With the St. Louis Blues fading in the distance like a pair of receding taillights, the Kings may soon need to choose another target if they hope to make up ground in a playoff race that is quickly leaving them in the dust.
And to get back in the competition they’ll have to take care of their own business first, something they couldn’t do Tuesday when Arizona’s Max Domi erased a pair of one-goal deficits in the third period, sending the game to overtime and then a shootout, where the Coyotes prevailed, 3-2, when Anthony De Angelo put the puck in the net in the 11th round to silence a sold-out Staples Center.
Domi’s second game-tying goal came with 45 seconds left in regulation, just seconds after the Kings missed a shot at an open net.
Tyler Toffoli scored the Kings’ two goals, the second coming with 96 seconds to play.
The Blues have won five straight, gaining ground on both Nashville in the Central Division and on Edmonton in the wild-card race so for the Kings, catching either the Predators or Oilers may be more realistic than chasing down St. Louis, given the strength of each team’s schedule.
But after the Kings, who have gone to overtime five times in their last eight games, managed just a point Tuesday, how realistic remains an open question. They are four points behind the Blues for the second wild-card spot and have played one more game.
“Every loss is tough,” Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said. “ This one was tougher than any other one .”
Nashville, which would drop into the wild-card race if the Blues pass them, plays 10 of its next 11 games against teams with winning records, among them Washington, Minnesota and San Jose. Edmonton, which won Tuesday, leads the Kings by eight points in the wild-card race but the teams will meet three times down the stretch.
The Blues, meanwhile, will play eight games against teams that are below .500, including six with Arizona and Colorado, the two worst teams in the NHL.
None of that will mean anything if the Kings don’t win their own games first. They couldn’t do that Tuesday against an Arizona team buried in the Pacific Division cellar.
Toffoli opened the scoring five minutes into the second period, gathering in the rebound of a Jake Muzzin shot from the point and knocking it past Arizona’s Louis Domingue from the low slot for his 13th goal of the season.
But Domingue, who was peppered by 46 shots on the night — not counting the 10 he stopped in the shootout — was solid the rest of the way, keeping Arizona in the game. That allowed Domi to tie the score early in the third period.
After the Kings lost the puck in the neutral zone, the Coyotes picked it up and headed the other way, with Christian Dvorak setting up Domi for a wrister from the slot.
Toffoli and Domi then exchanged goals again, Toffoli scoring on a power play with 1:36 to play and Domi tying the score again less than a minute later, sending the game to overtime and eventually to a shootout.
“It’s a shootout. You never know what’s going to happen,” said Kings goalie Ben Bishop, who made 40 saves — including nine in the shootout — yet lost for the third time in three starts with the Kings. “At least it’s a point. It’s better than a zero. You’ve got to look at the positives right now.”
11:40 p.m.: This article was updated with quotes
This article was originally published at 11:10 p.m.