THE STORY: The status of Daniel Sedin remains the burning topic surrounding the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks as they begin their Western Conference quarterfinal series against the Los Angeles Kings. The 2011 Art Ross Trophy winner missed Vancouver’s last nine regular-season games with a concussion but joined the team for practice on Monday. However, Sedin skated with the Canucks’ extras and other injured players following Tuesday’s practice, leaving his status for Game One up in the air.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS, KCOP-13 (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE LA KINGS (40-27-15): Los Angeles also hopes to have one of its ailing stars ready for the series opener as Jeff Carter practiced with the club for the second straight day on Tuesday as he recovers from an ankle injury. “I feel like I’m getting better and I feel like I can contribute,” Carter said. The Kings will be without Brad Richardson, as the center underwent an emergency appendectomy Tuesday night and is out indefinitely. “We won’t have him for a while,” coach Darryl Sutter said. Andrei Loktionov was recalled from Manchester of the American Hockey League to replace Richardson on the roster. Los Angeles has the upper hand in goal as Jonathan Quick led the league with 10 shutouts, finished second with a 1.95 goals-against average and was fifth in both victories (35) and save percentage (.929).
ABOUT THE CANUCKS (51-22-9): Coach Alain Vigneault refused to tip his hand regarding Sedin’s availability for the series opener. “It’s a unique injury and he will continue the protocol, and when he’s ready to play, he’ll address (the media),” Vigneault said. Vancouver went 8-1-0 after Sedin went down with a concussion but was just 4 for 39 on the power play in his absence. Although Roberto Luongo will start Game One, the Canucks’ stronger goaltender this season was backup Cory Schneider, who was second in the league with a .937 save percentage and third with a 1.96 GAA. Rookie Zack Kassian is hoping to be in the lineup after missing the final two regular-season contests with an upper-body injury. “I’m going to talk to the trainers, and they have the final say,” he said.
1. The Kings have lost eight of their last 11 visits to Rogers Arena.
2. The teams split their four regular-season meetings and combined for a total of 15 goals, with half of Los Angeles’ eight tallies coming in one game.
3. Vancouver has won eight consecutive series openers overall and 10 straight at home.
SHARKS 3, KINGS 2 (OT): Dan Boyle scored twice, including the game winner 3:58 into overtime, as San Jose beat Los Angeles to set up a first-round playoff matchup with St. Louis.
With the extra session winding down, Boyle finished off an odd-man rush with a high backhander that beat Kings netminder Jonathan Quick as the Sharks completed a comeback from a two-goal third-period deficit. The thrilling victory moved San Jose into seventh place in the Western Conference, matching them up with the second-seeded Blues in the opening round.
The Kings wound up eighth in the conference and will face the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Vancouver Canucks in round one.
Justin Williams put the Kings on the board 11:09 into the opening period, connecting on a Los Angeles power play for his third goal in the back-to-back series against the Sharks.
San Jose lost sniper Joe Pavelski later in the period after he was hit in the face with the puck. He scurried off the ice but returned after being stitched up.
With the score still 1-0 late in the second period, the game took a chippy turn when the Kings’ Mike Richards was given a two-minute boarding minor after drilling Sharks forward Logan Couture into the boards. Richards provided more ire for Sharks fans less than 40 seconds after leaving the penalty box, banging home a rebound of a Williams shot with the Kings enjoying a man advantage.
Couture earned his revenge on the scoresheet, assisting on San Jose’s two third-period goals. Boyle cut into the lead 35 seconds into the frame, blasting a shot past Kings netminder Jonathan Quick.
Patrick Marleau brought the fans out of their seats less than eight minutes later, firing a shot that hit someone in front of the goal and eluded Quick for his 30th goal of the campaign. The Sharks veteran reached the 30-goal plateau for the fourth straight seasons.
San Jose had a golden opportunity to end the game late in regulation, but Pavelski rang a shot off the post.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Marleau’s milestone tally gave the Sharks three 30-goal scorers for the first time in franchise history. Couture and Pavelski share the team lead with 31 goals apiece. … Fifteen of Marleau’s goals have come in the third period. … San Jose failed to win the Pacific Division title for the first time in six seasons. The Phoenix Coyotes clinched their first division crown in franchise history with a 4-1 victory in Minnesota earlier Saturday. … Three of the eight West playoff teams come from the Pacific, with four more emerging from the Central and only one – division-champion Vancouver – based out of the Northwest.
