Game 77; 45-26-6
LOS ANGELES – It may have been only inevitable but the Los Angeles Kings are nevertheless going to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fifth-straight year after their convincing 4-0 win over the Phoenix Coyotes tonight. They may have lost three of four to the Desert Dogs this season but on Wednesday night, the Kings made the last meeting the most meaningful.
After surrendering a third-period lead on Monday en route to their loss to Minnesota, the Kings were determined to get off to a much better start and to close their homestand on a winning note. They did get off to a fast start and the one who kick-started them was the unsung Tanner Pearson.
Just 1:20 into the contest, Jeff Carter fed a cross-ice to Tanner Pearson who rifled his third past Thomas Greiss to put the silver-and-black out in front.
Having just played the previous night, netminder Thomas Greiss was back in the Phoenix net on Wednesday and the Kings needed to take advantage of the big German’s fatigue factor. They did just that with Pearson’s opening tally.
There were a share of missed calls for both teams in that first period but Los Angeles was the better of the two, limiting the Coyotes to just five shots. Of course, the seven shots the Kings took in that opening frame weren’t much better.
In the second, the Kings built on their start, scoring early again.
After going 10-for-49 on the man-advantage in March, the Kings wanted to improve – and improve they did. 2:27 into the middle frame, Drew Doughty snapped his 10th past Greiss to put Los Angeles up by a pair.
While they weren’t able to score again in the period, the Kings shut down the Desert Dogs, outshooting them 15-7 in the middle stanza.
Entering the third, the Kings were hoping not to repeat their mistakes from Monday night. Not only did they hold their lead but they built on it.
At the 9:10 mark of the third period, Jeff Carter potted his team-leading 27th (from Tanner Pearson) to put the home team up by a field goal. Then, just 40 seconds later, Marian Gaborik fed Anze Kopitar who cashed in for his 25th to put the Kings up by a four-spot. Alec Martinez collected the second assist adding to his earlier helper on Doughty’s goal.
And that, my friends, was all she wrote as the Los Angeles Kings cruise to a 4-0 victory, clinching a playoff berth and, in the process, notching the franchise’s 1500th victory.
Also, the Kings pick up their 45th win of the season, leaving them just one win shy of their franchise-record set three different times: 1990-91, 2009-10 and 2010-11. The 46-win plateau is also the career-high for head coach Darryl Sutter who accomplished the feat with Calgary in 2005-06.
Lost in all of this, however, was Jonathan Quick. Making just 17 saves, he wasn’t busy but he did earn his 31st-career shutout, just one behind the franchise mark set by Rogie Vachon.
Overall, this was a fantastic night all-around for the Los Angeles Kings and their fans. But there will be little time to celebrate as the silver-and-black are right back to work on Thursday when they travel north to take on the San Jose Sharks.