LA Kings take a big early lead and beat Calgary 4-1 to clinch their 3rd straight playoff berth

Fri, Apr 12, 2024
NHL News (AP)

LA Kings take a big early lead and beat Calgary 4-1 to clinch their 3rd straight playoff berth

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Viktor Arvidsson scored two goals and the Los Angeles Kings clinched a playoff berth with a 4-1 victory over the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.

Kevin Fiala and Akil Thomas also scored in a workmanlike win for the Kings, who will be in the postseason for the third consecutive spring. Los Angeles lost to Edmonton in the first round in both of the previous trips, and a third straight matchup is possible with the Kings currently sitting third in the Pacific Division behind the second-place Oilers.

"(Making the playoffs) was our goal starting training camp, so one step at a time, and I think we did a good job in the regular season to get to this point," Arvidsson said. ""I don't think seeding matters in the playoffs, if I'm honest. I came in (with) Nashville. We were the last team in, the last game of the season, and we went to the (Stanley Cup) finals. I don't think it matters. It depends on the group and how you tackle the games moving forward."

Cam Talbot made 23 saves and captain Anze Kopitar had two assists as the Kings opened a four-game homestand to end the regular season under interim coach Jim Hiller. Los Angeles missed the chance to clinch by losing at Anaheim on Tuesday, but quickly got back into form by beating Calgary for its fourth win in five games.

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"I think everybody should be proud of that," Hiller said about the Kings' playoff berth. "It's a hard thing to do. And more importantly, it's exciting because now you get to take the next step. You've earned the right to take the next step."

Kopitar echoed Arvidsson's thoughts about playoff seeding, saying it's not as important as hitting the playoffs in a rhythm. In 2012, Kopitar and the Kings famously went 16-4 in the postseason and became the first No. 8 seed to win the Stanley Cup.

"Obviously it wasn't an easy game (against Calgary), and with the game we showed in Anaheim, we weren't very pleased," Kopitar said. "So tonight was kind of a redemption. I thought for the most part, we did a pretty good job and essentially got the job done."

Jonathan Huberdeau scored in the third period for the Flames, who have lost nine of 11 as they wrap up a non-playoff season.

Jacob Markstrom stopped 26 shots for the Flames, who beat Los Angeles in Calgary on March 30.

"I don't think we were quite ready for them tonight," defenseman Daniil Miromanov said. "They came out hard and they were on top of us, really. We weren't efficient on our transition game and breakouts. They were on top of our sticks and bodies, and also I feel like we were turning over the puck in the gray zones a lot."

After Miromanov committed an early penalty by moving the puck with his hand after losing his stick, the Kings scored 26 seconds into the ensuing power play when Fiala wired a wrist shot through traffic for his 28th goal. The Swiss forward's 11th power-play goal was also his 30th point on power plays this season, making him the first Los Angeles player to hit that mark since 2010.

Arvidsson doubled the lead early in the second period, snapping a sharp-angled shot past Markstrom for the third goal of his injury-shortened season. The veteran forward has played in only 15 games, sitting out until mid-February while recovering from back surgery and then missing another month with a lower-body injury.

Thomas scored seven minutes later, expertly batting down a slap shot from the point by Matt Roy and bouncing it past Markstrom for his third goal in the past four games and the first home goal of his career.

Thomas spent most of this season in the AHL, but the Kings' second-round pick from 2018 has made an immediate impact since his NHL debut 10 days ago, perhaps even playing his way into a postseason role. Thomas is the first Kings skater to score three goals within his first five NHL games since Brian Boyle did it in 2008.

Arvidsson added an empty-net goal with 3:14 to play, earning his first multi-goal game since March 26, 2023.

"I don't think we were competitive enough in the first two periods," Calgary coach Ryan Huska said. "Third period, I thought we started to skate a little bit. We had more zone time than we had the first two periods. But I think a lot of it came down to the competitive side, and not clean or crisp with the puck."

UP NEXT

Flames: At Anaheim on Friday.

Kings: Host Anaheim on Saturday.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL

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