Introducing the long, slow journey to the Pacific Division title.
The Kings are getting there the most demanding way imaginable, as they solidified their hold on the division lead by defeating Edmonton, 2-0, on Monday night at Staples Center.
The winning goal came from defenseman Slava Voynov 34 seconds into the third period.
Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who faced 19 shots, secured his 10th shutout of the season and 24th of his career. Quick has recorded two shutouts in the span of six days and has allowed one goal in his last three starts.
Naturally, he credited the defense in helping extending his club record for shutouts in a season.
"They did a great job. I think maybe once or twice they were able to set up and we kind of shut down everything they wanted to get going," Quick said. "Everything has its own challenges. Every save brings its own challenges."
The Kings, in the division lead and third spot in the Western Conference, have 93 points with two games remaining in the regular season. That puts them two points in front of the seventh-place Coyotes, and the Sharks are three behind with 90 points.
Still, nothing is assured. Not a playoff spot, the division title or home-ice advantage in the playoffs. It will come down to a home-and-home series against the Sharks.
But this was a significant step. They stayed patient in the face of weariness — having played four games in six nights — and a strong effort by Oilers goalie Devan Dubnyk, who made 35 saves, frustrating the Kings time and again.
Voynov broke through first with his one-timer from the right circle, with a setup by Anze Kopitar, who took the puck behind the net and hit him with the alert pass.
That took a lot of pressure off the Kings. Dwight King made it 2-0, finishing off a two-on-one with Mike Richards with 2:32 left. In between the goals was a key stretch as the Kings killed off a four-minute penalty to Trevor Lewis for high-sticking Edmonton's Colten Teubert.
"We felt we were playing some pretty good hockey in the first and second, just not getting anything on the scoreboard," said defenseman Matt Greene. "Slava comes in, like he has a bunch this year, and got us on and cracked it open.
"Coming in after each period, we were happy the way we were playing. And we knew it was going to come and didn't have to change too much."
The victory was the Kings' second in the last three games since they lost forward Jeff Carter to an ankle injury. Tests reported earlier in the day revealed he had no fractures or ligament damage.
Carter's MRI exam showed a deep bone bruise, according to Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi.
"This is a painful thing," Lombardi said Monday afternoon. "But we're not dealing with a structural problem or ligament damage. Those are the two things you worry about the most."
Carter hurt his ankle Wednesday in the third period against the Flames and he said adrenaline got him through the final minutes in Calgary.
Carter was on crutches and in a walking boot after suffering the injury, but Sutter indicated that there was some improvement.
"It really doesn't have any impact other than we miss him in the lineup," Sutter said Monday after the morning skate. "What the [test] results are really doesn't matter, right? It's getting better.
"We're not going to amputate, I don't think, or anything like that," the unpredictable Sutter added.