LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Los Angeles Kings sent Jonathan Bernier back to the minors on Friday after the 21-year-old goalie won two games over the previous three days.
Bernier shut out Nashville and earned an 8-3 victory over Vancouver in his second callup of the season from the AHL’s Manchester Monarchs to replace injured backup Erik Ersberg.
Los Angeles coach Terry Murray praised Bernier, but reaffirmed his commitment to starter Jonathan Quick through the Kings’ likely playoff berth. Quick already set a franchise record with 39 wins while starting 68 of the Kings’ first 75 games.
“There’s no controversy,” Murray said. “(Quick) is a big reason the Kings are where they are. Quicker is our guy … (but Bernier) is taking advantage of some opportunities to play and show he’s a blue-chipper.”
Murray said Quick will start against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday night at Staples Center, and again in the Freeway Faceoff rematch at the Honda Center on Tuesday night.
Ersberg was cleared to return to action Thursday after missing two games with a strained back.
Bernier became the youngest goalie in Kings history to post a shutout when he blanked the Predators to snap Los Angeles’ four-game winless streak. He was named to the AHL’s All-Star first team Thursday after winning 29 games in Manchester with a 2.07 goals-against average and a .936 save percentage.
Bernier played four games for the Kings last year, but emerged frustrated and impatient from his first taste of the NHL. Los Angeles’ first-round draft pick in 2006 has won all three of his starts in two callups this season, allowing just four goals with a .957 save percentage.
“This year I just told myself to go down there (to Manchester) and try and dominate, and when I get my chance, I will be ready,” Bernier said after stopping 27 shots against the Canucks.
Los Angeles is in seventh place in the Western Conference standings, beginning the night with a seven-point lead over ninth-place Calgary with five games to play.
The Kings are close to clinching their first playoff berth since 2002.