Kings have scant margin for error in playoff scramble

How many goals did the Kings score Saturday night? Exactly as many as the statue of Luc Robitaille did

First, the Kings honored one of their own, Hall of Fame left wing Luc Robitaille, by unveiling a statue of him in Star Plaza outside Staples Center on Saturday.

After celebrating one of hockey's most productive scorers, the current team went out to face the Pittsburgh Penguins and scored as many goals as Robitaille's statue did.

A turnover set the stage for Pittsburgh forward Patric Hornqvist to score from the slot 1 minute and 44 seconds into overtime and give the Penguins a 1-0 victory before a standing-room-only crowd at Staples Center. The Kings took 31 shots at Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, but he brilliantly handled them all. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick faced only 18 shots but came up with some sharp stops in the third period, as both teams began to press forward and allow their defensemen to join in the play in an effort to score.

"Both teams were pushing for it," Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said. "Both teams probably played as hard as they could."

But that still wasn't good enough for the Kings to keep up the pace in the Western Conference playoff scramble. They needed two points but got only one (for the overtime loss), and they're left hoping it doesn't come back to haunt them.

"It helps us, but these are the tight games that you've got to win," defenseman Matt Greene said. "At this time of the year, you've got to win the one-goal games. We've got to find a way to do that. We're chasing teams right now."

There are two ways the Kings can get into the playoffs: by finishing second or third in the Pacific Division or by earning one of two wild card berths. The Kings, who have 75 points, are two points behind third-place Calgary and three behind second-place Vancouver, but the Flames and Canucks have more regulation and overtime wins than the Kings, the first tiebreaker when teams are even in games played. Minnesota and Winnipeg hold the two wild card spots with 79 and 78 points, respectively.

The Kings, who had Sunday off and resume play Tuesday at Colorado, have little margin for error. They know it.

"We played really well," Sutter said. "They're a tough nut to crack over there, with Fleury. I don't think there were a lot of chances either way, but there were a lot of good chances. That's the way it goes."

Defenseman Jake Muzzin also had no quarrel with the team's effort.

"Their goalie played well. He made some big saves," Muzzin said. "We had a lot of chances and a lot of pucks at the net, a lot of bodies at the net, but he made some big saves when he needed to.

"We played well. Some games you're going to play well and lose, and some games you're going to play not so hot and win. That was a little bit of the case [Saturday]. We played solid but just couldn't get the goals."

Twitter: @helenenothelen

Copyright © 2018, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World