LOS ANGELES (AP) — Keith Kinkaid has always performed well against the Los Angeles Kings.
Entering the crux of a six-game road trip crucial to the New Jersey’s playoff hopes, the Devils’ goalie tormented the Kings once again.
Kinkaid stopped 38 saves for his first shutout of the season, helping the Devils improve their playoff positioning with a 3-0 win over the Kings on Saturday.
“He’s a big reason why we’ve been able to be competitive and continue to be competitive down the stretch,” Devils coach John Hynes said. “We need him to continue to be very good. It’s nice to see Keith rise up. He’s playing extremely well right now, so let’s keep going with it.”
Michael Grabner, Nico Hischier and Miles Wood each scored for the Devils, who have won three straight and four of five. New Jersey remained in the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, one point behind Metropolitan Division rivals Philadelphia and Columbus, who both won later Saturday night.
Jonathan Quick made 25 saves for the Kings, who are tied with Anaheim for third in the Pacific.
Kinkaid is 3-0-0 in his career against the Kings with two shutouts. He has won four consecutive starts and is 9-2-0 in his last 11.
“I guess I like playing against them,” Kinkaid said with a smile when asked about facing the Kings. “They come out real hard and we just had to weather their storm. Fortunately, we got a few good goals there and a few good breaks. … I’ll take wins no matter how they come, whether it’s 8-3, 7-5 or 3-0. Any win is good right now.”
Kinkaid’s dominance of the Kings was especially evident in the first period when he made 19 saves, stopping nine shots during the Kings’ four power-plays, including 58 seconds of 5-on-3 play.
“He’s played well against us, so we weren’t surprised he played because his record against us is very good,” Kings coach John Stevens said. “I just thought we didn’t do enough to make his job more difficult. We were at the net, but not taking his eyes away enough.”
The Kings’ inability to execute on the power play was costly, with Grabner’s short-handed goal at 8:29 of the first period giving the Devils a 1-0 lead when he intercepted Drew Doughty’s pass at the blue line to spring his breakaway.
New Jersey’s 10 short-handed goals are tied with Florida, Nashville and Edmonton for most in the NHL.
It was the first short-handed goal allowed at home by the Kings this season, which leaves Carolina as the only team in the NHL that has not conceded a short-handed goal at home.
“That turned out to be the biggest play of the game,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said. “When you get those power play opportunities there, you want to cash in on them and we failed to do so.”
The Devils went up 2-0 on Hischier’s third goal in the last four games. The rookie center, who has five points in that span, scored on a wrist shot from the high slot. Damon Severon had an assist for the third consecutive game, and Brian Gibbons got his third assist in two games.
New Jersey had four shots in the first.
“We were obviously a little bit opportunistic there. At this time of the year it doesn’t matter. We’ll take ’em how we can get ’em,” Devils defenseman Andy Greene said. “Keith was huge back there, PK did a really good job and really gave us momentum a couple times. It’s just a huge, huge two points again on the road.”
Wood made it 3-0 at 6:06 in the third. Brian Boyle had the assist to extend his point streak to three games.
NOTES: Devils F Patrick Maroon did not play because of a lower-body injury. … New Jersey is 27-0-2 when leading after the second period. … Los Angeles went 0 for 6 with the man advantage, matching its most chances in a game without a power-play goal this season.
Devils: Visit the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night.
Kings: Open a four-game road trip at the Minnesota Wild on Monday night.
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