Carter, Quick help Kings beat Flames to reclaim Pacific lead
LOS ANGELES (AP) Although the Los Angeles Kings tied two franchise single-season records in their latest victory, their focus is securing one title and preparing a run at another.
''We want to finish first. We want home ice,'' Jeff Carter said. ''We're fortunate enough to be in the position we are and got five games to get where we need to be.''
Carter scored twice, Jonathan Quick made 21 saves in his fifth shutout of the season and the Kings reclaimed the Pacific Division lead with a 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.
The Kings moved one point ahead of the idle Anaheim Ducks with their 46th win this season, tying the franchise record most recently set in their Stanley Cup-winning 2013-14 campaign.
Quick earned his 42nd career shutout, extending his own NHL record for American-born goalies. He also earned his 39th win of the season to match the franchise single-season record, which he set in 2009-10.
More importantly, the Kings reclaimed some momentum after a recent skid by smothering Calgary's speedy forwards and getting contributions from their top stars.
Anze Kopitar had two assists, and Andy Andreoff also scored for the Kings.
''We haven't had that 60-minute effort that we've been looking for as of late,'' Milan Lucic said. ''Today was a step in the right direction, especially defensively.''
The Kings pounced after Josh Jooris clipped Quick for goaltender interference 35 seconds into the second period. Drew Doughty fired a low slap shot from inside the blue line and Carter tipped it, sending the puck rising over Joni Ortio's right shoulder to take the lead 11 seconds into the power play.
Doughty picked up his 316th career point, passing Steve Duchesne to move into second place in career scoring among Kings defensemen.
Ortio stopped 26 shots for the Flames, who have allowed 134 goals on the road, tied with Ottawa for worst in the league.
Carter scored his 22nd goal of the season later in the second, benefiting from the alertness of Brayden McNabb and Lucic. Catching the Flames in a change, McNabb threaded a pass through the neutral zone to Lucic, who spun through two defenders and left a pass for Carter at the foot of the crease for an easy score.
''The D on him made a good play of cutting him off,'' Carter said. ''Good play by him, easy one by me.''
Mikael Backlund appeared to have given the Flames some life when he scored on a wrist shot late in the second, but the goal was immediately waved off for goalie interference by Lance Bouma. Flames coach Bob Hartley unsuccessfully challenged the call.
''I think Quick put himself way out of the net, and that's not our fault,'' Backlund said.
The Flames endured another deflating sequence when Sam Bennett hit the inside of the post in the third, only for the Kings to break down the ice and score. Carter threw the puck in front and it went in off Andreoff and Joe Colborne.
After a surprising run into the second round of the playoffs last season, Calgary went 0-8 against the Kings and Ducks. Matching up against the perennial division powers will be the key to a return to the postseason, Backlund said.
''It's been a tough year for us in our own division. I don't know why,'' Backlund said. ''They're hard teams to play against, very physical and fast. We've got to find a way to play the same way.''
With five games to go, the Kings are in position to claim the franchise's second-ever division title. However, a recent 1-4-0 stretch by Los Angeles and the continued post-Christmas surge of the Ducks has put that banner in doubt.
But there is one way to ensure a division title, Carter said, with an eye on lifting a third Stanley Cup in five seasons.
''If we win our games, that's it,'' Carter said. ''We're looking to get on a roll.''
NOTES: The Kings host the fifth and final Freeway Faceoff this season between the Southern California rivals next Thursday. ... Quick blanked the Flames for the third time in his career. ... Calgary has only collected 27 points on the road this season, the lowest total in the league.