The Kings finally got the combination they've been looking for the last little while: help from the out-of-town scoreboard and then not squandering that assistance in a key division game.
Done and done.
It all came together in a poised effort against the Canucks as the Kings defeated Vancouver, 4-0, on Thursday night at Rogers Arena with goals from Tyler Toffoli, Justin Williams, Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik.
That, and a 4-2 victory by Florida over Winnipeg, enabled the Kings to move past the Jets into the final wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference. They pulled within a point of the second-place Canucks in the Pacific Division. Third-place Calgary and the Kings have the same point total (79), but the Flames own the tiebreaker.
It is the first time since March 1 that the Kings have been in a playoff spot.
“We're back in now?” Williams said. “All right, I want to keep climbing. It's been a long season so far. We've turned it around here a little bit. We know there's a long way to go. There's a lot of games left and a lot can happen.”
Said Kings defenseman Drew Doughty: “It was a good win, an important win. I'm really happy with the way the boys stepped up.”
For Kings goalie Jonathan Quick it was his fifth shutout of the season and 36th of his career. He faced 19 shots and didn't have much work in the latter stages as the Canucks mustered just three shots in the final 20 minutes.
One of his rare challenging moments came when he denied Canucks star Daniel Sedin with a nifty glove save at 10:25 of the third period.
The Kings have 12 road wins this season — going 7-2 on the road since Feb. 5 at Florida. Two of their 12 road wins have come in this building.
Doughty agreed with the assessment that this was a statement game.
“We've had a couple of them lately,” he said. “We had a big win against San Jose in the outdoor game which got the boys rolling, got the boys on track.
“The games [on the road] just got more important. I think the guys were sick of having to talk about why we were doing so bad on the road too. So we decided to turn it around and start winning some.”
Said Kopitar: “For us right now, we've got to get points. We're going after it again. It doesn't matter who we're playing against. It certainly going to help that we've got two [more] games against them.”
The Kings stifled with the flat-looking Canucks with their forecheck and a diversified attack.
Vancouver had been trying to beat all three California teams in consecutive games for the first time in franchise history.
Kopitar and Williams were the only Kings with multi-point games, both scoring once and adding an assist. In particular, Kopitar's unassisted goal, his 14th goal of the season, was the dagger, making it 3-0 just 25 seconds into the third period.
“We were just talking on the bench, making sure we kept going,” Kopitar said. “It's pretty easy and sometimes even natural to just sit back and wait for them. I don't think we gave them too much opportunity of getting some momentum.”
Williams set up Toffoli's power-play goal, at 16:41 of the first period, with an alert cross-ice pass. In his last two games, Williams has five points and has clicked nicely with linemates, rookie center Nick Shore and left wing Kyle Clifford. Shore won eight of nine faceoffs on Thursday.
“The way that Shorsie is playing — he's playing really good,” Williams said. “He's doing a lot of things right. I don't even know if he lost a faceoff tonight. I was out there with him and don't think he did. He's doing a lot of little things right.”