The LA Kings clinched a playoff spot and pushed back to .500 on their four-game road trip with a 4-1 victory over Vancouver on Sunday evening at Rogers Arena.
The Kings got two goals from forward Alex Iafallo to go along with multi-point nights from Arthur Kaliyev (1-1-2), Blake Lizotte (1-1-2) and Anze Kopitar (0-2-2). Joonas Korpisalo made 24 saves on 25 shots to secure the victory, as the Kings leveled their trip record at 2-2-0.
Vancouver opened the scoring through who else but Brock Boeser, just under six minutes into the game, to take a 1-0 advantage. After Korpisalo made the first save on J.T. Miller from the left-hand circle, Boeser was first to the rebound just outside the crease to bury his 14th goal from his last 14 gaames played against the Kings.
LA pulled level again late in the opening frame to take the game into the first intermission tied at one. Skating 4-on-4, the Kings opted for three forwards on the ice and all three combined on the goal, from Adrian Kempe to Kopitar to Iafallo, who buried the one-timer at the back post to equalize on the evening.
Iafallo made it 2-1 early in the second period with this second goal of the evening. With the Kings on the man advantage, Iafallo worked his way to the crease and buried off of Viktor Arvidsson’s centering attempt, as the visitors pulled ahead 2-1. Iafallo made it back-to-back multi-point nights with his 14th goal of the season.
The Kings added an insurance marker midway through the third period through Kaliyev. Off the rush, Kaliyev’s first attempt was blocked by a defenseman but he stayed with the play, got to his own rebound and whacked the shot past Vancouver netminder Thatcher Demko for a two-goal lead.
Lizotte added an empty-net goal late in the third to clinch the game – and the postseason – with a 4-1 final.
Hear from Kopitar, Iafallo and Head Coach Todd McLellan following tonight’s win over Vancouver.
On the feeling of clinching a playoff berth for the second straight season
It’s huge, that’s what we’ve worked for all year and I’m glad we could do it tonight and look forward to that. We got a few games left so we’ve got to keep keep going strong and move towards the playoffs.
On the team’s defensive play tonight after weathering an early storm
Everybody sacrificed and I feel like it all started with Korpi, he made some huge saves obviously. A lot of guys had good sticks and good blocks, I think it was just a good team effort.
On being a versatile player who can contribute in all situations
Yeah, just trying to flip the switch, whether it’s penalty kill or power play, just trying to do as best as I can. They do a great job with video and stuff for us, each team is different, so you’ve got to pay attention to who’s doing what.
On the team’s penalty-killing efforts in tonight’s win
Yeah, it was really good. Really good effort by everybody, especially the d-men They were able to handle the forecheck, guys coming down and Korpi made a bunch of big saves on their power plays. It was just a big, big team effort tonight.
On the feeling of clinching a playoff berth
I don’t want to say it’s a relief, because we’ve sensed that it’s been coming, but once you get that asterisk by your name you can you can breathe a little bit. That’s a hell of an accomplishment for our group.
On a full-team win over the Canucks tonight
I thought tonight was a tough night for us to play, we’ve had a lot of heavy games on this trip and to play back-to-back, short turnaround, it was a complete team win tonight. Sometimes you win because two or three players are stars, I thought tonight 20 of us played extremely well. We got our legs underneath us after the first 10 minutes and then we were pretty solid after that.
On Alex Iafallo’s versatility and value to the team as a whole
Yeah, he’s a very valuable player for us. Very trusting, a guy that you can put anywhere in the lineup, on any line. He cleans up a lot of messes and mistakes that are made, he anticipates well defensively and he can obviously put it in the net when he gets a chance.
On the team’s connectivity at the defensive end of the rink tonight
A lot of times coaches talk about being connected offensively and breaking out, we were connected defensively. We did a good job of reading off each other, our gaps were pretty good and there wasn’t a lot of lazy or late arriving people. They were committed to getting there on time when they could. It didn’t mean we were perfect but when they could, they did their jobs.
On Arthur Kaliyev moving up in the lineup and getting rewarded with a goal
Yeah, very much so. He;s dangerous when the puck’s on his tape in the offensive zone and he showed why again today. Shoot and follow and he put another one in. He’s the one guy in our lineup that can do that often and got rewarded.
Additionally, McLellan had the following regarding defenseman Alex Edler, who left the game late in the first period with an upper-body injury – “I don’t have one right now, obviously he couldn’t finish the night, so that wasn’t good.”
– Alex Iafallo (2-0-2) posted his seventh career multi-goal game, for his second multi-point outing in as many games (0-2-2 on Apr. 1 at SEA). Iafallo now has seven points over his last seven games (4-3-7).
– Blake Lizotte (1-1-2) recorded his fifth multi-point performance of the season.
– Arthur Kaliyev (1-1-2) tallied his 26th and 27th points on the year (12-15-27), tying his single season career high set last season (14-13-27).
– Anze Kopitar (0-2=2) registered his 20th multi-point game of the season, marking the 281st of his career to tie Dave Taylor for the fourth-most multi-point games in franchise history. Kopitar has now recorded at least 20 multi-point games in four of his 17 NHL seasons (24GP in 2017-18; 20GP in 2010-11; 20GP in 2007-08). With his two assists, Kopitar (391-744-1,135) surpassed Marian Hossa (525-609-1,134) for sole possession of 59th place on the NHL’s all-time scoring list.
– Viktor Arvidsson, Vladislav Gavrikov and Adrian Kempe all collected helpers in the win. Arvidsson’s assist marked his 30th of the campaign for his third 30-assist season of his career.
– Joonas Korpisalo stopped 24-of-25 shots for his fifth win as an LA King (5-2-1) and improved to 16-13-4 on the season.
– Todd McLellan won his 139th career game behind the Kings bench, tying Terry Murray for the fourth-most wins by a Kings head coach in franchise history.
– With tonight’s victory, the Kings clinched a Stanley Cup Playoffs berth for the second consecutive season and 32nd time in franchise history. LA is third team in the Western Conference and ninth in the league to secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.
– The Kings improved their record to 45-22-10, reaching the 100-point mark for the sixth time in franchise history. Doing so in 77 games, this year’s Kings are the second-fastest team in franchise history to reach the 100-point plateau, trailing only the 1974-75 team (76 games).
The Kings have a scheduled team off day tomorrow and will return to action on Tuesday for a morning skate at 10:30 AM, in advance of that evening’s game versus Edmonton.