LOS ANGELES: Two third period goals in a :40 second span catapulted the Kings to a 4-0 win over the Coyotes Wednesday night at STAPLES Center, solidifying the return of playoff hockey to Los Angeles this spring.
The win clinched the Kings’ fifth consecutive playoff berth, locking up the Pacific Division’s third spot. In the past five seasons that the Kings have qualified for a playoff seeding, Wednesday night was the first time they clinched their berth on home ice.
For the Kings, clinching a playoff berth has more so become what is expected to be accomplished, rather than something that should be celebrated to excess. Dustin Brown chimed in with his thoughts after the win against Phoenix:
“Maybe four or five years ago, this was a big deal, now this is just part of the process. It is good to get it out of the way now when we need to use our remaining games to get our game in order.”
Phoenix, who finds themselves outside the west’s playoff bubble, needed a win against the Kings to maintain pace with the Dallas Stars, who have snuck ahead of the Coyotes in the wild-card standings.
The Kings made rather light work of the Coyotes, beating them in most, if not all aspects of the game, maintaining them and outworking them handily.
Carter saw Pearson’s positioning, fed him across the slot, and he absolutely hammered it home, notching his third career NHL goal, his second against Phoenix.
In the opening minutes of the second period, Drew Doughty gave the Kings a 2-0 lead with a power play goal, double-clutching on a shot from 30 feet out, beating Phoenix’s Thomas Greiss for his 10th goal of the season.
The Kings entered the third period holding a 2-0 lead, with full control of Phoenix, who were struggling mightily to get any sort of momentum going their way.
It wasn’t your basic offensive insurance that secured the Kings’ playoff-clinching win Wednesday night; it was a late-game back breaker, one that absolutely buried the Coyotes in front of more than 18,000 spectators.
Two goals in a :40 second span ended it for Phoenix, and all the Kings had to do was play out the remaining time on the clock until their fifth consecutive postseason appearance was a guarantee.
Jeff Carter gave the Kings a 3-0 lead, beating Thomas Greiss with a wrist shot all alone on a fast break, and Anze Kopitar gave the Kings a 4-0 lead :40 seconds later, receiving a pass from Marian Gaborik and one-timing it home to all but put an end to the Coyotes’ night.
With Jonathan Quick’s shutout tonight, the Kings set a new franchise record for shutouts in a single season with 12. Martin Jones (3), Ben Scrivens (3), and Jonathan Quick (6) all combined to set the feat.
For Quick, it was his 31st career shutout, which is one behind Rogie Vachon’s 32, which is the club record for career shutouts for a single player.
Tonight was the Kings’ 1,500th all-time regular season win.
The Kings are now en route to Northern California to play the San Jose Sharks Thursday evening at the SAP Center. These two clubs will likely see each other in the first round of the playoffs, meeting for the third consecutive time in the postseason.