Game 44: Kings Win 2-1, improve to 25-14-5
LOS ANGELES – The Columbus Blue Jackets have been a much better team this season and have convinced the rest of the Western Conference that they are no longer the pushovers they once were. But be that as it may, the Los Angeles Kings were having none of it as the defeated the new-look Blue Jackets on Thursday to sweep the season series and hang on to the conference’s fourth-place tiebreak by virtue of total wins.
After a moment of silence before the game to honour the victims of this week’s Boston Marathon, both teams got to business as Drew Doughty continued his recent hot streak as he opened the scoring at the 8:35 mark of the first, notching his sixth of the year and on the power play. There was no scoring until the 12:07 mark of the second as Columbus’ Dalton Prout put in his first of the year to tie the game. But the Kings showed their strong resiliency as just 1:25 later, Kyle Clifford wristed his fifth of the year past Sergei Bobrovsky to put Los Angeles back out in front just like that.
In the third, the Jackets were pressing hard as they outshot the Kings 9-3 but Jonathan Quick was up to the task, stopping everything thrown his way to preserve the win for his team. The Jackets, on the other hand, became so frustrated that they started a scrum at the end of the game which included James Wiesnewski exchanging words with Quick. Cooler heads would prevail as the Kings picked up the two points and enter the weekend with a good dose of momentum on their side.
Thursday night also marked the long-anticipated return of defenseman Matt Greene who had been sidelined since January 19 and while he finished the night with a -1 rating and 16:15 of total ice time, both the Kings and their fans were thrilled to see their Number 2 back on the ice just in time for the playoffs.
This coupled with San Jose‘s win over Minnesota on Thursday means that both the Kings and Sharks remained tied (each with 55 points) in the West standings with each team having four games left on the respective schedule. Of course, as I already mentioned, Los Angeles holds the tiebreaker by virtue of more wins (25) to San Jose’s 24.
Standings aside, Thursday night’s win was a big one as any one is at this point of the season and the Kings hope to ride that success into their Saturday evening tilt at Staples Center with the Dallas Stars in what will be the final meeting between the two teams as division rivals.