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Plagued by scoring issues, Kings eliminated from playoff contention after loss to Coyotes

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All season long, the L.A. Kings have had difficulty scoring goals. It’s an issue that came back to haunt them once again.

The Kings, 26th in league scoring, lost 2-1 to the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday — a loss that eliminates L.A. from playoff contention and secures a place in the Stanley Cup tournament for the Nashville Predators, who hold the last wild card spot in the West.

The problem wasn’t a lack of chances for the Kings.

They had 35 shots on goal, with Mike Smith turning all but one aside and you couldn’t really blame the Arizona netminder for L.A.’s only goal, credited to Alec Martinez on one of the strangest plays of the season.

But tonight’s game was a microcosm of the entire season for the Kings.

They held a wide margin in shots on goal. But they also couldn’t find a goal when they needed it the most. They are now fifth in the league in shots-on-goal per game, while allowing the fewest shots against in the entire league.

The only thing missing has been the finish.

Coming down the stretch, the Kings scored 20 goals over an 11-game span. Twice in those 11 games, they were shut out and three times they were held to just a single goal.

Kings general manager Dean Lombardi made a massive trade prior to the deadline, acquiring Ben Bishop from Tampa Bay because there were concerns about Jonathan Quick after he missed most of the season with a groin injury.

While the Kings made a move designed to bolster their goaltending by adding a player on an expiring contract, their only move to perhaps help the offense was acquiring 39-year-old Jarome Iginla from Colorado. Iginla has been decent with six goals and eight points in 15 games since the trade, but L.A.’s overall offense really hadn’t ignited like it needed to.

And for the second time in three years, they won’t make the playoffs.

With frustration growing, Wild get back in the win column

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) Erik Haula had a goal and assist, Devan Dubnyk stopped 30 shots and the Minnesota Wild beat the Colorado Avalanche 5-2 Sunday.

Martin Hanzal, Jared Spurgeon, Zach Parise and Jordan Schroeder also scored for Minnesota, which recovered from a tough 3-0 loss at Nashville a day earlier with a resounding win against the NHL’s worst team.

The Wild remained seven points ahead of St. Louis for second place in the Central Division and closed to within seven points of first-place Chicago.

Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen scored for Colorado, which has lost eight of nine overall and 10 in a row on the road. The Avalanche have a league-low 45 points this season.

Related: Wild need a win, but Boudreau cautions: ‘If we’re not ready to play, we’re in trouble’

Calvin Pickard started in goal for Colorado but was pulled after allowing four goals on 16 shots. Jeremy Smith made 11 saves in relief.

The Wild were slowly pulling themselves out from a March swoon that all but locked them into second place in the division after leading the Central much of the season. Minnesota had points in three straight games and beat Ottawa in its last home game.

Then a disappointing shutout at Nashville had coach Bruce Boudreau a bit short-tempered prior to Sunday’s game.

Hanzal had his third goal in 17 games with Minnesota to open the scoring five minutes into the game and Spurgeon scored his 10th of the season 23 seconds later.

The Wild have 13 players with at least 10 goals, tied for the most of any team in the NHL.

Rantanen scored his team-leading 18th goal of the year, his fourth goal in six games, while Landeskog scored for the first time in 13 games.

DeBoer hopeful Joe Thornton is ‘only out short-term here’ after injury vs. Canucks

San Jose Sharks head coach Pete DeBoer didn’t have an update on the status of Joe Thornton following Sunday’s win over the Vancouver Canucks.

Thornton was injured on a collision with Michael Chaput in the first period and didn’t return. The way he exited the ice — hobbling to the bench favoring his left knee and then struggling down the tunnel to the dressing room — was particularly concerning.

At the age of 37, Thornton had been enjoying a 50-point season with the Sharks, who are once again in the race for top spot in the Pacific Division, having already clinched a playoff berth.

“You can’t roll over and just quit,” said DeBoer.

“It’s a great challenge for us. Hopefully he’s only out short-term here. I think we’re confident as a group that we’re a team that’s a sum of our parts, not about one or two guys anyway. I think if anyone can handle it, we can.”

DeBoer said Thornton will be reassessed Monday.

The Sharks also played this game without Logan Couture, who suffered a gruesome injury after being hit in the face with a puck versus Nashville last weekend. (The latest update on Couture from a few days ago was a report that he can speak and eat.)

The win puts the Sharks, at least temporarily, within two points of Anaheim and Edmonton for first in the Pacific.

Flyers eliminated from playoff contention after loss to Rangers

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The Philadelphia Flyers saw their four-game winning streak come to an end Sunday. They also had their playoff hopes officially dashed.

Clinging to the slimmest of chances — seven points out of a wild card spot with four games remaining — entering Sunday’s contest with the New York Rangers, the Flyers made things interesting late with a pair of goals from Brayden Schenn and Valtteri Filppula, but couldn’t complete a miraculous season-saving comeback.

The end result? A 4-3 loss that eliminates Philly from playoff contention.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist provided the final dagger, flashing the glove to make a spectacular save on Claude Giroux.

It’s been an eventful — not to mention frightening at the time — 24 hours for the Flyers. AHL call-up Anthony Stolarz once again got the start, with Steve Mason as the back-up but still recovering from illness and Michal Neuvirth having just been released from hospital after a scary incident Saturday.

Stolarz made 20 saves in the loss. Kris Kreider, with his 28th goal of the season, scored the eventual winner.

Lightning close gap in wild card race after crushing the Stars

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Sellers at the deadline and without star Steven Stamkos in the lineup, the Tampa Bay Lightning refuse to go away in the Eastern Conference playoff race.

Time may eventually run out on the Bolts, but they’ve added plenty of intrigue to the race for the final wild card spot. On Sunday, they came roaring back with four goals in the third period for a 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars.

That’s a crucial result after Saturday’s overtime loss to Montreal.

With the Ottawa Senators in a funk and dealing with numerous injuries to key players on defense, and with the Bolts finding ways to win, Tampa Bay has moved to within three points of the wild card.

The Bolts have four games remaining on their schedule.

The Senators also have a game in hand.

“It just comes down to our season and that’s it,” coach Jon Cooper told reporters. “That was the discussion in the room — ‘Do you want to give yourself a chance to play past next Sunday?’ If you don’t, then play the way we did in the second. If you do, play the way we did in the third.”

The Lightning fell behind by a goal in the second period but tied it with only 18 seconds remaining in the middle frame on a goal from Braydon Coburn. Adam Erne had a pair of goals and Ondrej Palat had three points in the win.

The Bolts play the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, however they may be dealing with yet another injury. Jason Garrison left Sunday’s game late in the second period and didn’t play another shift.