Kings ride weird goal to beat Red Wings

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If you looked at the scoreboard alone, you’d think that the Los Angeles Kings played like the more desperate team in pushing the fading Detroit Red Wings to eight consecutive losses (0-7-1).

That makes sense, as the Kings did take care of business on Thursday, and they ended up winning 4-1.

Still, it wasn’t anywhere near as easy as that final score indicates. For one thing, Anze Kopitar‘s game-winning goal was a weird one, and must really bum Jared Coreau out as he had been playing well considering his recent struggles:

Tyler Toffoli and Dustin Brown scored late goals to drive up the margin, but who knows if it would have been as smooth of a ride for Los Angeles if the above bounce didn’t go the Kings’ way?

This isn’t to say that the Kings played poorly, mind you, just that it was a close, low-event game. To an extent, it was very much the type of game Los Angeles was able to grind out during the gravy days of Kopitar, Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty, and others.

This win gives the Kings 84 points in 71 games played. This gives them a shot at catching the Sharks for the second seed (85 points in 70 GP), but first things first, the Kings strengthened their grip on the third spot in the Pacific and a playoff spot in general. The Ducks and Flames also only have 11 games left like the Kings, but Anaheim’s parked at 82 points while Calgary has 80.

From a big picture sense, this wasn’t all bad for Detroit.

At this point, they’re better off losing, at least when they can do so while “keeping their heads high.” That probably applies here, as they were able to play the Kings hard while also leaving without any standings points. With 63 points in 70 games, Detroit could conceivably sink below the Senators (61 points in 69 GP) among some other cellar dwellers.

So, really, both teams did what they needed to do on Thursday, even if it wasn’t always pretty.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.