KINGS

Kings captain Dustin Brown looks to playoffs

The often-maddening knack of goal scoring — now you see it and now you don't — was the first subject for Kings winger Dustin Brown.

Brown is on a decided upturn with three goals in his last three games heading into Saturday's contest against the Boston Bruins at Staples Center. He had gone 15 consecutive games without a goal before scoring Monday at Chicago.

Slump busting gave way to discussion of the future.

The Kings were on the verge of qualifying for the playoffs for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. If they were to beat the Bruins in regulation or overtime and the Arizona Coyotes to lose to the Tampa Bay Lightning in any fashion, also Saturday, it would be enough for the Kings to make it. The Kings-Bruins game Saturday finished after this edition's deadline.

There were two other scenarios in which the Kings could clinch a playoff berth Saturday.

Brown was unaware of the timing. 9 "I found out just now," he said Saturday after the Kings' morning skate in El Segundo.

Heading into the night's action, the Kings were four points ahead of second-place Ducks in the Pacific Division and five in front of the third-place San Jose Sharks, which beat the New York Rangers in the afternoon. But the jockeying for the top spot in the Western Conference is even tighter. Dallas holds the top spot with 93 points, St, Louis and the Kings both have 91 points, but the Kings are ahead on the first tiebreaker. The Stars and the Blues were also in action Saturday.

The Kings missed the playoffs last season, failing to make the postseason for the first time since 2009. That they are vying for the top spot in the Western Conference with fewer than four weeks remaining in the season had nothing to do with the shortcomings of 2014-15, Brown thought.

"Quite honestly, it has nothing to do with last year," he said. "We've gone down the path of playing Game 7s on the road. It's definitely something we're comfortable with. But if you say, 'Would you rather play [Game 7] in L.A. or play in Dallas? Would you rather play in L.A. or play in Chicago?' I think we'd much rather play here."

The Kings won three Game 7s on the road in their run to the Stanley Cup in 2014. They made the playoffs in 2012 as the eighth seed, sneaking in just under the wire in the final few days.

"You have to give yourself a chance, right?" Brown said. "Again, we've been in the playoffs as the last seed and done good things. We get to the playoffs — that's the main goal. You hit the reset button, and it's a new season and you start focusing in on whoever you're playing in the first round.

"Up until then until you get that playoff berth, you're focusing on making the playoffs. [If]we clinch tonight, then you start maybe trying to focus in on getting your game in order, for one, but if you're right in the mix … just keeping pace and trying to get home ice."

The Kings took steps in that regard by beating Chicago and Dallas on Monday and Tuesday. Brown scored in both games and followed up with another goal in Thursday's overtime win against the Rangers.

Brown has had long droughts, for instance, going the first 14 games of this season without a goal. Overall, he has 11 goals and 27 points in 70 games. "Sometimes it's how it goes, but a lot of it is getting around the net," Brown said.

Most players say the worst thing they can do in a slump is to make a host of changes. "When things aren't going well, you really need to stick to what has made you successful in the past," Brown said. "I've played really good hockey and don't get the results, and you start thinking you need to change your game."

lisa.Dillman@latimes.com

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