The Vancouver Canucks had done their part, losing in Boston Saturday afternoon. With that help from their Smythe Division rivals, the Kings went into Saturday night's game against the Calgary Flames at the Forum with a chance of clinching a playoff spot.
To that end, the Kings jumped out to a 3-1 lead after two periods, but a bad night by King goaltender Al Jensen eventually led to a 4-3 Calgary victory.
Vancouver's 2-1 loss to Boston had reduced the Kings' magic number to one, meaning that even if the Canucks win all of their remaining games, the Kings need only win or tie one game to make the playoffs.
The Kings (30-38-8) are in fourth place in the Smythe Divison and the Canucks are in fifth.
In the first two periods, Calgary managed only one goal even though Jensen was straying far from the crease, leaving an open net.
Calgary (46-29-2) would likely have scored more than one goal if not for aggressive play from the King defense and backchecking from the forwards.
In the third period, the Flames scored on two of their first three shots. The first goal came off a faceoff to the right of Jensen.
The puck squirted out, bounced off King defenseman Mark Hardy's skate and skidded slowly toward the King net. It went in on the glove side.
The Flames tied it shortly after. Jim Peplinski took a pass from Paul Reinhart and put it in from the left side to make it 3-3 at 4:51.
Joe Nieuwendyke, signed by the Flames March 5, gave Calgary the lead with a slapshot at 15:54.
The Kings could not mount a sustained attack at the end of the period, but Calgary did. With Jensen again out of the nets, two Flames rushed at Dave Taylor, who was defending the King goal.
Taylor tipped the shot, but Jensen, apparently threw his stick on the play. Calgary was awarded a penalty shot.
Joe Mullen then proceeded to beat Jensen at 19:35.
The Kings asked for a measurement of Mullen's stick and it was found to be an illegal stick and the goal was taken away.
It was small compensation for the Kings.
The Kings' first goal came at 9:42 in the first period after Sean McKenna raced up the left side and left a drop pass for Luc Robitaille. Robitaille passed to Bob Carpenter, who scored.
And then Jimmy Carson's wrist shot near the end of a power play gave the Kings a 2-0 lead.
Tim Hunter scored on Calgary's sixth shot of the game at 18:18 to make it 2-1 for the Kings at the end of the first period.
Carson scored again, on a power play at the start of the second period, giving the Kings their 3-1 lead. It was Carson's 36th goal of the season.