LOS ANGELES – Credit Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick with a shutout Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres. Be sure to credit Jarome Iginla with a save in their 2-0 win, though. As in, he saved the offensively-challenged Kings from themselves with a goal just 36 seconds into the third period.
General Manager Dean Lombardi acquired the 39-year-old Iginla from the Colorado Avalanche at the NHL trade deadline March 1 for just such a situation. Iginla delivered his third goal since the deal, and this was his most important to date.
“Coming to a new team you definitely want to find ways to help out,” Iginla said after scoring his 622nd career goal in the Kings’ latest must-win game. “I’ve got a great shot (to win) here. … I’m going to keep working at it. There’s room for improvement, but it feels good.”
The Kings started with their heads and hearts in the right place, but they had zero to show for it after two scoreless periods. They skated purposefully, fired shots from all sort of angles and generally controlled the play for extended stretches, but something was missing.
A lack of scoring has hampered the Kings from the start of the season, and in point of fact has been a problem for several years now. Their depth has been particularly worrisome in 2016-17, what with only five players in Thursday’s lineup with 10 goals or more, led by Jeff Carter with 31.
“We’re not a team that’s going to score a lot of goals, that’s obvious,” Kings coach Darryl Sutter said, referring to the team’s puny average of only 2.4 goals per game going into Thursday. “That’s not going to change with a dozen games left.”
One was all the Kings needed to defeat Buffalo, although 20-year-old rookie Adrian Kempe provided insurance with his second NHL goal. The Kings remained four points behind the St. Louis Blues in the wild-card race. The Blues defeated the Sharks, 4-1, in San Jose.