Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson watches the puck go into the net as Los Angeles Kings defenseman Jack Johnson scores during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Gus Ruelas)
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Although every other NHL team has scored more goals than the Los Angeles Kings this season, they're still in a first-place tie in the Pacific Division.
Jonathan Quick showed the Ottawa Senators why the low-scoring Kings still have high aspirations.
Kyle Clifford had a goal and an assist, Quick made 27 saves while barely missing his seventh shutout, and Los Angeles rolled into its all-star break with a 4-1 victory over the Senators on Monday night.
Trevor Lewis scored on a penalty shot and Jack Johnson scored during a two-man advantage for the Kings, who moved even with San Jose atop the division after earning a point for the 16th time in 18 games. Los Angeles had climbed in the standings despite managing just five regulation goals in its previous four games—and even after scoring four against Ottawa, the Kings are still last in the NHL with 111 goals.
None of it bothered Quick, who is headed to his first all-star game appearance in style.
"We're going to have some games where we score in bunches, and we're going to have games where we have to battle it out," said Quick, who leads the NHL in shutouts and ranks among the league's best in most other statistical categories. "We're been getting points consistently in the past 15 games, so even though we have a bit of a break now, we've got to try to bottle this and bring it back."
Quick shut down the Senators' powerful lineup until captain Daniel Alfredsson's power-play goal with 11:23 to play. His teammates had already built a four-goal lead and chased Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson by breaking out of their latest scoring slump with unlikely help from Clifford, the 21-year-old player who leads the Kings in penalty minutes.
Clifford scored midway through the second period on a rebound out of a goal-mouth scramble that started with his own shot, beating Anderson for his third goal of the season. Clifford got his second multipoint game of the month and his career—and the goal completed his Gordie Howe hat trick after an early fight with Zenon Konopka, allowing Clifford to beat Kevin Westgarth to every enforcer's dream achievement.
"Me and Westy had a bet who would get it first," said Clifford, who won a porterhouse steak at a restaurant of his choice. "I've had a 52-ounce one, so we'll try to beat that. It feels good, because we've had that bet going for two years."
Willie Mitchell scored Los Angeles' first goal in the clubs' only meeting of the season. Drew Doughty and Colin Fraser had two assists apiece in the Kings' final game before an eight-day break for the all-star weekend.
Anderson stopped 22 shots before Alex Auld replaced him to start the third period for the Senators, who lost on both of their Southern California stops during their six-game stretch away from Scotiabank Place, the site of this week's NHL All-Star festivities.
Alfredsson scored his second goal in eight games for the Senators, who wrap up their pre-break schedule Tuesday at Phoenix. Ottawa still has won 10 of 14 games since shortly after Christmas.
"They did a better job of getting to our net than we did of getting to theirs," Ottawa coach Paul MacLean said. "You can't take penalties and continue to have success killing them off, especially 5-on-3. We have to be better."
Johnson connected with a hard shot late in a 72-second stretch of 5-on-3 advantage, matching his career high with his eighth goal.
Lewis then was awarded a penalty shot when the referee apparently thought Ottawa's Chris Phillips closed his hand on the puck in the crease. Replays didn't show the alleged infraction, but Lewis scored his second goal in 40 games this season.
"I was upset because I thought I just swiped it, which is what happened," Phillips said. "One of the guys said they showed it up (on the scoreboard) and he thought he could see the puck the whole time. It's frustrating when you're struggling in the game and then you get some calls against you, but you can't let it affect you and the team. But it's tough. Emotions run high and sometimes get the best of you."
Mitchell scored his third goal of the season on a long, fluttering shot that beat Anderson to the far side of his net. Los Angeles nearly added another in the first period, but Doughty's tip in front trickled between Anderson's legs an instant after the buzzer sounded.
NOTES: Jason Spezza, Ottawa's leading scorer, was hit in the head by an errant puck during pregame warmups. Spezza left the ice but returned for the game, relieving hometown fans who expect him in the lineup for the all-star game. ... Anderson yielded more than two goals for the first time in eight starts. ... Kings F Justin Williams extended his point streak to eight games with a second-period assist. ... Los Angeles Clippers guard Mo Williams attended the game.