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Even-keeled Quick saves Kings again

LOS ANGELES -- Jonathan Quick doesn't dwell on anything very long.

Good, bad or indifferent, the Los Angeles Kings' goalie is usually focused on anything but the game he has just played by the time he skates off the ice, takes off his pads and sits before the media.

He speaks with the same low, monotone, almost annoyed cadence whether he has given up a game-winning goal or has produced a shutout. Because if there's one thing Quick dislikes more than talking about himself, it's talking about games and plays in his rearview mirror.

But whether Quick likes it or not, the Kings' hopes of winning the Stanley Cup, as was the case last season, rest largely on his shoulders. And, as was the case last season, that's good news for the Kings.

Quick had his second shutout of the postseason and fifth straight win in the Kings' 2-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series.

It has been quite a turnaround for Quick, who opened the postseason auspiciously with a monumental gaffe in St. Louis when Blues forward Alexander Steen intercepted Quick's pass behind the Kings' net and backhanded the puck into a vacant net for the win in overtime.
After standing on his head for three periods, Quick giftwrapped the game for the Blues as they went on to take a 2-0 series lead.

Now, if you're looking for some kind of revealing, introspective answer from Quick on how he turned an embarrassing blunder to open the playoffs into a run of five games reminiscent of his Conn Smythe-winning performance last season, well, you've come to the wrong place.

That would insinuate Quick gave his mistake a second thought since it happened, and even though you know he has, he'll never admit it. As Quick said at the time, "If we had won, I put it right away. If we lost like we did, I put it right away. It doesn't make a difference. We'll try to win Game 2."

After his shutout Tuesday night, Quick had a similar demeanor to the one he had in St. Louis. His responses were short and his focus was on the next game.

"We got better, but I don't think we played our best game," Quick said. "We got some work to do if we expect to win Game 2. We definitely have some work to do."

The work Quick has done this postseason has been even more impressive than his work last postseason during the Kings' Stanley Cup-winning run, which is bad news for the Sharks and any team that might face the Kings if they advance.

Quick has now stopped 202 of 212 shots in seven playoff games this year for a .953 save percentage and two shutouts. Last postseason, Quick had a .946 save percentage and three shutouts in 20 games. Quick's goals against average of 1.36 is not only better than his 1.41 last postseason but a massive improvement over his 2.45 average during the regular season. And Quick's .953 save percentage is also a huge upgrade from the .902 he had during the regular season, when he had only one shutout.

"I'd say everyone in this room has another level," Quick said. "Everyone has some work to do, including myself. We're just going to try to continue to get better and do everything we can to try to win Game 2."

Trying to get Quick to expand on his performance during the playoffs is a little bit like trying to get a shot past him. You can pepper him all you want, but good luck trying to get him to open up.

"You're just playing in the moment," Quick said. "I think the guys here do a great job of that."

No one in the Kings' locker room doubted Quick's ability to recover from his Game 1 error and his loss in Game 2 when the Kings returned to Los Angeles. There was no need for players or coaches to console Quick or lift him up. They already knew he would be ready for the next game.

"He was really good," Kings coach Darryl Sutter said. "You're never really concerned about him to be quite honest. Last series, everybody was wondering, except for the locker room, how he was going to play after Game 1 and Game 2. It's not really an issue. We expected this."

Going up against a Sharks team that had scored 15 goals against the Vancouver Canucks in a four-game sweep, Quick made 35 saves with several of them reminiscent of the incredible saves he had during the Kings' last postseason.

Kings captain Dustin Brown laughed when he was asked about Quick's performance after the game. He has become accustomed to seeing Quick save the Kings time after time over the past two seasons, and Tuesday night was just the latest example.

"He's been our MVP for the last couple of years and tonight he was our player," Brown said. "That's Quickie being Quickie. You guys should be used to it by now."