LOS ANGELES — On any other night, Kings defenseman Jack Johnson likely would have been the player lit up by cameras and surrounded by tape recorders.
But a few stalls to his right was goalie Jonathan Quick, basking in the glow of his franchise-record third consecutive shutout in a 1-0 victory Saturday night against the Dallas Stars at Staples Center.
The milestone might not have been possible if not for Johnson’s blast from just inside the Dallas blue line following a face-off win by teammate Mike Richards with about 15 minutes remaining in the third period. The puck made its way out of the circle to Johnson’s defensive partner, Rob Scuderi, who slid it to Johnson on his right.
With multiple bodies between Johnson and Dallas back-up goalie Andrew Raycroft, the puck knuckled through and hit the net just inside the far post for his third game-winner of the season. Johnson, in his sixth year in the NHL, had never had a game winner before this season.
“We’re all really happy to win it for [Quick],” Johnson said. “He has been playing great for us all year, and he’s been playing great ever since he got here, so he deserves this as much as anyone. Hopefully, he doesn’t stop at three.”
For most of the night, Dallas had made it tough on the Kings to get shots through. They blocked 20 shots through two periods and finished with 26.
“They were blocking a ton of shots,” Johnson said. “I was just trying to get it by the first guy, make it high and hard enough so that if they were going to block it, hopefully, it would hurt one of them. Make them think twice about it.”
Kings coach Terry Murray said he couldn’t remember the last time the Kings had scored off a face off. He said the play was worked to perfection, however.
“It’s one of those plays, we talk about it often, where you just want to shoot the puck and get it to the net,” he said. “You’ve got their five players and you’ve got our three forwards down there in that mix off the face-off win, and that’s why it’s critical to shoot the puck off a clean face off.”
Johnson’s other two game-winners this season came during 4-on-3 power plays in overtime.
“He’s on fire,” said Kings center Anze Kopitar. “Every time the game’s on the line he steps up. Tonight, he fired it from the blue line and the puck had eyes and went in.”
And the rest was history.