Kings: Playoffs come into focus after win against Stars
April, 2, 2011
By Dan Arritt | ESPNLosAngeles.com
LOS ANGELES — With the 3-1 victory Saturday afternoon against the Dallas Stars, the magic number for the Kings to clinch a playoff berth is two. Simply put, if the Anaheim Ducks can beat the slumping Stars in regulation Sunday at Honda Center, the Kings will be headed to the postseason for the second consecutive year.
Does that mean the Kings will be sitting around their hotel in San Jose on Sunday night, wearing their favorite Teemu Selanne sweater?
The Kings wouldn’t mind taking care of business themselves Monday against the Sharks at HP Pavilion, especially since a win could pull them to within a point of the Pacific Division-leading Sharks -- should San Jose lose in regulation to the visiting Ducks on Saturday night. And besides, nobody wants to meet the Ducks in the playoffs anyway. They might be playing the best hockey of any team in the Western Conference.
“We just have to worry about our own game,” said Kings center Jarret Stoll. “If we get help, that’s not so bad. It is what it is. We just have to keep playing and keep getting some points.”
The win over Dallas was a blueprint for how the Kings will need to proceed without Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams, the teams’ leading scorers who were injured last week. Kopitar is lost for the regular season and playoffs because of torn ligaments in his right ankle. Williams is out for at least the regular season because of a dislocated right shoulder.
The Kings earned the first two goals against the Stars by creating havoc in front of the net. Wayne Simmonds tipped in a slap shot from Willie Mitchell to give the Kings a 1-0 lead in the second period, and Matt Greene banked in a slap shot off the skate of Dallas defenseman Alex Goligoski while he battled for position with Kings rookie Kyle Clifford, giving the Kings a 2-1 lead with about seven minutes remaining in regulation.
That allowed the Kings to pack in their defense around goalkeeper Jonathan Quick.
“We have to play well defensively, check really well, be smart, take advantage of our opportunities,” Stoll said. “We have great goaltending, great defense. Just get the puck up, go north and get on the forecheck, get on the cycle and we can create some chances.”
Play that style, the Kings believe, and they won’t need to root for another team.
“We want to keep clapping,” Greene said. “We want to be playing our best hockey going into the playoffs and that means winning games and winning close games.”