LA Kings Shutout Coyotes 4-0 To Clinch Playoff Spot
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar scored power-play goals, Jonathan Quick made 17 saves in his sixth shutout of the season, and the Los Angeles Kings clinched a playoff spot with a 4-0 victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Wednesday night.
Kopitar, Jeff Carter and rookie Tanner Pearson each had a goal and an assist for the surging Kings, who have all but locked up third place in the Pacific Division and a first-round postseason matchup with California rivals San Jose or Anaheim.
Thomas Greiss stopped 28 shots for the Coyotes, whose playoff hopes have been hurt by three straight losses.
Phoenix and Dallas are even in eighth place in the Western Conference with 85 points apiece, but the Stars have seven games still to play — two more than the Coyotes.
Phoenix hadn’t been shut out since a 2-0 loss to Columbus on Jan. 2, but the Coyotes managed few good chances against Quick and the Kings’ formidable defense.
Quick’s shutout was the 31st of his career, leaving him one shy of tying Rogie Vachon’s franchise record. Quick, whose six shutouts are second-most in the NHL behind Boston’s Tuukka Rask, passed Vachon to become the winningest goalie in Kings history last month.
Pearson scored his third career goal and Alec Martinez had two assists for the Kings, who had lost three straight to Phoenix.
Los Angeles has been outstanding since the Olympic break, winning 14 of 18 on the way to its fifth consecutive playoff berth. The Kings have won seven of eight over the past two weeks, solidifying their postseason plans after a prolonged skid before the break.
Los Angeles took the lead just 1:20 after the opening faceoff when Jeff Carter feathered a beautiful cross-ice pass to Pearson, who dropped to one knee to take the shot. Pearson, the Kings’ first-round pick in 2012, has earned a regular lineup spot after just 22 games in his rookie season.
Doughty scored early in the second period, putting a shot behind Carter’s moving screen. The two-time, gold medal-winning defenseman played an outstanding two-way game, passing and shooting with the formidable skill showcased while playing for Canada in Sochi.
Carter scored on an end-to-end rush midway through the third period, forcing a turnover and blowing a shot past Greiss. Kopitar scored his 25th goal of the season 40 seconds later on a vicious one-timer, giving the Slovenian center six 25-goal seasons in his career.
Los Angeles (45-26-6) needs one more victory to match the franchise record of 46, done three times previously. The Kings, who have won eight straight road games, visit the Shark Tank on Thursday night to open a four-game trip.
NOTES: C Martin Hanzal went to the Phoenix dressing room for several minutes in the first period after getting hurt by an elbow from Jordan Nolan, who received a minor penalty. … Martinez has 14 points in his last 16 games. … Greiss made his fifth straight start in place of Mike Smith, who has an injured right knee.