Kings spoil Jonathan Quick’s return with victory over Rangers – Orange County Register

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LOS ANGELES — Perhaps it took Jonathan Quick being back in the building for the Kings to win again.

Returning to an arena that someday will feature Quick’s No. 32 hanging from the rafters, the three-time Stanley Cup champion, owner of every single-season goaltending record in Kings history, started in his old haunt for the first time as a visitor, netminding the New York Rangers on Saturday.

Kings fans stood for Quick. They bowed. They honored him when a video commemorating his accomplishments in L.A. played midway through the first period.

For his part, Quick took it all in and acknowledged their love in the moment.

Afterwards, the Kings all-time leader in games (743), wins (370) and shutouts (57) was stoic as ever.

Just another video. Just another game. Just another chance to win on the road, he said.

By the end, the Kings faithful, surrounded by large pockets of Rangers supporters, were the ones celebrating after Quick and his Metropolitan Division-leading teammates fell 2-1 at Arena to old pals Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty — a trio that played an NHL record 688 games together.

Goals by Kevin Fiala and Quinton Byfield held up as Kings goaltender David Rittich made 22 saves, including several Quick-like denials late in a tightly-played contest.

“I thought everybody found a way to consistently make a contribution in the game,” said Kings head coach Todd McLellan.

Addressing Quick’s presence, McLellan said the ceremony was important and emotional for his players: “We’re happy for Quickie and his family. He deserved an extra five minutes. It’s too bad we couldn’t stop the clock.”

Quick kept the Kings at bay until the dying moments of the first period when winger Trevor Moore controlled the puck behind the Rangers net, moved to the left circle, spun and centered it.

Anticipating danger at the far post, Quick pushed himself in that direction. But the goalie had not noticed Fiala, who, after sneakily taking the puck off defenseman Braden Schneider’s stick, cut back against the grain.

The criss-cross set up Fiala’s 11th goal of the season as Quick splayed out on the ice, giving the Kings the lead on Moore’s 12th assist.

Putting in a better showing over the next 20 minutes, the Rangers briefly tied the game at 14:39 when Chris Kreider redirected a linedrive pass for his 21st goal.

Quick flashed his brilliance denying a one-timer from Vladislav Gavrikov a couple minutes later, but the Kings eager response to the Kreider equalizer paid off when Byfield scored unassisted at 18:13.

Seeking a spark to shake their recent string of poor results, Kings head coach Todd McLellan shuffled line combinations, replacing Byfield with Pierre-Luc Dubois, who joined the first line with Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe.

Byfield, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 NHL draft, was repositioned from the wing to center on the third line alongside Jaret Anderson-Dolan and Alex Laferriere. The Kings youngsters — Byfield is 21, Laferriere 22 and Anderson-Dolan 24 — produced, pressured and pushed the game forward.

“I had a lot of fun out there going back to my original position,” Byfield said. “Maybe it took a little bit to get used to again but it was awesome.

“Playing with those two guys, I’m lucky to play with them and the chemistry is just starting there.”

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