Nothing really changed much in the great Western Conference playoff race.
But in this case, status quo was almost like a victory for the Kings. They got up Saturday holding a playoff spot and when they departed Staples Center, the Kings still held one by virtue of their 3-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche.
They are tied with the Winnipeg Jets for the final wild-card playoff berth but hold the first tiebreaker, regulation and overtime victories. Elsewhere, the host Winnipeg Jets beat the Vancouver Canucks and the visiting Calgary Flames defeated the Edmonton Oilers.
The Kings tied their franchise low in shots allowed as the Avalanche mustered only 10. That matched the 10 shots on goal by the San Jose Sharks against the Kings on Jan. 11, 1994.
All this would suggest the Kings’ path was relatively straightforward. But it was not.
Until Marian Gaborik scored after a miscue by Colorado goalie Semyon Varlamov with 1:56 remaining, to make it 3-1, the Kings were unable to rest easy. It was Gaborik’s 26th goal of the season.
The other Kings goals came from left wing Dwight King, his 12th of the season, and defenseman Alec Martinez, his sixth.
Jeff Carter had two assists, as did defenseman Robyn Regehr. Martinez had the game-winner at 10:09 of the second period.
He was teased about “scoring” twice on the same play.
“I thought [the first shot] went in but then I looked at the ref and he’s shaking his head,” Martinez said.
These are the sort of games goalies dread. Long periods of inaction and then sudden bursts. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick gave up one goal; he dropped an initial shot by Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly got in behind Quick to knock it in, tying it, 1-1, at 1:12 of the second period.
“It was a tight game, probably a little bit closer than we wanted it, going late into the third,” said Regehr. “Those games are really difficult to play as a goaltender. Jonathan didn’t see a lot of consistent action, and all of a sudden there was a flurry and he made the stops when we needed them.
“He didn’t see a puck for long stretches of time.”
Quick was there when the Avalanche started the third period with some pushback. It was Quick’s 35th victory of the season.
“I’m sure it can’t be too comfortable for Quickie back there,” Kings center Anze Kopitar said. “Not seeing a lot, and even the shots we gave up, they were odd-man rushes, definitely not what you want to give up.
“But that’s the way it is. He’s been stellar for us lately and took care of that for us in the back and we were able to score one late, just to give ourselves a little bit of room.”
Colorado had only five shots on goal until late in the second period and didn’t hit the 10-shot mark until 45 seconds remained. The Kings’ top-end players had a lot to do with that as well.
“I thought our forwards had a really strong game,” Regehr said. “They controlled the play, especially down in the offensive zone. It wasn’t just one line. It was every single line, which was great to see.”
Regehr has three points in the last two games.
“You play that many games, you’re bound to get lucky every now and then,” he said.