LOS ANGELES — With one swipe of his goalie stick flush into the mid-section of Colorado center Daniel Winnik, a month’s worth of frustration seemed to spill from Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
Not the happiest way to celebrate a birthday.
Quick, selected to his first All-Star Game last week, took a one-handed swing at Winnik as he came out from behind the net 13 seconds after the Avalanche scored the final goal in a 3-1 victory Saturday night at Staples Center.
Quick earned a slashing penalty on the play with 1:44 remaining -- only the second penalty in his five-year career -- ending any chance of a late comeback. The Kings entered the game as the lowest-scoring team in the NHL, but thanks to Quick’s play this season still had a chance to move back atop the Pacific Division standings with a regulation victory against the Avalanche.
Instead, their three closest pursuers in the Western Conference, Colorado, Minnesota and Calgary, gained further ground on the seventh-place Kings.
Quick, clearly still agitated as he sat in his locker stall after the game, said the slashing penalty was in response to a trip from Winnik as he skated behind the net.
“He took my leg out,” said Quick, who turned 26 on Saturday.
Quick, normally one of the more unemotional players on the Kings, called it a “spur of the moment” decision to lash out at Winnik, but teammate Justin Williams said he believed the outburst has been building.
Despite a 1.92 goals-against average coming into the game, third-best in the league, Quick’s record dropped to 20-12-9. He has skated off without a victory for his efforts more times not this season.
In six of his nine starts this month, the Kings have scored one goal or fewer.
“He’s frustrated that we’re not scoring goals, supporting him,” Williams said. “I’m sure he’ll never say that, but we’ve got to do that for him.”
Like a number of those in attendance, Kings coach Darryl Sutter did not see what precipitated the slash, and had never seen Quick respond that way since he took over as coach last month, but once he spoke with his assistant coaches and received an explanation, he supported Quick’s reaction.
“He’s a competitor and I think I’ll take that,” Sutter said.
How much more Quick can take is another matter.