Kings Reclaim Division Lead with 1-0 Shootout Victory

Hard to imagine where Kings might be without this man. HINT- Picture last place. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

A defensive and goaltending battle for the ages went down to the wire Thursday night at the Staples Center as the Los Angeles Kings earned a 1-0 shootout victory over the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues.

The only three “goals” of the evening, courtesy of Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and T.J. Oshie, came in the shootout. L.A.’s Jonathan Quick was rewarded with the win thanks to his thirty-five save effort—it was also the goaltender’s eighth shutout of the season and the twenty-second of his career. On the opposite side of the ice, Brian Elliot continued his stellar 2011-2012 campaign with thirty-seven saves and his seventh shutout on the year.

However, it was Carter’s final tally in the fourth shootout round that gave his team the victory and vaulted the Kings back to the top of the Pacific division race and third place in the conference. The Dallas Stars were defeated by the Vancouver Canucks and promptly dropped to the eighth seed with the loss. Though it is worth noting that while L.A. has one more point through seventy-four games played, Dallas carries a two game advantage in regulation plus overtime wins (or ROW).

Perhaps lost in all the playoff race hoopla is the fact that the Kings earned their season-high sixth consecutive win. Coming against a team of St. Louis’s caliber, that’s a very impressive fact just in itself.

It was the type of game one might expect between these two teams, notwithstanding L.A’s recent offensive surge. The team is no longer dead-last in most offensive categories with an average of 2.26 goals per game. But several of those scores didn’t come against St. Louis, the league’s leader is goals allowed per game with an astounding 1.85 average. That’s nearly .25 fewer goals allowed than the second best team (which, ironically enough, just so happens to be Los Angeles).

A total of fifteen shots were recorded in the first period, thirteen of those being from the visiting squad in blue. To Quick’s credit and just as he has done all season long, he stood on his head when he had to and kept his team in the game for maybe far longer than they should have been.

Things appeared bleak for the Kings when Justin Williams was charged with a tripping penalty three minutes into the overtime frame. The defense stepped up once again however, and only allowed three St. Louis shots in the overtime period.