The Los Angeles Kings are playoff-bound for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
The Kings (43-27-10, 96 points) punched their postseason ticket Tuesday night when Dallas defeated Vegas in a seven-round shootout. With that, Los Angeles was assured of finishing in third place in the Pacific Division.
The Kings, who will meet Edmonton in the opening round of the Western Conference playoffs, still have two regular-season games remaining, starting with Wednesday’s contest in Seattle.
“You work so hard all year to get to the point that we’re in, you give everything for six, seven months and to be on the cusp of what you first strived out for at the beginning of the year is to just get in,” Kings forward Blake Lizotte said after Monday’s practice. “Yeah, I think it’s really exciting to have that come to fruition, that we do have a reality to make the playoffs.”
That reality set in Tuesday night.
Coach Todd McLellan has stressed to the Kings players that they should “worry about your own work.”
“When we look back on the season, and we’ll do that when it’s over, we’ll evaluate from Day 1 through, we’ll look at practices, evolution, ups, downs, strengths, weaknesses,” McLellan said. “Right now, we’re not really doing that, we’re living in the moment and trying to better what we have. I think there’s a difference between the two.”
The Kings, who have won four consecutive games, have had three days off since a 4-2 victory against visiting Anaheim on Saturday.
That allowed the Kings a rare stretch of practice time.
“We’re sharpening up our whole game, the way the schedule has been rolled out for us, we haven’t had many opportunities to practice like that, maybe once in the last three weeks,” McLellan said. “Good or bad, I don’t know, we’ll find out. Our three-day break comes with two games left, a lot of teams had it last week or the week before, so we have to take advantage of that.”
The expansion Kraken (26-47-6, 58 points) played Tuesday night in Vancouver, suffering a 5-2 defeat — their third in a row.
The Canucks, who were still in playoff contention when the game started, bolted to a 3-0 lead in the opening 15:05, outshooting Seattle 12-1 in the process.
“It was very uncharacteristic of us,” said Kraken forward Jared McCann, whose team had taken 2-0 leads in each of the previous two games. “Obviously, they’re a good team and we’ve been playing pretty well as of late. We’re just going to try to move past this one.”
Seattle had chances, but it scored just went 1-for-8 on the power play.
The Kraken, who had been outscored 8-0 in the second period of the previous two defeats, pulled within 3-2 going into the third before allowing two late goals.
“After the start that we had, sometimes you wonder if we can get going — get the legs going — but we did,” Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said. “And by far, we had enough chances to get back even.”
Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn missed Tuesday’s game with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day.
–Field Level Media