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.