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Friday, February 23, 2024

Kings edge Rangers 2-1, spoil Quick’s return to Los Angeles


The Los Angeles Kings spoiled Jonathan Quick’s return by defeating the New York Rangers 2-1 at Crypto.com Arena on Saturday.

Quick, who made 24 saves, played his first 16 seasons with the Kings, including winning the Stanley Cup twice (2012, 2014), before being traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 1.

“It’s a hockey game, road game, trying to get two points,” Quick said. “Came up a little short.”

Quick ranks first in Kings history in wins (370), shutouts (57), save percentage (.911), playoff wins (49), playoff shutouts (10), playoff save percentage (.921) and playoff goals-against average (2.31). He was honored with a video tribute during the first period and received a sustained ovation from the crowd.

Although he looked to be emotional during the tribute, Quick downplayed it afterwards.

“No, they play videos all the time,” he said. “Just another video.”

Kevin Fiala and Quinton Byfield scored for the Kings (22-13-8), who won for the second time in their past 12 games (2-6-4). David Rittich made 22 saves.

“I love ‘Quicky,’” Byfield said. “He played really well against us at Madison Square Garden (in a 4-1 win on Dec. 10), so we owed him one and had to take it to him. He played amazing.”

Chris Kreider scored for the Rangers (28-15-2), who have lost two in a row and are 0-4-1 in their past five road games.

“It’s right there,” New York captain Jacob Trouba said. “It’s not a matter of not getting the opportunities or getting way outplayed or getting outmatched on the ice. It’s a pretty close game. We’re just not capitalizing, and it’s frustrating, but the only way to get through it is to continue to work.”

Fiala gave the Kings a 1-0 lead at 19:25 of the first period, taking a spinning pass from Trevor Moore and skating around a prone Quick before shooting into an open net.

Los Angeles had a 12-2 advantage in shots in the first.

“Start was no good, we were outworked,” Rangers coach Peter Laviolette said. “They were quicker, they wanted the puck more than we did. I thought the second and third period we turned it around, but in a tight game like that, you give up that goal in the first and can’t get back in.”

Kreider tied it 1-1 at 14:39 of the second period, tapping in a backdoor pass from Adam Fox.

“We’re not finding the net right now,” Kreider said. “As a group, we’re very capable of finding the back of the net, and the puck hasn’t gone in the last few games, so we need to work and find ways to get to the goalie and find ways to go to the net.”

Byfield put Los Angeles back ahead 2-1 at 18:13 of the second. He scored from the slot after K’Andre Miller tried to clear Jaret Anderson-Dolan’s backhand shot off the goal line.

Byfield centered the third line after he and Pierre-Luc Dubois swapped spots in a 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday, with Dubois moving to the wing on the first line with Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe.

“I thought he was tremendous,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said of Byfield. “He controlled and took charge of his line. His assignments down low in the defensive zone were excellent. It didn’t hamper him from creating offensively.”

Rittich preserved the lead during a penalty kill late in the third period when he made a kick save on Alexis Lafrenière’s shot from close range with 1:25 remaining.

“It starts with the goaltender,” McLellan said. “I thought he made some really good saves when he had to, especially the penalty kill at the end.”

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