The left leg of goalie Jonathan Quick could have been symbolic of the Kings extending their season, at least for another 48 hours.
Their margin of error for making the playoffs was about as much room as Quick had when he raised his leg in midair to make an incredible save on Arizona Coyotes’ Peter Holland in the opening minutes Sunday.
It will instead be a rare highlight in a 2-1 loss that officially knocked the Kings out of playoff contention. Needing a win to stay alive, the Kings fell to the second-worst team in the Western Conference despite a fluke goal and four power plays in the final 20 minutes.
The Kings could have been eliminated before the game with one standings point earned by Nashville, but that door was left open earlier Sunday when Nashville lost in regulation to St. Louis. But it took the Kings more than 44 minutes to score, and it happened on a freak play toward the end of a power play.
Alec Martinez tried to dump the puck in from center ice and it hit the leg of Arizona’s Jordan Martinook and went into the open net because Coyotes goalie Mike Smith vacated it to stop the rim-around.
The goal energized Staples Center, but the Kings couldn’t score on three ensuing power plays, two because of delay of game penalties against Arizona for sending the puck over the glass.
Perhaps it was indicative of their season.
“We just had too many stretches of playing not remotely good enough, and the losses kept piling on,” Anze Kopitar said. “I think coming back after the break, we weren’t as sharp as we needed to be.”
Kings Coach Darryl Sutter before the game lamented their lack of scoring, and that was evident at the start of the second period when the Kings struggled to put a shot on goal against Arizona’s tight-checking system.
After the game, Jonathan Quick said, “ I don’t think it’s all on the goal scoring. “This time of year you’ve got to know how to keep the puck out of your net just as much as you need to know how to put it in. It’s on everybody.”
Sutter also cited the rise of the rest of the division as a factor for their demise.
“These guys know,” Sutter said. “Edmonton, Calgary and San Jose all took a major step in terms of what their teams were. Keep up. You’ve got to keep up. There’s no question about it.”
Arizona isn’t in that conversation but has shown pride before an early summer. It beat the league-leading Washington Capitals in the previous game, and took a 1-0 lead on Alexander Burmistrov’s power-play goal with 15 seconds left in the first period. Burmistrov whacked in his own rebound on a shot-pass by Oliver Ekman-Larsson.
Poor puck handling by the Kings led to Anthony Duclair’s goal when he converted his own rebound for a 2-0 lead at 3:09 of the second period. It was Duclair’s first goal since Dec. 29, although he spent time in the minors.
Mixed into Sunday’s drama was possibly the last matchup between Jarome Iginla and Coyotes captain Shane Doan. Their 21-year careers run parallel, from their days as junior hockey teammates with the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League.
Iginla played in his 1,550th game to pass Alex Delvecchio for 12th on the all-time list. Doan played his 1,538th game.
“I’m not sure. Who knows?” Iginla said of the possible final meeting. “We both have been very fortunate and blessed to play as long as we have. It’s pretty cool. “We’ve played right around the same amount of games and same amount of time. It’s been fun, and I’m sure if you ask him, it’s gone quick. I don’t know what his plan is, and I don’t really know mine for sure, either.”