Still struggling to find the back of the net, the Los Angeles Kings relied on their usual air-tight defense to secure a much needed victory against a division rival.
Winger Dustin Brown scored the lone goal, and goaltender Jonathan Quick made 28 saves as the Los Angeles Kings defeated the Vancouver Canucks 1-0 Monday at Staples Center.
Los Angeles (28-14-5) finished its five-game homestand with a 3-1-1 record, but it won for only the third time in 10 games. Quick's shutout was his second of the season and his second win in nine days against the Canucks.
The Kings' fourth straight win in the season series is a primary reason why Los Angeles remains ahead of Vancouver (24-14-9) in the Pacific Division.
Kings coach Darryl Sutter believed the stakes were high for a midseason game. Vancouver was looking to exact some payback after the previous game in which Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo was injured in a goalmouth scramble with Brown.
"Both are fighting for the same spot, between third in the division and a wild-card spot," Sutter said. "Their mindset from the start was to come out and play the way they did."
Even from his view from between the pipes, Quick witnessed the physical intensity between the teams. The skirmishes extended to his net, as he drew a goaltender-interference penalty on Vancouver winger Dale Weise in the third period.
"It's usually like this when we play them," Quick said. "They are a tough team, and a rivalry has developed over the past few years."
Vancouver, who got 19 saves from goaltender Eddie Lack, were shut out for the first time this season. They have only one win in 10 games against the trio of California squads, Los Angeles, the Anaheim Ducks and the San Jose Sharks.
Canucks coach John Tortorella made sure that his team sent a message from the opening faceoff. Vancouver was the aggressor throughout.
"I thought we did a really good job as far as deciding that that ice is ours also," Tortorella said. "It's something that's been (missing) in our game a little bit here. That was a big part of our game tonight."
Though the Canucks have yet to find a way to beat the Kings this season, Vancouver center Henrik Sedin thought his team's effort deserved a better fate Monday.
"We played a great game," Sedin said. "If you look at the way we were battling, hitting and getting to the forecheck, everything we do to win games, we did tonight."
Brown broke the scoreless tie 24 seconds into the third period with his 10th goal of the season. He finished off a three-on-one break by batting home a rebound of a shot by center Anze Kopitar.
The Kings thought they doubled the lead on a power-play tip-in by center Mike Richards with less than 10 minutes left in regulation. After a video review, the goal was disallowed because the puck was struck with a stick that was higher than the crossbar of the Vancouver net.
Los Angeles received a rare seven-minute power play less than three minutes into the game when Canucks winger Tom Sestito was tossed out of the game for instigating a fight with Los Angeles winger Jordan Nolan.
Nolan was not penalized in the skirmish, but the Canucks' league-leading power play held the Kings' 24th-ranked power play scoreless, allowing few scoring chances.
Los Angeles got a subsequent five-on-three spell when Sedin went off for hooking, but the best chance of the advantage was a short-handed attempt by Vancouver center Mike Santorelli. Despite having 11 minutes of power-play time in the opening frame, the Kings were outshot 8-7.
The game continued to be a penalty-filled affair throughout the second period with neither team mounting any offense. Weise slew-footed Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty, and the incident went unpenalized halfway through the period, though it raised the tension between the teams.
NOTES: Vancouver scratched G Roberto Luongo (ankle) and LW David Booth. ... Canucks D Alexander Edler was activated from injured reserve and returned to the lineup after a 16-game absence. Edler was sidelined due to a knee injury. ... The Canucks' league-leading penalty kill surrendered only three goals over the past 19 games . ... Los Angeles did not dress RW Matt Frattin, C Colin Fraser and D Alec Martinez. ... The Kings face the toughest part of their schedule starting with Thursday's road game against the St. Louis Blues. Los Angeles will play seven of the next eight games on the road, with the only home game during the stretch being the Stadium Series tilt against the Anaheim Ducks at Dodger Stadium. ... Kings C Mike Richards is in the midst of one of the worst goal-scoring slumps of his career. Though he is the team's second-leading scorer, he was dropped to the third line, and he failed to register a goal in his 22nd consecutive game.