There was nothing quick about Sunday for Jonathan Quick.
“It’s a long day,” he said. “You’re thinking about it. You just want the game to start . . . There’s a lot of thoughts running through your head. Tough to nap.”
When the puck finally did drop, Quick looked rested and ready, and the result was a night to remember for the Rangers’ backup goaltender.
Quick made 25 saves in the Rangers’ 4-1 win over the Kings at Madison Square Garden in his first career game against his longtime former team.
“Obviously, it’s special,” he said. “It’s a game that this summer, when the schedule comes out, you know when we’re playing them.”
Quick spent 16 seasons with the Kings, with whom he won two Stanley Cups, including in 2014, when they beat the Rangers in the Final.
But last March his long run in Los Angeles abruptly ended with a trade to the Blue Jackets, who then sent him to the Golden Knights, with whom he won a third Cup.
Quick joined the Rangers as a free agent before this season and is 8-0-1 as Igor Shesterkin’s backup.
The victory over the Kings (16-5-4) was important for the Rangers (19-6-1) beyond the Quick story.
They had lost games against Ottawa and Washington by a combined 10-2 — the first time this season they had lost consecutive games — and were trying to avoid letting that grow into their first slump of the season against a team that had been 11-0 on the road before losing to the Islanders at UBS Arena on Saturday.
Asked if he sensed his teammates wanted this one for him, Quick said, “You could see it, really, just their effort, attention to detail, everything. The team’s performance was phenomenal.”
Said coach Peter Laviolette, “I thought it was fantastic for him to have the success he’s had with one organization and to come in here and play as well as he has for us.”
Laviolette said “everyone was pumped” about the matchup.
“Obviously, this is one that we really wanted to have for him,” said Vincent Trocheck, who had the primary assist on three of the Rangers’ goals.
The Rangers were sluggish in a scoreless first period but came to life in the second, outshooting the Kings 11-2.
Mika Zibanejad opened the scoring with a power-play goal from the left circle off a feed from Trocheck at 8:27 of the second, beating Kings backup Pheonix Copley.
The Rangers made it 2-0 at 17:27 of the second when a leaping Nick Bonino foiled a Kings clearing attempt and found Jimmy Vesey behind the defense. His backhand shot went through Copley’s legs.
Phillip Danault’s power-play goal got the Kings within one at 6:37 of the third, but Jonny Brodzinski scored a power-play goal — his first goal of the season — from the slot at 11:32. Rookie Will Cuylle’s score clinched it at 15:24.
But the story of the night was Quick, and he reveled in it.
“Having never played them before and the way it ended there, you’re just kind of replaying a lot of the memories throughout the day,” he said. “Once you get out there, it’s a hockey game and you’re full focused on that.”
Quick was feisty throughout the game and was called for roughing in the third period. He said he did not hear much trash talk from former teammates as he made several big saves.
In the third period alone, he made a huge toe save on Pierre-Luc Dubois and later made a glove save on Carl Grundstrom with a dramatic flourish.
“If [my situation] gave the guys a little more motivation, great,” Quick said. “We obviously responded.”