Kings crush Avalanche to maintain playoff spot after Flames pass Blues

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It took just 47 seconds for Marian Gaborik to score the first goal of Wednesday’s Kings – Avalanche game, which would end up being all that Los Angeles needed. Not that they stopped there against Colorado.

Jeff Carter scored two goals to help the Kings carry a 3-0 lead through the first, the Kings added two more in the third and Los Angeles beat Colorado 5-0 on Wednesday.

It was a game between a Kings team clawing for a Western Conference wild card spot and an Avalanche team already pondering summer plans (and sweating trade rumors) … and it showed. The Kings dominated in just about every area, with Peter Budaj needing only 22 saves for his sixth shutout of 2016-17.

Budaj is 34 years old. Before this season, he played in one game in 2015-16 and 24 games in 2013-14, seemingly being on his way out of the NHL.

Instead, he’s enjoying what’s easily the best campaign of his career.

Speaking of careers, Darryl Sutter considers his distinguished work behind the bench. Considering the circumstances, this is shaping up to being one of his better jobs with the Kings.

This was an important win for the Kings, and with the Calgary Flames mashing the Minnesota Wild 5-1 on Wednesday, the West’s playoff picture no longer includes the Ken Hitchcock-less St. Louis Blues:

Wild card races in the West

1. Kings – 56 points in 51 games
2. Flames – 55 points in 53 games

Blues – 53 points in 50 games
Canucks – 52 points in 50 games
Stars – 52 points in 51 games
Jets – 52 points in 53 games

Yep, this win was a pretty big deal for the Kings, and they made no mistake about it against the Avs.