LOS ANGELES (AP) A strong power play and penalty kill can carry a team deep into the Stanley Cup playoffs. Right now, the Los Angeles Kings hope their special teams can do what it takes just to reach the postseason.
Anze Kopitar scored one of his team’s three power-play goals, Jonathan Quick made 23 saves and the Kings moved back into playoff position with a 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames on Monday night.
”Obviously, scoring three power-play goals goes a long way,” Kopitar said. ”I guess this time of year it doesn’t really matter how you do it but you’ve got to figure out ways to win, and we did that tonight.”
Jeff Carter also scored and Dion Phaneuf had a goal and an assist for the Kings, who tied Anaheim for third place in the Pacific Division at 91 points. They also passed Colorado (90 points) and St. Louis (89) in the Western Conference wild-card race.
Phaneuf gave the Kings a 1-0 lead 4:04 into the second period, scoring on a long shot from the blue line five seconds into a power play. All four of Phaneuf’s goals since being acquired from Ottawa in a Feb. 13 trade have come on the man advantage.
Adrian Kempe got the lone assist for winning the faceoff against Troy Brouwer, and Tyler Toffoli set a screen that kept goalie Mike Smith from seeing Phaneuf’s shot.
”The key on power play, if you get people to the net and you get opportunities for lanes to the net and you shoot the puck early, it really forces the penalty killers to turn and face their net,” Kings coach John Stevens said. ”Once Dion shot the first one there, it really had a ripple effect where guys were looking to move the puck quick and get it to the net.”
Kopitar made it 2-0 at 11:55 with his seventh power-play goal of the season. Scoring on a wrist shot from the left circle, Kopitar matched his career high of 34 goals during the 2009-10 season. The Kings captain has five goals in his last three games.
Flames forward Sam Bennett committed three penalties in the opening 30:21, with his infractions for high-sticking and tripping leading to the Kings’ first two power-play goals.
Carter put Los Angeles in front 3-0 by following up his own rebound from close range at 8:24 of the third. He has 10 goals in 16 games since returning from surgery to repair a cut tendon in his ankle.
Los Angeles scored three power-play goals in a game for the third time.
Smith stopped 26 shots for the Flames, who were eliminated from playoff contention. Calgary has been outscored 28-7 during a six-game losing streak.
”It’s tough to create against LA at the best of times, but I thought we limited them. Again, 5-on-5, there weren’t many chances out there. Just the specialty teams came into play,” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said.
Already without forwards Sean Monahan and Matthew Tkachuk because of injury, the depleted Flames had to play without top scorer Johnny Gaudreau, who was not with the team after his father had a cardiac event on Monday.
The lack of scoring punch beyond those three, who have combined to score 78 of Calgary’s 203 goals, is something the Flames will have to address to get back into the playoff chase next season, Gulutzan said.
”You can see that we’re a little bit dependent on some of our top guys to create most of our offense, and that’s an issue that is coming to light a little bit,” Gulutzan said.
NOTES: Kings D Jake Muzzin did not return after sustaining an upper-body injury in the second period. Muzzin fell awkwardly into the boards following a hit by Micheal Ferland. … Dustin Brown had two assists.
Flames: Host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.
Kings: Host the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday night.
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