LOS ANGELES (AP) — It was just about this time last season when the Los Angeles Kings went on an eight-game winning streak and used it as a springboard to their second Stanley Cup title in three years.
This season is beginning to look similar.
The Kings won their eighth in a row Tuesday night, with Jonathan Quick earning his fourth shutout as Justin Williams’ early power-play goal stood up for a 1-0 victory over the Detroit Red Wings.
“It’s tough to compare teams. Every year is different and every situation is different,” said Williams, last year’s Conn Smythe Trophy winner as playoff MVP. “You go through ups and downs each season that are never really the same. But I look around here and I have faith in everybody on this team. There’s a lot of familiar faces, and when push comes to shove, I know the guy sitting next to me is going to get it done.”
The Kings handed the Red Wings their third shutout of the season. Quick, who has allowed just five goals in the last five games, made 20 saves to increase his club-record shutout total to 35. He was 1-7-1 with a 3.44 goals-against average in his previous nine games against Detroit.
The shutout was the 200th for the franchise during the regular season. Quick, the Kings’ career leader in regular-season victories with 201, is one shy of tying the longest winning streak of his eight-year career.
“He’s been a rock throughout this winning streak, and he’ll continue to be,” Williams said. “He’s got a heavy workload right now, but he’s going to battle like he always does. It just feels like some nights you look at him and you look at the saves he makes and you think, you know what? He’s not letting anyone score tonight.”
Jonas Gustavsson stopped 26 shots in his fourth start of the season and first since losing 4-3 in overtime at the New York Rangers on Nov. 5.
“I just want to do whatever I can when I get the chance and show that I can be out there,” Gustavsson said. “I don’t know how many chances I’ll get, but in the end, it’s all about the team getting points and getting a good position in the standings to go on a playoff run.”
Gustavsson was sidelined almost three months because of a dislocated shoulder. He played only one other time for the Red Wings since returning from a brief minor league rehab stint. That was last Saturday at Dallas, when he relieved Jimmy Howard during the third period with a 6-4 deficit and got credit for the Red Wings’ 7-6 overtime win despite facing only two shots.
“I think Gus plays well all the time. He just doesn’t play because he’s been injured so much,” coach Mike Babcock said. “Gus gave us an opportunity tonight and our guys really battled hard. But they’re a good team, so there wasn’t much room out there and they kept us on the walls.”
The Kings, back indoors following their 2-1 victory over San Jose on Saturday at Levi’s Stadium, got the lone goal 2:24 in. Williams’ 16th was a deflection of Jake Muzzin’s slap shot from the left point 21 seconds after Drew Miller’s holding-the-stick penalty. The puck also changed direction off the leg of teammate Anze Kopitar on the way to Williams.
“It felt like it took us 5 or 10 minutes to find our legs out there, and they got a power-play goal kind of right away,” Detroit left wing Justin Abdelkader said. “Once we got settled down, I thought we did a lot of good things out there. Obviously, they are a good team. Their defensemen are big, they like to be physical and take the body. There wasn’t a lot of room out there.”
The Red Wings came in with the NHL’s best power-play conversion percentage (25.9). But they equaled their worst effort of the season in that department by going 0 for 5 against a Kings squad that was short-handed no more than three times in any of its previous 10 games.
“The PK was great. They have one of the top power plays in the league, and we really kind of cut down their chances,” Quick said. “We kept forcing them to break it out, and that kills 10 to 15 seconds every time they do.”
NOTES: Henrik Zetterberg missed his second straight game because of a head injury. … Detroit assistant coach Tony Granato, who played six-plus seasons with the Kings and scored 37 goals in 1992-93 to help get them to the Stanley Cup Finals, was honored in a pregame ceremony as the club continued its “Legends Night” series. … Quick has made a career-high 15 consecutive starts. … Los Angeles was 1 for 17 on the power play in its previous seven games before Williams connected for the fourth time this season. … Kopitar has one goal in his last 14 games. … The Kings signed C Jordan Nolan to a three-year, $2.85 million extension.
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