Kings, Jones blank Islanders
LOS ANGELES — When Los Angeles Kings starting goaltender Jonathan Quick went down with a groin injury in early November, there was great concern about the depth behind him. With each game, it appears the Kings have two NHL-caliber netminders manning the pipes until he returns.
Rookie goaltender Martin Jones stopped 16 New York shots for his second consecutive victory as the Kings beat the Islanders 3-0 on Saturday night.
After the Kings defeated the Anaheim Ducks in a nine-round shootout on Tuesday, coach Darryl Sutter gave Jones a second chance between the pipes despite having Ben Scrivens lead the team out of the pregame warm-up, usually an indication of the game’s starting goalie.
Sutter’s moves are paying off big for the Kings as they keep pace in the NHL’s Pacfiic Division with the Ducks and San Jose Sharks. He has flipped line combinations regularly and placed Jones in net despite Scrivens’ strong play.
“I thought he was really solid,” Sutter said. “He had some big saves for us. He really held us in there the first period. I thought he was outstanding.”
Though he was tested far less than his first game, Jones kept the Islanders off the board.
“It’s good. I mean any time you win, it’s a good feeling,” Jones said. “It wasn’t a ton of work early, but they had some zone time, so I was able to get in the game. I thought we got better as the game went on.”
The Kings improved to 19-7-4 and extended a club record by allowing two or fewer goals in 15 straight games. The offense produced goals from center Anze Kopitar and wingers Dustin Brown and Tyler Toffoli.
Goaltender Kevin Poulin stopped 21 shots for the Islanders, who lost their ninth straight game (8-17-5). That increased speculation that coach Jack Capuano is in danger of being replaced with former Islanders coach Peter Laviolette and current assistant coach Doug Weight.
Capuano addressed his team’s slide and blamed its lack of offense but not its effort.
“To me, I know what our record is, it is what it is,” Capuano said. “It’s not like we’re getting dominated in these games. They scored on a one-on-four and they scored on a wraparound. If we’re not going to score any goals, it’s going to be tough for us.”
Winger Kyle Okposo tried to put a positive spin on an increasing deteriorating situation in the Islanders’ dressing room.
“We played well for 30 minutes and then kind of shot ourselves in the foot a little bit,” Okposo said, “but we were right in the game. At the end of the day, we’ve got to find a way to win because this is unacceptable.”
Kopitar gave Los Angeles the lead after nearly 30 minutes with his eighth goal of the season at 12:08 of the second period. Kings defenseman Alec Martinez banked a pass off the right boards from his own zone, Kopitar picked it up in stride and beat Poulin with a cross-body slap shot.
The Islanders’ best chance to even the score came midway through the third period off a turnover, when Kings center Mike Richards’ errant pass wound up on the stick of center Casey Cizikas, but Jones kicked away his shot from the slot.
Brown gave the Kings an insurance goal with a wraparound shot off a pass from Jarret Stoll at 10:37 of the third period. Justin Williams added the secondary assist for his 21st point of the season.
Toffoli added an empty-net goal with 1:04 remaining to seal the victory with assists from Richards and defenseman Drew Doughty.
The teams played an uneventful scoreless opening 20 minutes with both sides failing to capitalize on one power-play opportunity.
The Kings got a second power-play chance at the start of the second period when Islanders defenseman Andrew MacDonald hooked Kings center Linden Vey. Los Angeles only managed two shots on goal and failed to score on its 27th consecutive power-play over their last eight games.
New York got its second opportunity with the extra man when Los Angeles center Jarret Stoll held Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic at 6:28 of the second period. The Islanders had a great opportunity to get on the board first, but winger Thomas Vanek whiffed in close off a feed from center John Tavares.
NOTES: New York scratched D Radek Martinek, C Peter Regin and LW Eric Boulton. ... The Islanders will finish their western swing with back-to-back games in Anaheim and San Jose on Sunday and Monday. ... Islanders rookie C Brock Nelson dressed after being a healthy scratch for three straight games. ... LW Kyle Clifford, LW Daniel Carcillo and D Jeff Schultz did not dress for Los Angeles. ... Kings D Matt Greene, presently on long-term injured reserve, continues to practice with the team and is close to returning to the active roster. ... Los Angeles embarks on a four-game, six-day road trip starting Tuesday in Montreal. Its record away from the Staples Center is 9-3-2.