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Kings Go Through Elimination Process

Times Staff Writer

Knowing that they needed a victory to keep their slim playoff hopes alive against one of the NHL’s worst teams, the Kings couldn’t get the job done in overtime and lost, 2-1, to Columbus on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

Andrew Cassels scored an empty-net goal with 48 seconds remaining in overtime to give the Blue Jackets the win and officially knock the Kings out of the postseason in front of an announced crowd of 17,493.

What made the Kings’ defeat even worse was the fact that they had a two-minute man-advantage in the extra period but still came up short on a night when a tie would not have been good enough.

Goaltender Cristobal Huet had another impressive outing for the Kings, finishing with 22 saves -- one on a penalty shot against Andrej Nedorost in the second period -- and Jaroslav Modry scored his third goal in four games.

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But in the end, it wasn’t enough, as Columbus improved to 4-0 against Los Angeles.

So with six games remaining on their schedule, the Kings can officially start making their summer vacation plans.

“You’ve got to fight to the end, and that’s how we did it,” King center Brad Chartrand said. “There’s a lot of pride in this room. There was not one guy going through the motions.”

Especially King Coach Andy Murray. In a desperate attempt to stave off elimination, he pulled Huet to get a five-on-four advantage after Columbus killed off a high-sticking penalty against Jamie Allison.

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“Their bench was upset that we were pulling our goalie, but I don’t think they understood the circumstances,” Murray said.

“What do we say to our fans if we don’t give our last-gasp effort? That’s what our team is all about.”

The move backfired, as Cassels hit the empty net from center ice.

“I was a little surprised they pulled the goalie, but I guess they needed the two points,” Cassels said.

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“One of their guys jumped me at the red line and I didn’t want to make a turnover, so I just threw it toward the net and fortunately it went in.”

Jaroslav Spacek scored on a power play early in the third period to pull the Blue Jackets into a 1-1 tie.

The Kings were swept in a season series of four or more games for the 15th time in franchise history, but only the third time in 22 seasons. Los Angeles totaled only five goals against a defense that has surrendered 242 goals -- the second-most in the league to Atlanta.

“This was a team we should beat,” King defenseman Aaron Miller said. “We’re just not a team that can win the close games right now.”

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KINGS UP NEXT

Thursday at Colorado, Pepsi Center, 5 p.m., ESPN--The Avalanche eliminated the Kings from the playoffs each of the last two seasons and will face Los Angeles twice over final two weeks of the regular season.

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