Video: Avs’ playoff hopes fade as Kings inch closer to wild card

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Brayden McNabb had a career-high three-point night chasing Calvin Pickard in the L.A. Kings’ 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche Tuesday night.

McNabb’s second of the season at 14:15 of the first period stood to be the winner. The goal, which gave the Kings a 3-1 lead, ended Pickard’s night early.

The Avs’ rookie goaltender allowed three goals on the game’s first eight shots and was replaced by Reto Berra. Berra made 20 saves in relief.

With the win, the Kings (32-21-13) move to within one point of the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. L.A. also has a game in hand on Winnipeg. The Kings are now 3-0-1 in their last four.

L.A. is tied with Calgary (77 points) in the Pacific Division, but the Flames hold the tie break.

The loss drops the Avs (30-26-11) seven points back of a wild card spot.

Marian Gaborik and Jeff Carter had first period goals for the Kings. Kyle Clifford, who had a goal and an assist in the win, scored in the second. Jake Muzzin added his seventh of the season in the third.

Justin Williams had a pair of assists.

Tyson Barrie and Alex Tanguay had the Avs’ goals.

Jonathan Quick improved to 28-17-11 on the season with a 21 save performance.

Kings defeat Habs in shootout to tighten up West playoff race

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With less than a minute remaining in regulation, his team needing a win and down a goal, Marian Gaborik came through. And he did so again in the shootout, too.

Gaborik scored early in the period, and then the tying goal with 45 seconds remaining in the third period to send Thursday’s game between his L.A. Kings and the visiting Montreal Canadiens to overtime. In the shootout, Gaborik scored L.A.’s first goal and the Kings eventually prevailed over the Habs, with Dustin Tokarski in net, by a final score of 4-3.

After getting dominated through the opening 20 minutes — the Kings held a 13-2 advantage in shots on goal — the Habs got back into the game and took the lead in the third period.

That was before Gaborik’s heroics. Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar also scored in the shootout.

And that has only tightened up the playoff race in the Western Conference.

The Kings came back to win in a shootout.

The Minnesota Wild won in regulation.

The Calgary Flames won in a shootout.

The Vancouver Canucks lost in the shootout.

These are results that could eventually determine the post-season picture.

With a single point, the Canucks stayed second in the Pacific Division. But both the Flames and Kings are right on their heels, each sitting with 74 points, two back of Vancouver.

Each of those three teams have now played 64 games. Eventually, something has to give.

Not dealt at deadline, Beleskey still working on extension with Ducks

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Pending UFA and breakout scoring sensation Matt Beleskey is still an Anaheim Duck, having stayed put through yesterday’s trade deadline — despite serious interest form other teams.

To hear Beleskey’s agent explain it, staying put is a good thing. Anaheim is where Beleskey wants to be long-term, and now the two sides can keep negotiating a new deal.

“We continue to work through the process,” Beleskey’s agent, Murray Kuntz, told PHT via email on Tuesday. “Matt’s priority is to remain in Anaheim for many years to come.

“Hopefully we can make that happen.”

Beleskey is currently sidelined with a shoulder ailment, one of the few negatives in an otherwise stellar campaign. The 26-year-old has 21 goals this season — more than Sidney Crosby, Jeff Carter and Marian Hossa — which has added a bonafide offensive component to his gritty, hardworking game.

That, combined with his contractual status, made Beleskey a prized target on Monday.

ESPN reported several teams called Ducks GM Bob Murray about making a deal, and CSNNE suggested the Bruins were among the interested parties. Once Monday’s dust settled and Beleskey remained a Duck, Murray confirmed there were suitors looking to bring him aboard.

“You’re torn, but I felt that for this hockey team it was more important to keep Matt and take our chances in the future,” Murray said, per the L.A. Daily News. “We’ll see what happens in the summer.

“He’s an important part of our team. I got asked [by other GMs about trading Beleskey]. I just wasn’t going to do it.”

In light of this, it’ll be interesting to see what Beleskey’s next deal will look like. The Ducks clearly value him, but at what price? It’s also worth noting Murray has numerous key players needing new contracts both this offseason and the next, including a slew of RFAs (Emerson Etem and Jakov Silfverberg this summer; Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm, Kyle Palmieri, Rickard Rakell, Jiri Sekac and Simon Despres the one following.)

Ladd leads the Jets over the Kings

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Captain Andrew Ladd scored twice and Blake Wheeler added a goal and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets picked up an important two points in a 5-2 win over the L.A. Kings Sunday night.

Winnipeg now has a three-point cushion on the Minnesota Wild for the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. The Jets trail the Blackhawks by just three points for third spot in the Central Division.

“Ladd’s [past] three games have been spectacular,” Jets coach Paul Maurice said per NHL.com. “He really is driving that line [with Bryan Little and Michael Frolik]. There is a consistency to [Ladd’s] game and the way that he prepares, the way he practices and the way he plays that you have to have from your leader.”

The loss is the third straight for L.A. after an eight-game winning streak.

The Kings remain outside the playoff picture. L.A. is tied with Calgary (70 points) in the Pacific Division, but the Flames hold the tiebreaker. The Kings are three points back of the Wild for the final wild-card spot.

Drew Stafford and Tyler Myers had the other goals for Winnipeg. Michael Hutchinson made 18 saves for his 19th win of the season.

Jeff Carter had both Kings’ goals.

“We know what to expect coming in here,” said Carter. “We didn’t play near or close to what we should be playing to come close to getting two points. We need to get it going. We’re in a tight race, and every game for us right now is a playoff game, and we need to get our level up.”

Jonathan Quick allowed four goals on 21 shots and was replaced by Martin Jones to start the third period. Jones made seven saves in relief.

Midway through the third period the Jets acquired Lee Stempniak from the New York Rangers for Carl Klingberg.

‘There’s a shot’ Pearson (broken fibula) returns to Kings before playoffs

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The Kings made their big trade deadline splash yesterday, acquiring defenseman Andrej Sekera from Carolina, but that might not be L.A.’s lone enforcement for the playoffs.

Rookie scoring sensation Tanner Pearson — who still sits eighth among first-year players in goals (12) despite breaking his fibula in early January — could return to the Kings prior to the end of the regular season.

“It’s possible,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi said, per Mayors’ Manor. “We’ve seen that with a lot of these young kids. They get better fast. He’s been working really hard. That’s one thing about being young, they seem to heal quicker.

“Barring any complications, which I don’t foresee right now with the way he’s progressing, I think there’s a shot.”

Pearson, 22, suffered the injury in a game against the Jets and quickly underwent surgery. The initial timetable for return was three months, at which point head coach Darryl Sutter speculated Pearson wouldn’t be available until the opening round of the playoffs.

“Basically, after the injury, we just looked at it like he was done for the year,” Sutter said, per LA Kings Insider.

Getting Pearson back would be a huge boon for the Kings. He was a standout performer during last year’s Stanley Cup championship, scoring 12 points in 24 games as part of “That 70s Line” with Jeff Carter and fellow rookie Tyler Toffoli.