THE STORY: The final game of the NHL‘s regular season will determine the complexion of the Western Conference postseason picture. The San Jose Sharks entertain Los Angeles on Saturday night in a contest that could see either team capture the Pacific Division title. The winning team will wind up with 96 points, which will be good enough for the division crown if the Phoenix Coyotes lose in Minnesota. The losing team is assured an eighth-place finish.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, NHL Network, KCOP
ABOUT THE KINGS (40-27-14): Los Angeles squandered a chance to gain the upper hand on their geographical rivals in the opener of their home-and-home series, dropping a controversial 6-5 shootout decision Thursday night. The Kings were incensed when Sharks forward Ryane Clowe interfered with the play while on the bench, poking his stick out to break up a play in the neutral zone. The officials didn’t see the play, and no penalty was called.
ABOUT THE SHARKS (42-29-10): Clowe’s bizarre move – one he claims he doesn’t remember doing – has overshadowed what has been a solid stretch of hockey for the 29-year-old Newfoundland native. Clowe had a down year – recording 20 fewer points than a season ago – but has scored four goals over his last six games while remaining as truculent as ever. San Jose is seeking a fifth straight division crown.
1. San Jose owns a 3-2 edge in the season series, with two of those wins coming in a shootout.
2. The Sharks have won 22 of their last 32 home encounters with the Kings.
3. The Kings’ last division championship came in 1990-91, when the club played in the Smythe Division.
THE STORY: After finishing a four-game road trip, the Los Angeles Kings can control their own destiny. By winning its final three games, Los Angeles will win the Pacific Division and earn the third seed in the Western Conference. The Kings will look to set the plan in motion on Monday when they host the Edmonton Oilers.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, RS West (Oilers), FS Prime Ticket (Kings)
ABOUT THE OILERS (32-38-9): Edmonton continues to collect points away from home. Teemu Hartikainen scored his first two goals of the season as the Oilers improved to 5-0-2 in their last seven road matches with a 2-1 victory over Anaheim on Sunday. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins notched an assist for his 51st point, tying him with Colorado’s Gabriel Landeskog for the rookie scoring lead. The top overall pick of the 2011 draft, Nugent-Hopkins also had an assist in Friday’s 4-1 loss to Los Angeles. Devan Dubnyk, who has won four of his last five starts, turned aside 20 shots in a 2-1 win over the Kings on Jan. 15.
ABOUT THE KINGS (39-27-13): Brad Richardson is filling in admirably for Jeff Carter, who is nursing an ankle injury. Richardson tallied twice and captain Dustin Brown also scored in Los Angeles’ 4-3 shootout loss to Minnesota on Saturday. Anze Kopitar, who has collected 21 points in his last 17 games, recorded a goal and an assist on Friday. All-Star Jonathan Quick sat out versus Minnesota, but turned aside 13 of 14 shots Friday to improve to 6-1-3 in his career versus Edmonton.
1. Although its record leaves a bit to be desired, Edmonton has given Los Angeles a tough go of it this season. The Oilers have won two of the three meetings.
2. The Kings won’t have to leave the Golden State in their final three games. After hosting Edmonton, Los Angeles will tangle with San Jose in a home-and-home series.
With 5 games remaining in the regular season for the Los Angeles Kings, the playoff race is as tight as ever and every point is incredibly valuable. Right now the race in the Pacific division for the division crown is between 4 different teams. The Dallas Stars with 89 points, the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks with 88 points, and the Phoenix Coyotes with 87 points. Currently it appears 3 of these 4 teams will make the playoffs with 1 of them earning the 3 seed and home ice advantage in the first round thanks to winning the division.
The Kings have a very favorable schedule in the home stretch as they face cellar dwellers Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, and Edmonton again before taking on the Sharks in their final 2 games of the season. The Sharks will finish off the season playing only division rivals as they will face the Phoenix Coyotes once and Dallas Stars and Los Angeles Kings twice which should help create some parity in points in the division. The Dallas Stars have a very tough schedule as they will face division leaders Vancouver and St. Louis before the season ends and Phoenix also has to face the St. Louis Blues once before the season ends. The Kings definitely do have the schedule on their side to close out the season and should be able to make it into the playoffs. The question is will it be as a 3, 7, or 8 seed. If the Kings miss out on the playoffs however, they will nobody to blame but themselves.
