Welcome back, Jonathan Quick.
Starting for the first time since Oct. 12 — an absence of 59 games due to a groin injury — Quick was solid in his return against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday. He stopped 32 shots, allowing for the Kings to eventually find some offense in a 4-1 victory over their California rivals.
The Kings trailed going into the third period, but came alive with four unanswered goals for an important win in the Western Conference playoff race. Tyler Toffoli scored twice and Jeff Carter secured the win with his 30th goal of the season — after he appeared dazed in a fight with Ryan Kesler earlier in the game.
In typical fashion, tempers boiled over between these two teams. In typical fashion, Corey Perry was once again at the center of the mayhem. He tripped Anze Kopitar in the second period, leading to a melee before Brayden McNabb and Nate Thompson paired off in the main event.
“I think the game kind of led to the third. I thought we were playing great leading up to it,” said Quick, per LA Kings Insider.
“We were creating chances, played hard, heavy and I think if we don’t play like that in the first two periods we don’t get four in the third so we got rewarded for our work over 60 minutes.”
Again, this is a big win for the Kings.
Getting back into the top three in the Pacific Division seems like a tall, if not impossible order with 21 games remaining on their schedule and only four wins in their last 10 games. Anaheim, third in the division, is 10 points ahead.
But this win does help the Kings in their bid for a wild card spot.
They are only three points back of St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the conference. Nashville was victorious over Washington a few hours after L.A. defeated Anaheim, so the Predators move into third in the Central.
Quick winning in his return is huge news for the Kings. But more importantly, the players they rely on for offensive production came through. Kopitar had two assists. Carter had a two-point night. Ditto for Toffoli. Tanner Pearson had three assists.
It’s been a lack of production from top players that coach Darryl Sutter has lamented during his team’s recent struggles.
“It’s the only way we’re going to make the playoffs. Those guys held scoreless or shut down or outplayed by the other team’s top guys, we won’t make the playoffs,” said Sutter.
“They have to.”