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Kings: Bernier makes a case to be No. 1 goalie

LOS ANGELES — The Kings could be witnessing a changing of the guard.

Jonathan Bernier, the backup goalie this season, got a rare chance to start a game that wasn’t part of a back-to-back set and he came through with a 1-0 shutout Thursday night against the Phoenix Coyotes at Staples Center.

Bernier stopped 25 shots while recording his second shutout of the season and the third of his career. He was named the starter after No. 1 goalie Jonathan Quick allowed six goals on 24 shots in a 7-4 loss Monday night against the visiting Detroit Red Wings. That performance came on the heels of a 4-3 victory Saturday against the Avalanche, when Quick allowed three goals in the final seven minutes, turning a runaway victory into a nailbiter.

Kings coach Terry Murray would not commit to his starter Saturday afternoon against Vancouver at Staples Center, but it would be difficult to replace Bernier at this point.

“Bernier had a real good game,” Murray said. “He had some plays coming at him where he worked very hard to find the puck, not only with his blocker and catching glove, but he got his body in front of some shots that were outstanding saves.”

Bernier, the 11th overall pick in the 2006 draft, has spent this season adjusting to his first-ever stint as a backup. He came into the game with a 7-8-2 record, a .904 save percentage and a 2.70 goals-against average. He started consecutive games just one other time this season.

His hot streak wasn’t limited to his performance against the Coyotes. In his last eight games, he has stopped 182 of 193 shots for a .943 save percentage. When asked if he was ready to assume the No. 1 goaltending role, Bernier smiled broadly but stuck with the company line.

“Any goalie would want to play more,” he said. "For me, it’s not something I focus on. Quick and I are here to win some hockey games.”

Bernier benefited from a strong supporting cast.

Veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi blocked nine shots while playing a season-high 27 minutes 8 seconds. Scuderi had extra ice time because fellow blue-liner Willie Mitchell missed parts of the first and second period after getting struck in the face with a puck.

"Scuds, he doesn’t get a lot of recognition,” said Kings defenseman Matt Greene. “But everybody in this room knows exactly what he does.”

They're also finding out that their backup goalie is pretty good too.