The Los Angeles Kings qualified for their fourth consecutive playoff berth Saturday night when the Vancouver Canucks defeated the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 in a shootout at Rogers Arena.
The Kings (55 points; 23 regulation wins) will now turn their attention to locking up home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, a feat they have not accomplished since 1992. The team’s last 15 playoff series have opened away from Los Angeles.
Nipping at the Kings’ heels are the San Jose Sharks (55 points; 16 regulation wins), the St. Louis Blues (54 points; 21 regulation wins) and the Minnesota Wild (51 points; 20 regulation wins). Los Angeles owns the tiebreaker over San Jose due to the superior number of regulation wins.
There are major implications in each of Los Angeles’ four remaining games, and not only surrounding the team’s quest for home ice advantage. They’ll face a handful of desperate bubble teams: 10th-place Dallas (47 points; 20 regulation wins) visits on Sunday before L.A. travels to seventh-place Minnesota on Tuesday and ninth-place Detroit (48 points; 18 regulation wins) on Wednesday. How the Kings fare in those three games will have a profound impact on whether eighth-place Columbus (49 points; 16 regulation wins; three games remaining) will make the playoffs for the second time in club history. With the exception of the Blue Jackets, all teams listed above have four games remaining.
The Kings will return to Staples Center to finish the regular season against San Jose next Saturday.
If Los Angeles earns one point against Dallas tomorrow, they will clinch at least the seventh seed. If Los Angeles wins in regulation tomorrow and Minnesota loses in regulation at home to Calgary, the Kings would clinch at least the sixth seed.
Playoff tickets are scheduled to go on sale on Friday, April 26.
Earlier in the evening, the Manchester Monarchs defeated the Wilkes Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh) 3-1 behind third-period goals from David Kolomatis, Andy Andreoff and Tanner Pearson. Tyler Toffoli assisted on Kolomatis’ goal, which put Manchester ahead 1-0 31 seconds into the final frame. The Monarchs’ sixth consecutive win clinched seventh place in the Eastern Conference; the Kings’ top affiliate will face either Springfield (Columbus) or Syracuse (Tampa Bay) in the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs.
The Ontario Reign, Los Angeles’ ECHL-affiliate, defeated the Idaho Steelheads 5-0 to even its second round Kelly Cup playoff series at one. Games three, four and five will take place in Boise. Should Game 6 be necessary, it would take place on Tuesday, April 30. A potential Game 7 would follow on Wednesday, May 1.