Kings right wing Justin Williams and Sharks center Logan Couture battle… (Chris Carlson / Associated…)
Terry Murray's shakeup of his top three lines didn't produce a flood of goals, but the Kings scored often enough Monday — and got strong enough goaltending from Jonathan Quick — to defeat the San Jose Sharks and pass them in the Pacific Division standings.
Fourth-line winger Ethan Moreau scored in the first period, Mike Richards scored his team-leading 11th goal in the second period and Quick, playing his 200th game, made 33 saves to lead the Kings to a 2-0 victory at Staples Center. The Kings, 12-8-4 with 28 points, vaulted ahead of the Sharks, who are 13-7-1 with 27 points.
The shutout was Quick's fourth this season and first since Oct. 22, which was the last in his early-season string of three straight shutouts. He was the backbone for another strong penalty-killing effort Monday, as the Kings killed five penalties. They've neutralized their last 18 disadvantages.
Quick said he wasn't aware of the 200-game milestone until teammate Matt Greene alerted him before the game. "They go quickly, I'll tell you," Quick said. "Tonight was a big win. Everybody battled hard. A hard-fought game. They battled, too, on their side. It was a huge two points."
The Sharks were shut out for the third time this season. They lost back-to-back games for the first time since Oct. 15-17.
The Kings have scored only nine goals in their last five games but they made two goals stand up Monday. "If we want to be a good team we have to win games like this against quality opponents," Moreau said after scoring his first goal since Oct. 9, 2010.
"I thought we played really solid defensively and most of their chances were on the power play."
Moreau made a fine play on his goal. He dumped the puck into the zone along the right-wing boards and pursued it deep into the zone. Sharks defenseman Justin Braun played the puck but lost it when he was checked hard by Kings center Colin Fraser. That left the puck free for Moreau, who wristed it home at 8 minutes 37 seconds.
The Kings extended their lead to 2-0 at 4:16 of the second period, on a play made possible by the mobility, smarts and creativity of a defenseman — and not Drew Doughty.
With the teams skating four-on-four, Willie Mitchell took a pass from Simon Gagne and carried the puck into the Sharks' zone on the left side. Mitchell cut, pivoted and passed the puck back to Gagne, who went behind the net while Mitchell got back out to the blue line. Gagne made a quick pass out to Richards, who beat Antti Niemi for his seventh goal in the last seven games.
The Kings took four penalties in the second period, including two straight late in the period, but Quick was formidable. He also got help from the post on a shot by Dan Boyle during a San Jose power play.
"He's up for a challenge," Moreau said of Quick. "They have some world-class players that are going to get their opportunities and he was better than them tonight."
The Kings' depth took a hit with the news that winger Scott Parse will soon see a hip specialist in Nashville and might face surgery. If he needs a surgical procedure he would be out about four months.
The depth of their resolve was what mattered most Monday, and they came through in fine shape even though they lost a potential third goal when video review officials in Toronto overturned the call on the ice and determined Slava Voynov had kicked the puck into the net with a distinct kicking motion.
"I thought we created a lot, especially early in the game before the penalties took over the flow of the game," Moreau said. "I thought we did a real good job of keeping everyone involved and everybody was contributing and getting a lot of shots."