JOHN TAVARES: “Obviously, probably a little bit of rust and just getting back into the rhythm of things. Overall, I think physically I felt pretty good. Certainly, I can play a lot better, but good to get back in it. It was a tight hockey game and just great we came through at the end.”

HEAD COACH MIKE BABCOCK On tonight’s game: We knew as a coaching staff – obviously, we did the pre-scout – we knew what we were in for. We knew it was going to be a grind. After the first period, the teams were on pace for 21-21 in shots. They did a real good job in the neutral zone; they did a real good job in their own zone blocking shots and staying on the inside. They just stayed with it. That’s what they’ve been doing. They’ve got good leadership there. If you look at it, they’ve got stars in three positions in Kopitar, Doughty and then in net [Quick]. So, they’ve got some leadership for the group as they try to build it. Obviously, their coach and their staff did a real good job. They made it hard, there was no free space. It was hard, but I thought it was a really good game for our team to just stay the course, this is where we are, do things right, don’t cheat and you’ll be rewarded in the end.

On Tavares’ return to the lineup: We were just talking about it. It doesn’t matter what you do, how hard you train, what work. He was fine but you’re not playing NHL games. I imagine Hyman is going to go through a stretch too. It’s hard when you’re sitting out and everyone else is practicing no matter who you work with and how good the development team is and all that stuff, it’s still not NHL hockey.

On if Dermott is rounding into his usual form: Yeah, the offensive side. You’ve still got to – you can’t have chances, that’s the key. Chances – you’ve got to be safe. Do all the other stuff and be safe and then you’re like the old guy.

On Petan’s performance tonight: I thought it was good for Petey. He went to work. He went down, went to work, came back and, obviously, there’s a guy for that spot so there’s not going to be a lot of opportunity. [Moore] is a real good hockey player too. It was an opportunity and we wanted to see Pete. Good for him.

On the Matthews line scoring a pair of goals despite few chances: I thought it was a tough night for every line. I thought Kerfoot’s line was real good, but there wasn’t a whole lot. From their end, they didn’t generate anything either. They had to throw it in, couldn’t get it through from the point, the blocked shots. Some people would think it was ugly, I thought it was beautiful.

On what Kerfoot brings to the team: I think Kerf is a good hockey player. A real smart, smart person, a good person, he works hard. He’s greasy, he’s competitive, he knows how to play, he’s just going to get better and better. I think we can have an unbelievable line there with [Mikheyev] and [Kapanen] once we get it organized and they get to know each other and feel good.

On Marner taking shorthanded faceoffs: I forget what happened, it’s just the way it was. Hyman will take those right-handed faceoffs when he’s back. Hyms is good at it, he’ll work at it. [Shore] has done a heck of a job for us there, really good job.

On why he thinks tonight was a beautiful game: We need to go through that. We need to figure out who we are and the harder the game is the better it is for the team. Now, would you like to win by a touchdown and everyone relax and all that? Yeah, but we’re not getting anywhere like that. This is important to do. You give up one goal, you play well without the puck, the goalie makes some saves, we didn’t win it on special teams, we had to grind. It’s good for us.

On the Kings being a different style of team than McLellan’s previous teams: That’s what I said this morning — every team you coach is different. The reason it’s different is you have a different group of guys. That’s how he has to coach to have success with this team. I talked to him for a long time this morning, did the pre-scout, have a pretty good handle on what the program is there. He’s going to do a real nice job

. On if Hyman will be available next game: I don’t know.

ALEX KERFOOT (1 GOAL)

On the hit he received by Jeff Carter in the first period: It was a pretty big hit. He made a good play; I had my head down a little bit and saw him at the last second but couldn’t get out of the way.

On his second period goal: It was good. It was kind of a broken play. There was a good line change by [Moore] and they turned the puck over right at the blue line and I was fortunate enough to be in a good spot and tried to put it on net and it went in.

On what the Kings did well tonight: They play well defensively. They lock it down pretty good, they don’t give up a lot off the rush, they kind of stay back and they’re tough to play against. We played them pretty good, stuck with our game plan and were able to get a couple there at the end.

AUSTON MATTHEWS (1 GOAL, 1 ASSIST)

On the team’s performance tonight: I think we just stayed patient throughout the whole game. Not really much going on, I guess, in the first two periods, but we tried to stay patient and tried to play as little in our zone as we could, just tried to break out fast. Obviously, a tight game there and couple of big goals in the third.

On the challenge of staying patient when the opponent tries to slow the team down: It’s tough, but, I mean, that’s what a lot of teams tend to do, especially against us. We can do a better job of getting through the neutral zone and keeping it a bit more simple so we can get in the offensive zone and play in there. At times, games are going to be like that. Just try to stay patient, work with one another and continue to push through.

JAKE MUZZIN (22:19 TOI)

On playing his former team: It was weird. It was weird. A couple of chirps, a couple of laughs, but, at the end, of the day, you’re still trying to do your job and play hard. I don’t know, some funny moments and some serious ones. It was fun.

On if Kopitar told him to go to the penalty box in the second period: Yeah, I was complaining. It was a penalty, though.

On if he had any fun moments during the game with Doughty: He tripped me one time. I tripped him. A couple of subtle jokes back and forth, nothing crazy. I didn’t get him too fired up

. WILLIAM NYLANDER (1 GOAL, 1 ASSIST)

On what he liked about the team’s effort: I thought we were patient. We didn’t try to force much. We grinded through the game.

On if it’s good to be able to win a tight game like this: Yeah, of course. When it’s 1-1 going into the third, we’ve got to be able to win those games. We’ve been tied going into a lot of third periods and this was a good start in the right direction

JOHN TAVARES (18:00 TOI)

On how it felt to get back into game action: Not bad. Obviously, probably a little bit of rust and just getting back into the rhythm of things. Overall, I think physically I felt pretty good. Certainly, I can play a lot better, but good to get back in it. It was a tight hockey game and just great we came through at the end. Big couple of goals by [Matthews’] line. On missing an open net in the first period: Obviously, I’d love to have it back. I think I had way more time than I thought and knowing the type of goalie Quick is I got underneath it. It is what it is. You just move on and get ready for the next opportunity. Just glad that at the end of the day the result was still two points.

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