For at least one afternoon, there will be a Los Angeles branch of the Chicago Blackhawks Fan Club.
The Kings earned one point Saturday night in a ragged 2-1 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks before a sellout crowd at STAPLES Center, a result that reduced, to two, the Kings’ magic number for making the playoffs.
The Kings will certainly be interested observers on Sunday afternoon, when Chicago hosts Calgary. If the ninth-place Flames lose in regulation, the Kings will be assured of a playoff spot for the first time since 2002.
``We got one point out of it too, which is a little something to put toward our total,’’ Kings goalie Jonathan Quick said. ``We definitely need to have a better start and throw a little emotion and desperation into our game.’’
Jack Johnson scored a first-period power-play goal for the Kings, and Saku Koivu tied the game with a third-period power-play goal. Koivu then scored the only goal of the three-round shootout.
In goal, the Kings went back to Quick, who sat out the previous two games, when rookie Jonathan Bernier got two wins. Quick looked sharp for most of the game and finished with 32 saves.
``He was sharp,’’ Kings coach Terry Murray said. ``He was real alert. He found a lot of pucks. There was a lot of traffic around our net. There were cycles going on. The Koivu line played good, with the other line, Perry and Ryan. They do a lot of good work, with holding onto the puck and taking it hard to the net. But he found the puck from the blue line, looking through traffic. He looks like he's back on top.’’
Otherwise, there weren’t many highlights for the Kings. Their passing was often sloppy and they generated few strong scoring chances for most of the first two periods. That was a bit surprising, given that the Kings were coming off Saturday’s eight-goal game.
``We've come out with very good efforts, right from the very beginning, and we got ourselves in trouble with turnovers again,’’ Murray said. ``It is a young group of guys who have a very hard time understanding how important it is to establish certain parts of your game. We definitely have to learn from this one.
``The decisions within the game allow you to get offensive opportunities. We were trying to do too much. We have to elevate the tempo. We have to tighten things up and give ourselves closer support. We know how to play. It’s not hard to understand. It’s just that the young guys need to buy into it completely for us to be successful in the playoffs.’’
The Kings took a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal with 19.3 seconds remaining in the first period. Johnson's slap shot, from just inside the blue line, got deflected by Anaheim's Troy Bodie and past Curtis McElhinney. Ryan Smyth and Randy Jones got assists.
Shots were 10-9 in favor of the Kings in a scoreless second period, although the Kings thought they had taken a two-goal lead.
Jarret Stoll knocked the puck into the Ducks' net, but video review showed that he actually put it under the piping of the dislodged net.
The Ducks tied the game with a power-play goal with 1:32 remaining. After a scramble in front of the Kings' net, Koivu shot over Quick, who had gone down to try to cover the puck.
``They have a bunch of players that are good around the net,’’ Quick said of the Ducks, ``and I can remember some times where they would take it in and create stuff in front of the net. That is what they did on the game-tying goal. They just took it to the net, and it worked for them.’’
``This one is tough to swallow, but we have got to put it behind us,’’ Kopitar said. ``We have four games left to make sure we do the job.’’
``Our neutral-zone game was not as sharp today as it maybe it was the last couple of days, but like I said, we have to put this one behind us. We got one point out of it too, which is a little something to put toward our total. We definitely need to have a better start and throw a little emotion and desperation into our game.’’
The Kings played without forward Jeff Halpern, who suffered an upper-body injury in Thursday's victory over Vancouver. Raitis Ivanans took Halpern's place on the active roster.
LAKings.com's NOTES The Kings can clinch a playoff spot if Calgary loses IN REGULATION at Chicago tomorrow
...The Kings have clinched the Freeway Faceoff (presented by Subway) for the second straight season. The Kings are 3-1-1 (7 pts) and the Ducks are 2-3-0 (4 pts) with one game remaining
...Randy Jones has assists in three straight games
...Jack Johnson has four points in the last four games (1-3=4)
...Ryan Smyth has eight points in the last eight games (2-6=8)
...The Kings are now 29-0-1 when leading after two periods and 34-7-4 when scoring first
...Dustin Brown played in his 100th consecutive game (streak started Feb. 27, 2009)
...The Kings are now 14-6-2 vs. the Pacific Division
...The Kings have now had 95+ points in a season five times (1974-75, 1980-81, 1990-91 and 2001-02)
1 - 0 LAK