Teams often talk about the need to play the full 60 minutes. If the Kings miss the playoffs though, it won’t be because of something they lacked in the first 60 minutes of contests. As has too often been the case in 2014-15, Los Angeles missed out on the second point in a 2-1 shootout loss to Vancouver.
Goaltenders Jonathan Quick and Eddie Lack were the two best players on the ice tonight with 37 and 36 saves in regulation respectively. However, this game might be most memorable for Canucks forward Henrik Sedin, who became the 52nd player to ever reach the 700-assist mark.
That ended the narrow lead Los Angeles had maintained since 1:13 of the first period. Vancouver’s Chris Higgins was the only player on either side to score in three shootout rounds.
Los Angeles entered this game with aspirations of narrowing the gap on Vancouver in the hopes of eventually wrestling the second seed in the Pacific Division away from the Canucks. That might still happen, but Los Angeles will now need some outside help. On top of that, Winnipeg won tonight so if the playoffs started tomorrow, Los Angeles wouldn’t be participating in them at all.
That’s largely due to the Kings’ inability to convert in overtime or shootouts as they have dropped to a combined 3-15 in those scenarios. That’s the worst record in the league by a decent margin and significantly behind Winnipeg (11-12), Calgary (13-7), and Vancouver (11-5). So if the defending Stanley Cup champions end up falling short of the playoffs, that will be an easy thing to point to as the cause.
That being said, Los Angeles still has a game against Calgary on Thursday, so the Kings’ fate is still in their hands.
All the latest from the blue paint…
You can be their hero, Eddie
The Canucks had three goalies on the ice for this morning’s optional skate — Ryan Miller, Jacob Markstrom and Eddie Lack — but it’ll be the latter who’ll get the start tonight in a crucial tilt versus Los Angeles.
Lack hasn’t exactly been a hero over his last five games, going 2-2-1 with a .903 save percentage, numbers that have been skewed by tough outings in Winnipeg (five goals on 36 shots) and Nashville (four goals on 38). It’s also worth noting Lack’s seen an awful lot of rubber lately; he’s faced an average of 35.2 shots per game over his last five, including 40 in a overtime loss to Dallas last week.
With Miller getting closer to a return to game action, tonight’s tilt will prove huge for Lack’s future as Vancouver’s No. 1. Tonight’s tilt will also prove huge for Western Conference playoff jockeying, as the Kings head into tonight’s action just three points back of Vancouver in the Pacific, and one back of Calgary.
Speaking of the Kings, no official word yet on who’ll start, but it’s expected to be Jonathan Quick.
‘Canes at Sabres: Cam Ward vs. Anders Lindback
Blue Jackets at Rangers: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Henrik Lundqvist
Jets at Wild: Ondrej Pavelec vs. Devan Dubnyk (“DUUUBS” — Halford.)
Stars at Sharks: (No Dallas starter yet) vs. Alex Stalock
Halak gets the nod for the Isles
Jaroslav Halak will look to get back on track against the lowly Buffalo Sabres Saturday night. Halak has lost two of three starts while allowing 10 goals on 101 shots. He gave up three goals on 39 shots in the Islanders 4-3 shootout loss to Columbus on Thursday. New York has lost four of five, but can clinch a playoff berth with a regulation win tonight.
Andrey Makarov gets the start for Buffalo.
Penguins at Blue Jackets: Marc-Andre Fleury vs. Sergei Bobrovsky
Canucks at Jets: Eddie Lack vs. Ondrej Pavelec
Red Wings at Wild: Jimmy Howard vs. Devan Dubnyk
Devils at Rangers: Cory Schneider vs. Henrik Lundqvist
Lightning at Panthers: Ben Bishop vs. Roberto Luongo
Capitals at Senators: Braden Holtby vs. Andrew Hammond
Leafs at Bruins: James Reimer vs. Tuukka Rask
Stars at Predators: Jhonas Enroth vs. Pekka Rinne
Sharks at Coyotes: Antti Niemi (unconfirmed) vs. Mike Smith
Flames at Oilers: Karri Ramo vs. Ben Scrivens
Avalanche at Kings: Semyon Varlamov vs. Jonathan Quick