so much more fun,” Doughty said. “We want to continue feeling that way. We don’t like coming to the rink unhappy.
“We’re playing with a lot of confidence right now, and it’s just gone through the whole team. Every single guy is playing that way, and that makes our team a lot better.”
Quick’s bid for his 41st career shutout, which would have snapped a tie with Frankie Brimsek and John Vanbiesbrouk for the most by an American-born goalie, ended with 12:10 to go when Brayden Schenn scored a power-play goal against his former team.
Philadelphia’s Michal Neuvirth, who sat out the previous five games because of an illness, made 30 saves in his first start since Dec. 15. But it wasn’t enough to prevent a fifth straight road loss for the Flyers, three of them coming on this California trip.
“We’ve got to make sure we don’t turn the puck over, especially at our blue line and early in the game,” Neuwirth said. “Hockey is about mistakes, and we made a couple in the first period that cost us the game.”
The Kings, whose 10-3-1 record in December was their best in franchise history for that month, opened the scoring at 7:33. King got his second goal in three games after missing the first 35 of the season because of a broken foot.
“I don’t think anybody planned this kind of outcome, but I’ll take them and hopefully just keep going,” the sixth-year forward said.
King finished off a slick give-and-go with Marian Gaborik with a one-timer from the right circle after defenceman Radko Gudas’ weak clearing attempt was intercepted by Gaborik just inside the Flyers blue line.
“He made a nice play to create a turnover and kind of bumped it over to me,” King said. “When I got it, I saw Trevor (Lewis) on the far side, and saw that was where the goalie was anticipating. Then I saw that I had a little more net to shoot at, so I took a shot.”
Anze Kopitar helped set up Doughty’s power-play goal by intercepting another attempted clearing pass inside the Philadelphia line, this one by Ryan White. Jake Muzzin got the puck from Kopitar and fed Doughty for a one-timer from the top of the circle that beat Neuvirth high to the glove side at 17:16, while rookie defenceman Shayne Gostisbehere was serving an interference penalty.
“Our forecheck is obviously one of our strong suits,” Doughty said. “We love getting the puck in deep, then getting in on the forecheck. We have big bodies to make the other team turn over pucks, and then our mindset is getting to the net as quick as possible. We did on both of those opportunities, and both ended up as goals.”
Kings captain Dustin Brown echoed Doughty’s sentiments.
“Sometimes you catch one that doesn’t come all the way out and it ends up in the back of their net. So it’s something we have to continue to do,” Brown said.
NOTES: Six of Doughty’s seven goals have come on the power play. … Brown has no goals in 14 career games against Philadelphia, the only NHL team the 12-year veteran has never scored against. … Flyers D Michael Del Zotto, whose average ice time was a team-high 23:54 entering Saturday, was back in the lineup after missing two games because of an upper-body injury. … Flyers RW Wayne Simmonds, who spent his first three NHL seasons with Los Angeles, got the primary assist on Schenn’s goal and Jakob Voracek got the secondary assist. All 12 of Voracek’s points on the power play have been assists. … Simmonds has two goals and two assist in seven games against the Kings since he was traded to the Flyers along with Schenn in June 2011 for Mike Richards.