The Kings have secured a playoff spot, and their first-round opponent – regardless of who it is – is going to be a tough one. Do the Kings still have something to play for?
After the Kings played another up-and-down game, this time taking a two-goal lead and losing it in the third period before falling to Phoenix 3-2 in a shootout on Thursday night, before a sellout crowd at STAPLES Center, coach Terry Murray found a rallying cry.
Get to 100 points.
The shootout loss brought the Kings to 99 points and moved them into fifth place in the Western Conference, with two games remaining in the regular season. If that holds, the Kings would face fourth-place Phoenix in the first round.
And if the Kings get at least one point in their last two games, they will become only the third team in franchise history to reach 100 points in a season.
``We would like to get over that 100-point plateau,’’ Murray said. ``I think that's an important goal to achieve. At the end of the year, in the summer time, you're talking about how your year was, and when you say, `We got 100-plus points,' that's a pretty nice thing. So we still have that opportunity.
``Seed-wise, things can happen. I don't know who I would prefer to play, but I want to be playing better. I want to have that 60 minutes and playing with more discipline, more composure.’’
The 1974-75 team totaled a franchise-record 105 points, and the 1990-91 team had 102 points, a mark these Kings can still match if they finish the season 2-0. The Kings host Edmonton on Saturday and play at Colorado on Sunday.
The issue there, however, is that the Kings have yet to play a complete game in a while.
In Tuesday’s shootout victory over Anaheim, the Kings trailed by three goals in the second period but rallied to get two points. This time, the Kings held a 2-0 third-period lead but allowed two goals in the final eight minutes of regulation.
Adrian Aucoin scored in the fourth round of the shootout to give Phoenix the win.
``We're obviously pretty disappointed,’’ said defenseman Drew Doughty, who scored the Kings’ first goal. ``We want to get on a roll here before the playoffs start. Up by two goals, with however many minutes were left, we can't let them get back in the game and win that game. If we're doing that in the playoffs, we're going to be losing four-nothing in a series. We need to learn from that and step forward.
``We're obviously really disappointed that we let them back in the game. We've just got to learn from it. We've done it before. I know, last year, we did it a ton and we've improved from last year, doing that. Hopefully we continue to improve, and don't do it in the playoffs.’’
As is becoming typical, there were positives and negatives for the Kings to take from this game.
The positives? The Kings went 6-for-6 on the penalty kill and held the Coyotes’ power play to a total of only three shots. The Kings got goals from two defensemen, Drew Doughty and Jack Johnson, and managed the game well for 2 1/2 periods.
The negatives? Mostly that, for the second time in their last three games, the Kings were unable to turn a third-period lead into two points. After starting the season 29-0-0 when leading after two periods, the Kings are now 0-0-2 in such situations in the last week.
``It's that time of the year, when everybody is trying to get right on top of their game,’’ Kings forward Ryan Smyth said. ``We certainly have to work on that a little more. We still have two more games left, so we want to finish off on a good note. Fifth place is still up for grabs too, so it's definitely something to play for. We've got to realize that and get after it.’’
In goal, the Kings went back to Jonathan Quick (25 saves), who got pulled in the second period Tuesday at Anaheim, while Phoenix started former Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera (22 saves).
Shots were 8-5 Coyotes in a scoreless first period. Phoenix had three power plays in the period but generated only two shots with the man advantage.
The Kings broke the scoreless tie with Doughty's goal 7:48 into the second period. Anze Kopitar won a neutral-zone battle and pushed the puck to Doughty, who split two Coyotes, skated it hard and, from a sharp angle, tucked a backhand shot around LaBarbera for a 1-0 Kings lead.
Kopitar set a career high with his 46th assist, and Justin Williams also got an assist on Doughty's goal, which was one of the highlight goals of the Kings' season.
Johnson gave the Kings a two-goal lead 9:16 into the third period. Johnson worked the puck out of the Kings' zone and pushed it ahead to Smyth, then joined the rush in the offensive end. Smyth sent a pass to Johnson, who cut to the net and beat LaBarbera.
Phoenix got on the scoreboard with 7:17 remaining in the third period. Wojtek Wolski won the puck in the corner, behind the Kings' net, and flipped a centering pass to Matthew Lombardi. Lombardi got his stick on the puck before Kopitar could deflect it away, and beat Quick from close range.
The Coyotes tied the game less than two minutes after their first goal. Taylor Pyatt, positioned in the slot, got a deflection on Zbynek Michalek's point shot and scored with 5:53 remaining in the third period.
``We lose two faceoffs and it's a tied game,’’ Murray said. ``That's frustrating. Obviously, you like to win the faceoffs, but on both of those goals you just have to have heavier sticks and sticks in the right place. You do a better job on it.’’
The Kings need one more point to clinch at least the seventh seed in the Western Conference...If the Kings win their final two games they would clinch the fifth seed ...Anze Kopitar earned his 46th assist tonight, a career high ...Kopitar has 80 points this season. The last King to score 80 points in a season was Michael Cammalleri in 2006-07 ... Jonathan Quick appeared in his 71st game this season, tying a Kings single-season record (Felix Potvin appeared in 71 in 2001-02) ...Ryan Smyth has 10 points in the last 10 games (2-8-10) ... Justin Williams has four points in the last four games (2-2=4) ... The Kings are 3-0-2 in their last five games.