Kings, Quick shut out Sabres

Dennis Bernstein, The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

LOS ANGELES -- During the four off days after a Saturday night loss to the Nashville Predators, the Los Angeles Kings had a number of things to correct.
While their performance against the overmatched Buffalo Sabres wasn't overwhelming Thursday, the Kings showed that the time away did wonders for their sub-par special teams.
Center Mike Richards had a goal and an assist, and goaltender Jonathan Quick recorded his first shutout of the season with a 19-save performance as the Kings defeated the Sabres 2-0 at Staples Center.
Richards turned in one of his stronger performance of the season, as his six shots on goal were a season high.
Due to injuries to right winger Jeff Carter and center Jarret Stoll, Richards was paired with winger Dwight King and rookie center Tyler Toffoli. The unlikely trio didn't hit the scoreboard but was dangerous all night, with Toffoli getting two shots on goal. The rookie is getting top-six forward minutes in Carter's absence and is hoping to stick with the big club when the high-scoring winger returns.
The victory was the fourth in the last six games for the Kings (10-6-0). Buffalo (3-14-1) failed in its bid for consecutive wins, something it has yet to accomplish this season.
"With the Olympic year, you miss some days here and there with practice and being able to work on the details, so we had a good three practices where we were able to get some work done," said Quick who appeared in his 300th game in a Los Angeles uniform.
Quick's play was subpar in the early season, with his save percentage entering the game was below .900. A result is that he may not be the starter for the United States in the 2014 Winter Olympics. His return to form is essential for his Olympic hopes and for the Kings to keep pace in the highly competitive Western Conference.
Los Angeles won the battle of special teams, scoring two power-play goals while its 21st-ranked penalty-killing unit held Buffalo scoreless on four power plays.
The Kings opened the scoring at 19:24 of the first period when Richards tipped in defenseman Jake Muzzin's shot from the point. Richards' goal was his fourth of the season, and it came with Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers in the box for interference.
Los Angeles doubled its lead at 12:18 of the second period. With the Kings holding four-on-three advantage, center Anze Kopitar batted home a cross-ice feed from defenseman Drew Doughty. Richards recorded his second point of the game with the secondary assist.
Buffalo had little offensive flow through the first two periods, managing only 12 shots against Quick despite having three power-play opportunities.
"I think that five-on-five we were solid. I believe we out-chanced them when we were five-on-five," Buffalo center Steve Ott said. "They got two good power-play goals and were able to hang onto it."
The Sabres' best chance to score came late in the second period, but Quick stopped forward Corey Tropp from in close with less than six minutes remaining.
Buffalo goalie Jhonas Enroth made 26 saves.
"I didn't think we played that bad of the game," Enroth said. "There wasn't much I could have done differently on either goal."
Myers' season long struggles continued, as he drew three minor penalties as well as a five-minute major for a fight with Los Angeles right winger Matt Frattin.
The Kings limited the Sabres to seven shots on goal in a scoreless final period for a win that helped them keep pace with the Vancouver Canucks and the Dallas Stars, both winners Thursday evening.
NOTES: Los Angeles D Drew Doughty has seven points in his past eight games. ... Buffalo finishes up its three game California road trip with a game against the Ducks in Anaheim on Friday evening. ... Buffalo and Los Angeles have played 114 regular-season games since 1970 without either team being shut out at home. ... Kings G Jonathan Quick, a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2012, entered the game with a .896 save percentage that ranked him 53rd among NHL goaltenders. ... The injury list is growing for Los Angeles. In addition C Jarret Stoll and RW Jeff Carter, D Matt Greene missed his first game of the season with an undisclosed injury. ... C Linden Vey, recalled this past Saturday from the Kings' AHL Manchester affiliate, made his NHL debut. Veteran C Colin Fraser was a healthy scratch.

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