THE STORY: Two division leaders square off Saturday as the Los Angeles Kings host the Boston Bruins. Los Angeles, which is atop the Pacific by the narrowest of margins, has won six games in a row both overall and at home. The Kings had won five straight against the Boston Bruins until dropping a 3-0 decision in Boston on Dec. 13. The Bruins, who own a three-point lead over Ottawa Senators in the Northeast, have been outscored 19-6 in losing four straight on the road.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, NESN (Boston), FSN West (Los Angeles)
ABOUT THE BRUINS (42-28-3): Boston has earned at least one point in six of its last seven meetings (2-1-4) with Los Angeles. The club, which has lost five of seven overall, is 0-1-0 on its three-game California road trip. Captain Zdeno Chara will be playing in his 1,000th career game. He’ll become the 277th player – and 91st defenseman – to reach the milestone. “I’ve thought about it a little bit lately,” Chara said. “But I’m trying not to think about it too much because this is an important game for us.”
ABOUT THE KINGS (37-25-12): Los Angeles is 3-0-0 on its four-game homestand. The team is 10-3-0 since the addition of Jeff Carter, who has six goals and nine points with the Kings. Others benefiting from his presence are Anze Kopitar and captain Dustin Brown. Kopitar has recorded a point is 10 of 12 contests while Brown has gotten on the scoresheet in 11 of 13. Justin Williams is impressed with Kopitar’s recent play. “He’s showing that he wants it,” Williams said. “He’s carrying us and getting us to where we want to be.”
1. The Bruins have lost 15 of their last 21 games against teams from the Pacific.
2. Boston is one of two teams (Washington) with a perfect record when leading after two periods (28-0-0).
KINGS Vs PREDATORS 4,2: Dustin Penner scored to snap a tie just over eight minutes into the third period and Jonathan Bernier turned aside 19 shots as Los Angeles won its fourth straight and seventh in nine outings.
Anze Kopitar netted his sixth goal in nine contests and Dwight King and Kyle Clifford also tallied for the Kings, who moved past idle Phoenix into an eighth-place tie with San Jose in the Western Conference standings.
Martin Erat scored for the fourth time in six contests and Mike Fisher also tallied for the Predators, who fell to 1-1-1 on their four-game road trip and dropped two points behind fourth-place the Detroit Red Wings.
With the game tied at 1-1, Trevor Lewis fed Penner on a 2-on-1 rush and the latter beat Pekka Rinne for his sixth goal.
King scored on a breakaway nearly five minutes later and Clifford added insurance with his fifth.
Kopitar opened the scoring 7:53 into the first period. Kopitar collected a loose puck and blasted a shot from the right faceoff circle past Rinne for his 23rd goal.
Erat leveled the contest with 6:17 remaining in the second period after his blast from the right faceoff circle beat a screened Bernier. The tally was Erat’s 18th.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Bernier improved to 6-1-0 versus the Predators in his career. … Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown saw his career-high 10-game point streak come to an end. … Nashville defenseman Kevin Klein returned to the ice after an eight-game absence with an upper body injury. He assisted on Fisher’s third-period goal.
That was … awesome. Rita Wilson looked like she’s waited her entire life to be featured on the Kiss-Cam, and Tom Hanks jumped to the call of duty like he was saving Private Ryan all over again. When you’re on the Kiss-Cam, it’s that thing you do. What a Ladykiller. OK, that’s the punchline.
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KINGS Vs DUCKS 4, 2: Jeff Carter scored twice in his home debut and Jonathan Quick made 29 saves as Los Angeles moved to within one point of a playoff spot and damaged the Anaheim Ducks postseason chances.
Carter, who was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets prior to the trade deadline, broke a 1-1 tie when he roofed a rebound early in the second and wired a wrist shot past Jonas Hiller later in the period to make it 3-1.
Captain Dustin Brown scored in the first period, Mike Richards notched three assists and Anze Kopitar added an empty-netter for Los Angeles, which has won three of its last four games.
Rookie Devante Smith-Pelly and defenseman Sheldon Brookbank scored for the Ducks, who remain seven points out of eighth place with 16 games to play.
Smith-Pelly beat Quick with a low wrist shot to the stick side 13 seconds after Carter’s second tally.
Brown collected the puck near Hiller’s pad after a shot by Alec Martinez and patiently found room inside the right post at 12:15 for his sixth goal in the last six games.
Brookbank tied it 3:27 later when his shot from the point fluttered through traffic and over Quick’s right shoulder.
Hiller stopped Brown’s shorthanded breakaway early in the first period.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Brookbank has three goals in 261 career games, two in the last nine. … The Los Angeles Kings have won four of the first five meetings this season. … Hiller made 16 saves and increased his franchise record with his 25th straight start. He is 15-6-4 during that span. … Los Angeles improved to 80-0-6 in its last 86 games when leading after two periods. … The Kings are 19-0-2 this season when scoring three or more goals.