From Detroit — Jonathan Quick provided 51 examples Monday of his eagerness to redeem himself for his puck-handling gaffes in his previous start.
Quick stopped a career-high 51 shots, 26 in the second period of a still-tight game, to lead the Kings to a 5-0 rout of the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Despite being down to four defensemen — Matt Greene sustained an upper-body injury in the first period but later said he was fine and Rob Scuderi was cut in the mouth early in the third — the Kings did all they humanly could to secure Quick's second shutout this season and 10th of his career.
Their encouragement drowned out echoes of the mock cheers he heard at Staples Center on Saturday after his two mistakes led to Minnesota goals in a 3-2 loss for the Kings.
"We were doing everything we could there at the end of the third, just playing for him pretty much," said defenseman Jack Johnson, who scored the final goal with the help of Drew Doughty's third assist and Dustin Brown's second helper.
Doughty said he and his teammates joked afterward that no one wanted to be guilty of ruining the shutout for Quick.
"Quickie was unbelievable tonight," said Doughty, who was credited with the Kings' fourth goal but knew it had deflected off Anze Kopitar's leg for the center's second goal of the game.
"I don't think I've ever been part of a game where our goalie stood on his head like that. If we didn't have him back there, I don't think we would have won tonight."
Quick, who reduced his goals-against average to 1.83 and increased his save percentage to .933, said he had a tough time forgetting his miscues against Minnesota.
"The way that game ended up, obviously, it was disappointing so I was looking forward to getting back out and kind of putting that game in the past," he said.
He did that emphatically.
The Kings had scored at 13:27 of the first period Monday when Wayne Simmonds converted the rebound of a Greene shot, and they were clinging to that lead when Alec Martinez took penalties at 7:30 and 9:41 of the second period. The Red Wings occupied Quick with seven shots on the first power play and two on the second.
"You get a good rhythm going. I'm not saying it's easy but, I do think at times it's easier than playing those games where you only see 17 shots and you get a Grade A scoring chance once every 10 minutes," Quick said. "Those are tough games to play in as well. At the end of the day it's two points and it feels good to get it."
He got help from the penalty killers — notably Willie Mitchell, who played 27 minutes and 10 seconds in his first game since he fractured his wrist Nov. 6. But this had Quick's stamp all over it. "Quickie stole us probably 10 games this year, and without him back there and playing as well as he can this team wouldn't be the team we are," Doughty said.
The Kings put the game out of reach in the third period. Kopitar scored 23 seconds in, on the rebound of a shot by Brown, and deflected Doughty's long shot at 2:59. Johnson's slap shot eluded Jimmy Howard at 6:03 during the four-minute power play that resulted from Justin Abdelkader's high-sticking against Scuderi.
The only suspense for the Kings (17-10-1) was if Quick would get the shutout. His teammates wouldn't let him leave without it, and he appreciated that.
"December, January and February, these are going to be the tough months. The games are tougher to win," he said. "Everyone's starting to ramp up their games and play better, and it will be interesting coming forward if we continue this momentum and finish up this road trip strong."
Johnson called the West-leading Red Wings the best team in the NHL. If that's true, what does that make the Kings after toppling them twice?
"We'll see," he said. "We're still trying to catch them in the standings. We're a good team, too, and we know that. It's just that they've been the measuring stick for a long time."
By any measure, Quick and the Kings won a big one Monday.