Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

Hockey

Kings clinch playoff spot with win over Coyotes

Kyle Clifford had the tying goal late in the second period, Jarret Stoll also scored and the Los Angeles Kings clinched their second straight playoff berth with a 3-2 shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night.

Stoll also had the deciding goal in the tiebreaker, his ninth in 10 shots during shootouts this season and eighth in a row. Jonathan Quick made 33 saves and stopped Lauri Korpikoski to end the game, improving to 10-0 in shootouts and helping the Kings set a franchise record with 46 victories.

Both teams came in knowing that a victory would mathematically put them in the postseason. The Coyotes need one more point to secure their second straight postseason berth.

Los Angeles concludes its regular-season schedule with a home-and-home set against the Anaheim Ducks, who tightened their grip on a playoff berth with a 6-2 win over San Jose. The Kings and Ducks have never been to the postseason in the same year since the NHL expanded to Anaheim in 1993-94.

Lee Stempniak and Taylor Pyatt scored first period goals for Phoenix and Ilya Bryzgalov made 31 saves.

Pyatt was one of three players who returned to the Coyotes, along with Korpikoski and All-Star defenseman Ed Jovanovski. Jovanovski played his first game since fracturing the orbital bone in his left eye Feb. 17.

The Kings were coming off a 6-1 loss at San Jose in which Quick gave up four goals on 16 shots and was pulled for only the third time in 58 starts this season. Now all they have to concern themselves with is playoff seeding and getting home-ice advantage for the opening round, which they would do with a sweep of the Ducks. They are fourth in the Western Conference with a one-point lead over Phoenix and Nashville.

Getting those last two points wasn't easy for coach Terry Murray's streaky club, which has been muddling along without their two leading point producers. Anze Kopitar missed his fifth straight game because of a broken right ankle and Justin Williams was sidelined for the seventh game in a row with dislocated shoulder. Their status for the playoffs is unknown.

Pyatt put Phoenix ahead 2-1 at 17:58 of the first period, slamming his 18th goal into a wide-open net after Stempniak's wrist shot from a sharp angle to the left of the net caromed off Quick's left leg and into the slot.

The Kings tied it at 17:03 of the second. Wayne Simmonds played a pass off the right boards in the neutral zone from Rob Scuderi, eluded a check from Keith Yandle at the blue line and spotted Clifford cruising down the slot a step ahead of defenseman Michal Rozsival. Clifford redirected Simmonds' pass from the right circle past Bryzgalov's right leg for his seventh goal.

Kings captain Dustin Brown did most of the work on the game's first goal, carrying the puck through the neutral zone past two Phoenix players and then making a nice move to stickhandle past defenseman Rostislav Klesla in the right circle before setting up Stoll at the left of the crease for a backhander at 12:21 of the first.

The Coyotes tied it at the 14-minute mark. Vernon Fiddler beat Stoll to the puck behind the Kings' net and it bounced to Pyatt, who set up Stempniak in the slot for a screened 25-foot slap shot that beat Quick to the glove side. It was Stempniak's 19th goal this season and seventh against Los Angeles, including a hat trick on Oct. 21 at Phoenix.

NOTES: Stoll, who scored the only goal in the Kings' win over Phoenix on March 3 at Staples Center, became the sixth Kings player this season with at least 20. It's first time they've had that many 20-goal scorers since 1992-93, the only time they made it to the Stanley Cup finals. ... The Coyotes are the only team in the league without a 20-goal scorer. Captain Shane Doan has 19 along with Stempniak. ... Stoll's tripping penalty at 7:51 of the first ended a stretch of 127 minutes and 59 seconds in which the Kings didn't have to use their penalty-killing unit — which entered the game with the second-best percentage in the league (85.8). Kings opponents have scored only two goals in their last 49 power plays. ... The Kings will go into the playoffs without anyone on the roster recording at least 80 points, the ninth time that's happened in club history. ... The Coyotes' regular-season schedule, which began in Prague with two games against Boston, concludes this weekend with a home-and-home set against the Sharks. ... Brown hasn't scored a goal in his last eight games against Phoenix. The Coyotes were one of only two Western Conference opponents he failed to score a goal against this season. The other was the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.