First in the Pacific could be up for grabs Saturday
Look forward to a wild Saturday night in San Jose, as the Kings and San Jose Sharks will play a game that could have a ton of significance.
Depending on the results of Friday's game between Phoenix and St. Louis, the winner of Saturday's Kings-Sharks game could finish first in the Pacific Division -- with the third seed in the Western Conference -- while the loser could finish in eighth place.
There could be plenty of bad blood as well, as the game will be a rematch of Thursday's game in Los Angeles, in which the Sharks rallied twice in the third period and beat the Kings 6-5 in a shootout.
There were three fights and a total of 63 penalty minutes in the game, and that's not including an odd scene late in the third period, when San Jose's Ryane Clowe reached out from the bench and played the puck with his stick. No penalty was called.
The Kings and Sharks are tied in points and in regulation/overtime wins, meaning that whomever takes two points from Saturday's game will finish higher in the conference standings. That will mean third place if Phoenix stumbles, or seventh place.
The Kings clinched a playoff spot just before their game started Thursday, when Nashville beat Dallas.
"It's a battle, and we're going to have to go in there and play a good road game, like we've done all year," center Jarret Stoll said.
"We've played well on the road. We've won in tough buildings, and it's no different in game 82. They got a little bit of momentum out of this game, but we'll regroup (Friday) and we'll get right back on the horse here and go into San Jose and play well."
Kings select Quick as team MVP
--During Thursday's game, the Kings announced their team awards. As voted upon by media members, Jonathan Quick was named the Kings' most valuable player and the team's best defensive player. Jeff Carter was voted the best newcomer and Willie Mitchell was voted the outstanding defenseman. As voted upon by Kings players, Jonathan Quick was named the most inspirational player, while Trevor Lewis and Rob Scuderi were named co-winners of the "unsung hero" award. Quick was named the teams' most popular player, through a vote of the team's booster club.
--It was an odd night for special teams, as the Kings scored a season-high four power-play goals but also allowed a season-high three power play goals. The Kings had not scored four power-play goals in a game since Feb. 16, 2009, against Atlanta.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "It's a good challenge for us. Sometimes when you go into these playoff races, it's nice to have a goal, to clinch the division and not just squeak in. It's nice." -- Kings center Anze Kopitar, on fighting Phoenix, San Jose and Dallas for the Pacific Division title.
--RW Jeff Carter was able to get back on the ice Thursday morning, eight days after a suffered a deep bone bruise on his ankle in a game against Calgary. Carter did not play Thursday night against San Jose, as he missed his fourth consecutive game, but Carter did skate for approximately 20 minutes after the Kings completed their morning skate. Coach Darryl Sutter said Carter would not play again before he participates in a full-team practice, and Carter indicated that he would not practice Friday, putting in doubt his availability for Saturday's regular-season finale. Carter did say that, in the event the Kings qualify for the playoffs, he would be available for the start of a first-round series.
--C Anze Kopitar had to sit and watch at the end of last season.
Now, he's helping the Kings in their push toward the playoffs. Kopitar suffered a devastating ankle injury last March and was forced to miss the Kings' final seven regular-season games, as well as all of their six-game, first-round playoff series loss to San Jose. Kopitar has returned this season, played all 81 games and leads the Kings in goals and assists going into the regular-season finale. "Being sidelined last year, it's definitely a good feeling right now that I am able to help and that we're in this together, instead of just watching and hoping and being the No. 1 fan at home," Kopitar said. Kopitar had one assist Thursday and set a new career-high with his 49th assist of the season.
--Rookie LW Dwight King has been perhaps the biggest surprise of the season. Called up in mid-February, after an injury to C Jarret Stoll, King not only stayed in the Kings' lineup upon Stoll's return but has thrived in a second-line role alongside veteran C Mike Richards, whom King said has been a big help in King's transition to the NHL. King has five goals in 26 games since being called up.
"Obviously, everybody wants to improve and get better and get a chance to play in the NHL," King said. "I'm obviously happy to be here and get the opportunity, and it's going well so far. I've been playing with great players, so that has kind of helped me along. So far, so good."