The Los Angeles Kings beat the Dallas Stars 3-1 in a critical Pacific Division/Western Conference battle, putting them one win away from the playoffs.
The Kings came in with a magic number of six (any combination of L.A. wins and Dallas losses) to make the postseason.
The first period was very evenly matched. Both teams took 12 shots but failed to score. Also, no penalties were called in the frame.
In fact, neither team drew a call until Brad Richardson and Mike Ribeiro were hit with incidental roughing minors with nine seconds left in the second period.
The middle frame also saw the first two goals of the game.
The Kings took the lead on a deflection off Wayne Simmonds, assisted on by Willie Mitchell and Trevor Lewis.
While the play was scored as having deflected off Simmonds, it also went off the Stars’ Alex Goligoski.
Also, Dallas defenseman Mark Fistric tried to clear the puck from the crease before accidentally pushing it over the line.
Just one minute and 13 seconds later, Dallas tied things up on a goal by Brad Richards.
The first two tallies both saw scoring changes.
The L.A. goal originally went to Willie Mitchell with the secondary helper being credited to Alexei Ponikarovsky.
The only assist on Richards’s goal initially went to Jamie Benn before Goligoski was later credited with an additional helper.
Goligoski played a hand in a goal for the third straight time as the Kings took back the lead.
Defenseman Matt Greene got his second goal of the season when his slap shot went in the net off Goligoski’s skate. Simmonds and Kyle Clifford got the assists.
The marker ties Greene’s career-high for the third straight season.
L.A. tacked on an insurance empty-netter tally by captain Dustin Brown with just 7.4 seconds remaining in the third.
Brown worked hard to get the puck in the Kings zone before carrying it all the way up ice and depositing it into the net.
The Kings are now in fourth place in the Western Conference with 96 points and just one win away from clinching a spot in the playoffs.
Winning goalie Jonathan Quick made 24 saves; the loser, Kari Lehtonen made 29.
The three stars were Simmonds, Drew Doughty and Stephane Robidas.
Staples Center was sold out, upping the Kings’ franchise record for home sellouts at the building yet again.
The Kings look to secure a playoff berth tomorrow at 7 p.m. PT against the division-leading San Jose Sharks, who sit three points in front of L.A.