The Kings were officially eliminated from the postseason following their 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames Thursday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
In order to stay alive, the Kings needed to get out of Calgary with two points. They failed to do so; and their loss helped the Flames clinch their first playoff berth since the 2008-’09 campaign.
The Kings struggled to get much going in the opening period, falling behind 2-0 after the Flames netted a pair of goals in a 2:13 minute span. After Calgary was able to build an early lead, they turtled, often keeping five men back, and icing the puck whenever the Kings started to create sustained pressure in their zone.
The second period saw the Kings respond, outshooting the Flames 12-4, but they were granted few second opportunities with Calgary’s defensive strategy.
Jordan Nolan inched the Kings to within one five minutes into the third period when he buried his sixth goal of the season. Alec Martinez initiated the play, controlling the puck deep in Calgary’s zone as he waited for an open outlet.
Martinez, who sensed pressure coming, directed a puck toward the front of Calgary’s net. Martinez’s pass ricochet off the side of the net before landing straight onto the stick of Jordan Nolan, which Nolan buried past Jonas Hiller’s blocker side.
The Kings upped their tempo in the final minutes, playing for their season, but were unable to get another puck past Jonas Hiller.
Calgary’s Jiri Hudler struck for an empty-net tally with 50 seconds to play to secure the Flames’ 3-1 win.
The Kings will miss the postseason for the first time since the 2008-’09 season.
“We know what we’ve got to do, and I think that’s a good thing to have,” Anze Kopitar said in regards to the Kings’ future. “Obviously this one is really tough to swallow, I did not picture this season to go the way that it did. We’ve got to come back next year stronger, that’s what it is. We’ve got to learn from this.”
Jordan Nolan (1G), Mike Richards (1A), and Alec Martinez (1A) led all Kings players in points scored (1), Drew Doughty and Marian Gaborik in shots taken (4), Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis, and Dustin Brown in hits delivered (4), Jarret Stoll in shots blocked (2), and Drew Doughty in minutes played (29:20). Jonathan Quick made 22 saves in the loss.
With the loss, the Kings’ record falls to 39-27-15; their mark on the road away from STAPLES Center drops to 15-18-8. The Kings will return to Los Angeles to finish the regular season on Saturday afternoon. They’re set to take on the San Jose Sharks at 12:00PM PT at STAPLES Center.