Coyotes' victory damages Kings' division title hopes

April 6, 2012

The Kings absorbed a setback in their quest for the Pacific Division title and No. 3 playoff seeding when they were passed by the onrushing Phoenix Coyotes on Friday and tumbled to seventh in the Western Conference standings with one game left in the season.

The Coyotes vaulted into the division lead with a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues, improving their record to 41-27-13 for 95 points. The Kings (40-27-14) have 94 points entering the conclusion of their home-and-home series against the Sharks at San Jose on Saturday, the final game of the NHL’s regular season. The Sharks dropped to eighth Friday.

Goaltender Mike Smith was sensational Friday for the Coyotes, who have won four consecutive games. The first-period goal he yielded to Patrik Berglund was the first scored against him in 234 minutes 25 seconds and ended a streak of 161 consecutive saves, an NHL record.

The Coyotes end their season Saturday against the Wild in Minneapolis.

Courtesy of Kings stats guru Jeremy Zager, here are the remaining scenarios from the Kings' perspective:

If the Coyotes win Saturday, whether in regulation, OT or shootout, they would win the division and be seeded No. 3. The Coyotes would have 97 points and neither the Kings nor Sharks could catch them. The winner of the Kings-Sharks game would take the No. 7 seeding and the loser would be No. 8.If Phoenix gets one point Saturday, by losing in overtime or a shootout, it would have 96 points and 35 regulation/overtime wins (ROW). The Kings could then win the division and take the No. 3 seeding if they win in regulation or overtime: they would then have 96 points and 35 ROWs and the Kings would have the tiebreaker over Phoenix in head-to-head points.

If the Kings win Saturday in a shootout Phoenix would win the division because it would own the ROW tiebreaker 35 to 34. The Kings would take the seventh seed and SJ would take the eighth seed. San Jose wouldn’t be able to win the division no matter what because Phoenix would own the ROW tiebreaker. If San Jose defeats the Kings in this scenario the Sharks would be seventh and the Kings would be eighth.

If Phoenix loses in regulation on Saturday it would have 95 points and 35 ROWs. The winner of the Kings-Sharks game would have 96 points and thus be the division winner and be seeded No. 3. The loser of the Kings-Sharks game (whether in regulation, OT or shootout) would finish eighth. Even if the loser of the Kings-Sharks game gets one point with an overtime or shootout loss, Phoenix would own the tiebreaker in the ROW category.

If the Kings finish with the No. 3 seeding they will play either Chicago or Detroit. If the Kings finish seventh or eighth, they will play either Vancouver or St. Louis.

The entire playoff schedule will be released on Sunday. The playoffs are scheduled to begin Wednesday.

--Helene Elliott