If there's been one glaring issue recently for the Los Angeles Kings, it's been the surprisingly unspectacular play of reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner Jonathan Quick and backup Jonathan Bernier.
Coach Darryl Sutter is hoping whichever goaltender he chooses to face the Calgary Flames at home Saturday night and again Monday to close out a five-game homestand will have a better performance than their last.
Los Angeles (12-8-2) has allowed at least four goals three times while splitting its last four contests, including a 5-2 loss to Dallas on Thursday that ended a six-game winning streak at Staples Center.
Quick, who backstopped the Kings to their first Stanley Cup in June, is just 7-7-2 with a 2.59 goals-against average after posting a career-best 1.95 GAA in the 2011-12 regular season.
He's allowed four goals in each of his last two starts, and between those outings he was forced to relieve Bernier in Tuesday's 6-4 win over St. Louis. Bernier gave up three goals on eight shots before Quick allowed a goal on six.
Sutter hasn't said who he plans to start in the first of two consecutive home games versus the Flames, but he knows the goaltending overall needs to improve.
"Giving up four goals a game, you can't win. We need better goaltending, better defense. Simple," Sutter said. "We need to raise the save percentage. It's one stat that doesn't lie, right? ... If you're giving up four goals a game, you can't win."
Quick doesn't believe the homestand has made the Kings too relaxed, but he's aware his play and that of his teammates needs to improve despite the fact they've won nine of their last 12.
"(You've) got to win a hockey game," Quick said.
Los Angeles has mostly done that in recent meetings with the Flames. It improved to 6-1-1 in the last eight matchups as Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter - second in the NHL with 16 goals - and Trevor Lewis scored in a 3-1 win at Calgary on Feb. 20.
Sutter doesn't think the scheduling quirk will be beneficial for either team as they play twice in the same building in three nights.
"I don't know how it would. I think we have to do that several times," Sutter said. "It's no different than a playoff series."
If Calgary (9-9-4) hopes to participate in the postseason, it'll need better efforts than Friday's 4-0 loss at Anaheim. It had gone 4-1-1 over its previous six and scored four goals in each of its previous three.
Captain Jarome Iginla had four goals and an assist during a three-game point streak that came to an end.
"The first half of the game we were down by one, but we had some great scoring chances and our guys were ready to play,' said Iginla, who has six goals over his last six games after tallying just one in his first 16. "Unfortunately they got one right out of the gate, but I thought we carried most of the play for the first half of the game.'
Miikka Kiprusoff gave up four goals after making 32 saves to beat San Jose 4-1 on Wednesday in his first game in over a month due to a sprained MCL.
It's unclear, though, if he'll get the call in the second of a back-to-back. He gave up five goals on 24 shots in his first start in that situation, a 5-4 loss to Anaheim on Jan. 21.
The Associated Press News Service
The Associated Press
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