LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Kings got their sixth straight shootout victory - all on home ice. It was hard to tell by listening to their coach, who all these years later still isn't a fan of the tie-breaker.
"I hate the shootout, personally," Terry Murray said after watching Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown put the puck past Ryan Miller to help the Kings beat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 on Thursday night.
"I had nothing to do with it. I'm standing at the back of the bench and I've got my arms crossed and I'm totally out of it. That's the one thing I hate about it. But the fans love it. Not one fan left. Everyone was standing up, and we got two points."
Jonathan Quick stopped Jason Pominville and Tim Connolly in the shootout after giving up a goal by Drew Stafford on the Sabres' first attempt.
"That's what they wanted. They wanted these games to be big for everybody and to have these three-point games," Kings defenceman Sean O'Donnell said.
"Every team has got at least three great shooters, so it really all comes down to which goaltender plays better in the shootout. And Quickie's earned us a bunch of extra points, so we have him to thank for it."
Ryan Smyth scored the tying goal midway through the third for the Kings. O'Donnell and Brad Richardson also scored, and Quick made 26 saves on his 24th birthday.
"He's very eager to compete and he doesn't quit," Smyth said. "He works so hard in practice, and he gets rewarded in the game. He didn't face a lot of shots, but you have to give credit to the defencemen back there for standing solid and helping them out. He's played really well this year and he's earned a spot on the Olympic team."
Miller, who came in with a league-best 1.99 goals-against average and .936 save percentage, also stopped 26 shots. Miller and Quick will be teammates on the U.S. team next month in Vancouver. Last Saturday, Quick matched up against the other U.S. goalie - Tim Thomas - in a 4-3 shootout win over Boston.
"I think it was more us-versus-them than Quick versus Miller," Murray said. "I mean, Miller's the premiere guy and he's going to be the No. 1 Olympic goaltender for the U.S. team. He's earned the right to be that guy because of his years in Buffalo, so I'm sure it was a fun game for Quick - and it's a nice win for him on his birthday."
Craig Rivet scored 67 seconds into the third period to snap a 55-game drought, and Buffalo also got goals from Clarke MacArthur and Thomas Vanek. Connolly had two assists to extend his point streak to 14 games - the longest active streak in the NHL and four shy of the Sabres' franchise record set by Gilbert Perreault in the 1971-72 season.
"That was a battle on both ends," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I thought both teams put a lot of work into it. They play hard in their end, and they're a physical team. They've got some big bodies, so we knew we were in for a battle."
Rivet gave Buffalo a 3-2 lead 67 seconds into the third, but the Kings pulled even with 10:57 left in regulation when Jarret Stoll's shot caromed off rookie defenceman Tyler Myers' skate and then off Smyth's left skate while he was checked by Stafford.
Video replays were used to determine that Smyth's 14th goal was legal, but the Kings weren't as fortunate on a goal by Oscar Moller that was disallowed at 13:34 of the second during a power play with Buffalo leading 2-1. Moller illegally knocked the puck in with his right hand after Miller made a glove save.
The Kings, who were scored on all three times they were short-handed Tuesday night in a 5-1 loss to San Jose, fell behind 2-1 at 9:47 of the second on Vanek's team-high 14th goal while Brandon Segal was serving a boarding penalty.
But O'Donnell, who accidentally deflected a shot by Vanek into his own net earlier, tied it at 2-2 just 55 seconds before the second intermission with a slap shot from the left point while Kings forward Michal Handzus set up a screen. The goal came five seconds after Buffalo killed off Chris Butler's tripping penalty.
NOTES: The last time the Sabres played at Staples Center was Dec. 6, 2007, when Quick made his NHL debut and faced only 17 shots in an 8-2 victory. ... Smyth spent Wednesday in his hometown of Banff, Alberta, to participate in the Olympic torch relay.