Goalkeeper Jonathan Quick set a new Kings standard with a shutout streak… (Harry How / Getty Images )
The Kings' history has been dotted with occasional standout seasons and a few memorable games, but rarely have they sustained their excellence for any significant stretch.
It's early in the season but goaltender Jonathan Quick is showing signs he's ready to lift himself and his teammates to heights the Kings have rarely reached in the franchise's history.
Quick broke Rogie Vachon's club-record shutout streak Saturday by stopping all 28 shots against him in a 1-0 victory over the division rival Dallas Stars at Staples Center. Quick became the first Kings goalie to record a shutout in three consecutive games as his shutout streak reached 188 minutes 10 seconds, eclipsing the record of 184:55 set by Vachon during the 1975-76 season.
Quick passed the iconic Vachon during the third period, not long after Jack Johnson scored at 15:02 off a slap shot following a faceoff win by Mike Richards in Dallas' zone.
"I know what kind of class act he is. You hear how great he was," Quick said of Vachon.
"It does mean a lot to have that record now, but at the same time we're in the middle of the season here and you quickly forget about it and you move on and focus on the next game."
Whoa, not so … quick.
In earning the 17th shutout of his career the 23-year-old goalie got some help from a well-placed crossbar on a shot by Michael Ryder early in the third period. Otherwise, Quick was flawless.
"You've got to catch bounces to get one shutout, never mind three in a row," he said after the Kings extended their winning streak to four and improved to 5-1-1, matching their best seven-game record in club history.
"I was very fortunate there and I caught a few bounces over the last couple games."
If he was lucky, he also was very good.
"Right now he's dialed in," Coach Terry Murray said.
And the numbers he's dialing are impressive. He has stopped 175 of 180 shots at him in six games for a .972 save percentage.
Still, Quick isn't impressed with that, or with his record streak.
"It is a great thing, but I've never been a guy to look at numbers, shutouts, save percentage, that kind of stuff," he said. "Obviously, it's good to have good numbers but I feel like goalies, you judge them if you win or lose. That's what's really most important to me. That's what's most important to the team.
"It feels great to get the win. To get it in that fashion is a little icing on top."
Andrew Raycroft, Dallas' backup goalie, nearly matched Quick's excellence. He was beaten only by a long shot from the right point by Johnson, a puck that flipped end over end on the way to the net. Richards won the faceoff and got the puck back to Rob Scuderi, who found Johnson with a cross-ice feed. The goal was Johnson's third game-winner this season.
But Johnson was happier to talk about Quick's achievement rather than his own.
"He gives us a chance to win every night," said Johnson, who continues to be a workhorse in the absence of Drew Doughty and played a game-high 23:27.
"I don't think he gets enough credit as he should just because we're out here on the West Coast and when we play everyone else is sleeping. He's definitely one of the best goalies in the league."
Quick is certainly playing like an elite goaltender, though he hedged when asked if he's playing the best he has in his career.
"It's hard to say," he said. "I do feel good. I feel like I'm seeing pucks well and I feel like I'm getting a lot of help to see those pucks well. That's really it.
"Everything's going in the right direction right now. We've just got to focus on the next game."
That next game is Tuesday, against New Jersey. Doughty (injured right shoulder) isn't likely to return for that game, but the Kings' depth on defense has helped carry them during his absence.
Goaltending, defense and center are the three areas in which depth is critical, and the Kings appear to have accumulated quality depth with Quick, with Johnson stepping up and Slava Voynov stepping in on defense, and with Richards providing a solid second center punch behind Anze Kopitar.
It's worth remembering that the Kings were 12-3 to start last season before they began riding a roller coaster of inconsistency. But it's difficult not to get giddy when Quick rewrites the goaltending history of a team that has had few great moments in that area.