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Kings grab sole possession of fifth in West

Tuesday, 03.22.2011 / 1:56 AM / Countdown to the Playoffs

By Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

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Kings grab sole possession of fifth in West
A dramatic victory in Los Angeles helped the Kings move within a point of fourth place in the Western Conference on Monday night.
A dramatic victory in Los Angeles helped the Kings move within a point of fourth place in the Western Conference on Monday night.

Jarret Stoll scored in regulation before Anze Kopitar scored in the shootout as the Kings edged the Calgary Flames by a 2-1 score at the Staples Center. The victory allowed Los Angeles to move two points ahead of both Nashville and Chicago and pull within one of the fourth-place Phoenix Coyotes. The No. 4 seed gets home-ice advantage in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Olli Jokinen erased a 1-0 deficit for the Flames with 4:47 remaining in regulation, which allowed Calgary to earn a valuable point in this heated playoff race. The Flames now have 85 points to match Anaheim and Dallas, but each of those teams has three games in hand on Calgary.

In the East, the fourth-place Penguins -- who lost Matt Cooke for the remainder of the season and the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to suspension earlier in the day -- surrendered a 4-0 lead in Detroit before escaping with two points in a 5-4 shootout victory. The win moved the depleted Pens within four points of first-place Philadelphia in the Atlantic Division.

Here's a look at how the races in each conference shape up after Monday's games:

Eastern Conference


Division leaders

Philadelphia (96 points) was idle again. Just two points ahead of No. 2 Washington, the Flyers will host the Caps on Tuesday night at the Wells Fargo Center. The game can be seen on Versus in the U.S. and TSN2 in Canada.

Washington (94 points) enjoyed the last of a three-day break in its six-game road trip. The Caps, 2-1-0 after the first three games, return to the ice on Tuesday night in Philadelphia -- but they'll do so without Alex Ovechkin, who is suffering from an undisclosed ailment.

Boston (88 points), which was off Monday, is still on top in the Northeast Division despite a 1-3-3 mark in its last seven games. The Bruins will host New Jersey on Tuesday at TD Garden.

The next five:

Pittsburgh (92 points after Monday's 5-4 shootout win at Detroit) rebounded from a 5-2 loss on home ice against the Rangers by beating the Red Wings in a shootout. Now without Matt Cooke for the remainder of the regular season, the Penguins have a huge game in Philadelphia on Thursday.

Tampa Bay
(89 points) did not play Monday. The Bolts, who went 1-0-3 on their four-game road trip, return home to face the Islanders on Tuesday at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Montreal (87 points) was idle Monday. The Habs return to action on Tuesday against Buffalo at the Bell Centre.

New York Rangers (82 points) was off Monday. The Blueshirts host Florida on Tuesday.

Buffalo (79 points) did not play Monday. The Sabres will visit Montreal on Tuesday night.

On the outside looking in:

Carolina (76 points) was idle Monday. The Hurricanes return to action on Tuesday night, when they'll host the Ottawa Senators.

Toronto (74 points) did not play Monday.  The Leafs have a tough week coming up -- they're on the road for three games against Western Conference teams, starting Tuesday at Minnesota.

New Jersey (72 points) was off Monday. Seven points out of a playoff spot, the Devils will visit Boston on Tuesday night.

Atlanta (72 points) was idle Monday. The Thrashers are off another two days before visiting the Islanders on Thursday.

Western Conference


Division leaders:

Vancouver (103 points) had the third of four days off before beginning a road trip in Detroit on Wednesday.

Detroit (95 points) managed to earn a point in the standings despite falling into a 4-0 hole on Monday night against Pittsburgh. The Wings continue their five-game homestand on Wednesday night against Vancouver.

San Jose (92 points) did not play Monday. The Sharks have another day off before Calgary visits HP Pavilion on Wednesday.

The next five:


Phoenix (89 points) was idle Monday. The Coyotes return to action on Tuesday night against St. Louis at Jobing.com Arena.

Los Angeles (88 points after Monday's 2-1 shootout win against Calgary) grabbed sole possession of fifth place with its pulsating victory at the Staples Center. The Kings will play the fourth of their five-game homestand on Thursday against San Jose.

Chicago (86 points) was idle Monday. The Blackhawks return to action on Wednesday against Florida at the United Center.

Nashville (86 points) was also off Monday. The Predators will look to carry the momentum from Sunday's overtime win at Buffalo into Tuesday's game against Edmonton at Bridgestone Arena.

Anaheim (85 points) did not play Monday. The Ducks return to action on Wednesday night at Dallas.

On the outside looking in:

Dallas (85 points) was off Monday. The Stars will continue their playoff push on Wednesday against the Ducks at the American Airlines Center.

Calgary (85 points) managed to get a point with Monday's shootout loss at Los Angeles. It was the beginning of a stretch that features six of seven on the road for the Flames, who will visit San Jose on Wednesday.

Quote of the Day

It's really exciting. I'm pretty sure that when I play my first game I'm going to be emotional. To be back on the ice playing a game, being in game situations, with all the routines and rituals I do before games and during the game, I feel like I'm going to be emotional. I'm going to be really happy.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Tim Bozon on playing for the first time since his life-threaning illness