Hockey
Kings Clinch Playoffs, Shutout Phoenix
By Rudy Martinez
Apr 3, 2014 - 12:35:25 PM

LOS ANGELES—For the fifth consecutive year, the Kings make a run for the cup. A huge turnaround from Monday’s disappointing break on their winning streak ended with the Kings scoring four unanswered to blank the Phoenix Coyotes at Staples Center Wednesday night. Los Angeles’ first and third lines scored to give the Kings a third seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

 

With the time coming to clinch a spot for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Kings knew getting ahead early was their first priority. It was helped by Jeff Carter who made a rush near the boards with Tanner Pearson to put the rookie out front near the crease and score his third of the season against Coyotes netminder Thomas Greiss. The third year Kings center was on a roll bringing the puck into the Phoenix end where a breakaway nearly made it 2-0 on a shot from Jarret Stoll, but was saved by the glove of Greiss. The Coyotes found time to attack the Kings net while shorthanded nearly breaking even midway into the period. In the end, Kings goal tender Jonathan Quick settled five shots in the period, but allowed none to slip behind him.

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The team celebrates on the ice after clinching the playoffs in a 4-0 rout of Phoenix.

 

Los Angeles gained further ground on their Pacific Division rivals on a power play during the first minute of the second period. Before it came to a close, Drew Doughty fired a shot from the left faceoff circle to put the Kings up 2 goals and give him 10 on the year. The Coyotes came back into the game showing some composure, but still found trouble handling the LA offense. Anze Kopitar blasted into the game with a shot that hit the bottom of the crossbar but didn’t make its way into the net.

 

His attempts would further go unanswered as he, Martinez, and Gaborik were later denied by Greiss during their third time on the man advantage. Before the period came to an end, Carter took one more attempt at a breakaway in the final seconds; he took a shot that was swallowed by the glove of Greiss to keep the margin small. Los Angeles tallied 15 shots through the period showing that tonight would be the night they would close the door on teams battling for the wild card.

 

The Coyotes were 7-16-6 when trailing by two periods indicating an uphill battle by the visiting team to ruin the Kings chances at playoff contention. They went into a downhill spiral as Carter finally made his way to the scoreboard going on a 2 on 1 with Tyler Toffoli, on the other end where Carter took the shot straight on the high slot of the Coyotes netminder to notch his 27th. The lucky break helped out Los Angeles further as they scored eight seconds into their fourth power play with Kopitar receiving a pass from Marian Gaborik to give him 25 goals.

 

He later went for a second goal, but Greiss had enough of allowing anymore goals with the margin grown to four. The Kings continued to outplay them for the remainder of regulation giving the Kings their fifth consecutive ticket to the playoffs. The victory also gave Quick another moment to bask in glory as he made 17 saves against Phoenix in his 27th win. He now sat one away from being atop Kings goal tenders with the most career shutouts with his sixth this year alone.

 

Quick might not see any further action with just five games left to play as the former Conn Smythe winner knows how important rest is. The team as a whole will hit the road for a final stint facing the Sharks who are in a fight for first place over the Ducks. The Kings may try to make that a reality dream for fans in Southern California to face their cross town rivals in the first round. 



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