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.
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.
Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog opened the scoring with his 14th of the season at 3:09 of the first period; however, it was all L.A. after that.
Jeff Carter tied it 1-1 at 1:16 of the second and Tyler Toffoli scored the eventual game winner at 6:24 of the middle frame as the L.A. Kings defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 Wednesday night.
Drew Doughty had a pair of assists in the win.
“With the way the schedule is and the way the season is and the importance of every game, you need something out of everybody,” said Kings’ coach Darryl Sutter. “It’s really hard to play guys who have only got five or six goals. We need more out of [them]. If they’re going to play teen-minutes as forwards, you have to get more out of them, and what you’re seeing is some balance out of our forward group.”
L.A. has now won six straight while out-scoring opponents 23-12 during the win streak. The Kings now have the same point total as the San Jose Sharks (66) for the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.
Jonathan Quick made 42 saves in the win including 18 in the second period.
Semyon Varlamov stopped 21 shots in the loss.
“I can’t complain,” said Avs coach Patrick Roy. “I understand it’s frustrating because that was a big game for us. At the same time, I’m very happy with the effort. I’m very happy with how we competed. I’m very happy with how hard we worked, back checked [and] our fore-check was there.
“We got a lot of shots [and] we had a lot of traffic in front of the net. I thought we did a lot of good things. Nothing to show for it tonight, but I think this is how we have to play.”
Carter added his second of the night into an empty net. Dustin Brown had the other Kings’ goal.
Tonight marked the first of three games between the two clubs. They’ll meet again on March 10 in Denver.