FINAL – Kings 3, Islanders 2 – Quick, Danault, Kupari, McLellan

The LA Kings improved to 1-1-1 on their current road trip with a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders on Friday night at the UBS Arena.

Strikers Phillip Danault, Arthur Kaliyev and Gabe Vilardi scored the second period for the Kings, while goalkeeper Jonathan Quick made 16 saves between the pipes to earn his third win in as many appearances.

After a first period in which neither team got on the board, the Kings struck three times in the second period to open a 3-0 lead.

First, Danault got up close on the board to open the scoring. After a one-timer from Viktor Arvidsson from the left boards, the puck was sent airborne by Danault, with an Islanders defender knocking the puck out of the air for his 15th goal of the season. Less than two minutes later, Kaliyev extended the lead as he completed a 2-on-1 rush, with Rasmus Kupari facilitating, that scored in his home state of New York.

The Kings later made it 3-0 in the middle stanza when Vilardi scored his first goal since returning from injury. After a lengthy shift of his line in the strike zone, Vilardi found a pocket of space in the high slot, where he landed and wired a one-off timer past Ilya Sorokin, netminder of the Islanders, for his 18th goal of the season.

New York got on the board late in the period with a power play goal, through defenseman Noah Dobson, only to withdraw within two seconds. On their second-man advantage of the night, Dobson fired a one-timer from midfield, through traffic in front of and past Quick for his 12th goal of the season.

The Islanders scored another goal within five minutes of play in the third period, when an unfortunate bounce sent the puck in for the hosts. Defenseman Adam Pelech skated into the zone down the right wing and threw a backhand pass into the low slot, where he deflected off a Kings skate to cut the LA lead to 3-2.

Hear from Quick, Danault, Kupari and head coach Todd McLellan after tonight’s game.

Jonathan Quick

Phil Danault
About what he liked most about the way the team played tonight
We kept playing third, that’s a big part of it and we weren’t too scared. Some of the little details could definitely be better, but I thought it was better, we learned a little bit from the last game and we need to keep building on the kind of lead we’re getting first and second and we’ll win more games.

What the team focused on doing better with a head start on the trajectory
Yes, enough is enough, the time has come. We are all good players here, we can all defend and we have to learn how to keep playing with the lead and we played a little bit better tonight. We were more alert, didn’t lean back too much and we did the job, plus Quickie was great.

About adding Kevin Fiala to his line in the last two games
Yes, I love it. Kevin of course brings a lot of attack and a lot of space, he is a very good player. So other teams respect him and that opens up for us. Definitely a very good player.

Rasmus Kupari
About what he liked most from his line tonight
I think we had a lot of pace in our game today, we controlled hard and got pucks back that way. A couple of chances and of course we scored one goal which was huge.

Whether there was a message from the technical staff between yesterday and today
Not really, but we all knew that we conceded two goals, that is not possible and we have to do better. I think it was a really good game for us, a huge step up from the last game.

About his extensive penalty kicking role lately
That’s huge for me, of course I get a little more ice time and it tells me that the coaches trust me in that kind of situation. I just tried to do my best out there. We want to win that game and the PK is a big part of that.

Todd McLellan
When he felt that the team was taking over the game tonight
We started shooting the puck. We entered the zone in the first 10 minutes and played on the outside, trying to move pucks around the perimeter. They checked very well, they are very well coached, well positioned and excellent goalkeepers. You can see why they win matches. We only shot the puck after about 10 minutes, then we started to do that and the shot pulled people out of position. I felt we didn’t do that enough in the third period, we held the pucks and killed time, played on the outside but there are still chances for us to go to the goaltender and we didn’t do that but that was the momentum swinger early in the game.

About how the team finished the game tonight by playing the right way
Well, as you know, it’s been a bit of a problem for us lately and it was still getting exciting, but sometimes there’s not much you can do about a bad luck game. They scored their second off the foot, we can’t help that, but I was most impressed with what happened next. We stayed calm, we checked really well, we blocked shots, won faceoffs, got the clears when we needed to, got off the ice when we needed to, and got fresh guys out. We played as a team that can win in those situations.

About the improvements shown tonight by the fourth line
I was hard on the fourth line after the game yesterday, kudos to them today. They played a very strong game, both sides of the puck. I thought they were fast, they won confrontations. Kup penalty killed, Arthur and Kup hit the mark, JAD was involved, they were a big, big part of the win tonight. The only way we can survive is to play four lines, so I give them a lot of credit

About Jonathan Quick’s play tonight and lately
Well, he did and he now has three wins in a row, so that’s a big boost to his confidence. Our trust in him, we never believed in him, it’s just that Copper won a lot of games, but Quickie worked hard, he worked on his game and he’s really good at squeezing the last little bits and in tough situations. Tonight was one of them, so we’re happy for him.

Here’s to Gabe Vilardi coming back into action and scoring a goal tonight
Of the forwards who were injured, four, I think he’s been the quickest to return, but he’s been on the plank for the shortest time, if you will. With his injury he could still be in the game for a bit, if you will, but he’s done a really good job of getting himself going again. I think he is now comfortable with his line mates. He’s back to shooting the puck, he later called one off the post. If he does those things, it’s good night to him and a good sign to us.

Comments –
– Jonathan Quick stopped 16 of 18 shots for his 11th win of the season. The win was the 370th of his career, surpassing Tom Barrasso (369) for the sole possession of the third most wins among U.S.-born goaltenders in NHL history. John Vanbiesbrouck occupies second place with 374 victories.
– Quick also surpassed Pekka Rinne and Tom Barrasso for sole possession of 19th on the NHL’s all-time win list.
– Phillip Danault scored his 15th goal of the season in the win. In doing so, he became the second Kings skater this season to score on his birthday (Carl Grundstrom, December 1, 2021 vs. ARI) and the fifth in the past 10 years. Overall, he is the 24th different Kings skater to score a birthday goal.
– Arthur Kaliyev recorded his 11th goal of the season, while Gabriel Vilardi scored his 18th goal of the campaign.
– Jaret Anderson-Dolan recorded an assist for his 12th point of the season (7-5-12), setting a new career high.

The Kings have a team day off in New York tomorrow and will return to the ice against the New York Rangers at 2 p.m. Sunday night.

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