The Los Angeles Kings are still trying to figure out where they
finish in the Western Conference while the Colorado Avalanche know
they will be the No. 8 seed.
The playoff-bound teams meet for the final time in the regular
season Sunday at the Pepsi Center with Los Angeles trying to reach
100 points for the first time since 1991-92.
The Kings (45-27-9) fell 4-3 to Edmonton in a shootout at home
Saturday, leaving them with 99 points as they vie with Nashville
and Detroit for spots five through seven in the West. Los Angeles
is headed to the postseason for the first time since 2002.
Los Angeles rallied from a 3-0 deficit in the third period
Saturday to gain a point, but failed to fully capitalize on a 55-16
edge in shots on goal. The Kings have been in a franchise-record
four straight shootouts, losing three.
Jonathan Quick is 0-3-3 with a 3.20 GAA while being yanked twice
in eight starts since last winning on March 22.
“It doesn’t bother me,” he said. “There’s no reason it should.
As a team, and me personally, we’ve won plenty of games to be
confident that we’re going to win more, so it doesn’t affect me at
Colorado (43-30-8), meanwhile, is locked into the final playoff
spot in the West. The Avalanche have been one of the biggest
stories in the NHL this season after finishing with a
conference-low 69 points in 2008-09.
The Avalanche also are looking ahead to the postseason, starting
backup goalie Peter Budaj over Craig Anderson in losses over the
last two games after clinching a berth with Tuesday’s 4-3 shootout
victory at Vancouver.
Budaj will likely get the call again Sunday. He’s 5-5-2 with a
2.64 goals-against average this year, and 6-0-1 with a 2.70 GAA in
nine career starts against the Kings.
Colorado’s cautious approach will also determine whether rookie
Matt Duchene will see action. Duchene is listed as doubtful with a
torso injury suffered in a center-ice collision against Edmonton in
Wednesday’s 5-4 overtime loss.
Duchene played in the first period of Friday’s 5-2 loss to
Chicago, but left when the injury flared up again. A likely Calder
Trophy finalist, Duchene was taken to the hospital as a precaution
and discharged Saturday morning.
The 19-year-old was the third pick in the 2009 draft and leads
all NHL rookies in goals (24) and points (55).
“He’s got some time to rest up and get better,” coach Joe Sacco
told the Avalanche’s official Web site. “If we’re playing Wednesday
or Thursday, hopefully he’ll be ready to go by then.”
Colorado has a shootout win, an overtime loss and a regulation
loss in its first three meetings with Los Angeles this season. The
Avalanche can’t wait, though, for the postseason.
“More than anything, I’m excited to be playing in the playoffs
again,” forward Darcy Tucker said. “Our goal all year long as a
team was to get into the playoffs and make sure we’re playing well
going into the playoffs.”