LOS ANGELES — One of the most prolific postseason teams in recent NHL history will not miss out on this year’s action — the Kings are headed back to Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Kings clinched a spot in the Playoffs Wednesday night at the Staples Center in convincing fashion with a 4-0 win over the Coyotes.
It’s the fifth-straight season that the Kings are playoff bound, but while it might have been a momentous occasion in seasons past, the bar is set much higher these days.
"Maybe four or five years ago this was a big deal," said captain Dustin Brown. "Now this is just part of the process. It is good to get it out of the way now when we need to use our remaining games to get our game in order."
But their game looked in order in just about every aspect. For their seventh win in eight tries, the Kings scored only 80 seconds in, establishing their power against a Phoenix team desperate for a win to stay in the playoff race.
Twice the Kings scored on the power play — a feat that would have been a notable incident during their power play drought a few months ago — and Jeff Carter scored a highlight-reel goal in the third to do away with the Coyotes when he forced a turnover, skated all the way down and went five-hole off the pad of goaltender Thomas Greiss.
They dominated the puck possession and physically outworked their opponents, holding the Coyotes to a season-low 17 shots. Quick worked his 31st career shutout to move just one behind Rogie Vachon for the all-time record and set a new single-season club record of 12.
"I thought they just played a better game tonight," said Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal. "They outcompeted, outhit and outplayed us today so it was as simple as that."
Three weeks ago, the Kings collapsed in the third period, marking the first time since 2009 they failed to win after holding a 40-minute lead. Monday night against another team in the thick of the wild card chase in Minnesota, they did the same. It was a bigger point of emphasis as the team that bettered them in the final 20 minutes last month was back in town and hungrier.
"I think the difference between tonight and (Monday night) is obviously, we held that lead in the third, that was a big focus," said defenseman Alec Martinez. "I thought we played a full 60 minutes. We got contributions from special teams, which was huge, and I thought we played pretty well defensively."
The Kings (45-26-6, 96 points) will play the second half of a back-to-back Thursday night in San Jose. Still nine points behind the Sharks, a playoff berth won’t change their approach to facing their Pacific Division rivals or anyone else they face for the remained of the regular season.
"I don’t think you take your foot off the gas," Brown said. "That’s what these last games are about is getting our game honed in and getting ready to the type of games we will play in the playoffs."