Kings look to block postseason offer for Pacific Northwest trip – Daily News

With the playoffs fast approaching, the Kings could enter their final two games of the season with a berth in hand and an opportunity to secure home ice advantage in the first round.

They traveled to the Pacific Northwest for back-to-back games against the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday and the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

The Kings could clinch a playoff berth as early as Tuesday night with a Vegas loss of any kind to the Dallas Stars. Even if Vegas were to win, the Kings couldn’t get worse than the third seed in the Pacific Division by earning a single point from their last two games via an overtime or shootout loss. The Kings also own the tiebreaker against Vegas so far, with 34 regulation wins to the Golden Knights’ 33.

“We have to do some things that we can control to get where we want to go,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “Now that obviously can change before we play again, but nobody thinks differently here: worry about your own work.”

To leapfrog second-place Edmonton and win home ice in a first-round game with the Oilers, the Kings would have to win and the Oilers would earn a point or none in their remaining three games. Edmonton was two points ahead of the Kings on Tuesday morning and had already solidified its tiebreaker advantage.

Although the fate of their campaign is still malleable, the Kings are poised to make their first playoff appearance since 2018. The following season, center Blake Lizotte made his NHL debut after signing as a undrafted free agent.

The undersized but reckless center has become emblematic of a Kings team that has gone from bare closets and basement in the league’s weakest division to potential Stanley Cup contender. His perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication along with his performance in the last six and shorthanded for the Kings earned him a nomination for the Bill Masterton Trophy this season.

“You don’t do the kind of things good people would do to get noticed, but, at the end of the day, everyone likes to be appreciated for the things they do,” Lizotte said. “It sure is very humiliating.”

Lizotte moved to the third line, bringing his trademark toughness to a line with former first lines Dustin Brown and Alex Iafallo. McLellan said no matter who he lines up with, Lizotte’s presence is felt throughout the lineup.

“Blake has the ability to pull people into the game and he does that every night,” McLellan said. “He trains his teammates and they follow him. When he came out, we miss it. And when it’s in, it’s there.

Another once-unsung prospect, goalie and former third-round pick Jonathan Quick, is an even older symbol of the Kings’ culture of selfless competition. He went on to become the most accomplished goaltender in Kings history and arguably the best American-born goaltender of all time. Heading into the season, youngster Cal Petersen was anointed not so subtly with a new contract extension and the nod to net on opening night.

But down the stretch Quick took the reins in goal, making four consecutive appearances and five out of six to lift the Kings out of the bubble and into the promised land. For his most recent efforts — he went 3-0-0 with a 1.33 goals-against average and .937 save percentage in three games last week — Quick was named the Third Star. of the week in the NHL on Monday.

Quick and the Kings’ final challenges of the season will be a pair of division foes with no playoff aspirations. Seattle (26-46-6) had an inaugural season to forget, after finishing last in the division and being forced to sell plays at the trade deadline. Forward Jared McCann’s 47 points is the leanest number in the NHL for a player leading his team in points, with Philadelphia’s Travis Konecy’s 52 points the second-lowest total.

The Kraken went 4-4-0 over the last eight games, a streak that included the franchise’s first-ever three-game winning streak. Seattle has lost two of three meetings with the Kings to date.

Vancouver (38-30-11) has fizzled lately with three straight losses, but so far they’ve challenged the Kings, Vegas, Dallas and Nashville for the last available playoff spots in the Atlantic Conference. West. Coach Bruce Boudreau is 30-15-9 since taking charge Dec. 7, better than any Pacific Division team except the Calgary Kings and Flames in that period.

Vancouver beat the Kings 4-0 on Boudreau’s debut, but the Kings set up a Game 82 rubber with a 2-1 home shootout victory on Dec. 30. Forward JT Miller’s 96-point campaign is the most prolific for a Canuck since Art Ross Trophy-winning Daniel Sedin’s 104-point season in 2010-11. On Saturday, Quinn Hughes set the all-season record for assists by a Vancouver defenseman (56) and tied the best single-season mark by a Canucks defenseman with 63 points.

Kings in Seattle

When: Wednesday, 7 p.m.

Or: Climate Engagement Arena

TV/Radio: Bally Sports West/iHeartRadio

Kings in Vancouver

When: Thursday, 7 p.m.

Or: Rogers Arena

TV/Radio: Bally Sports West/iHeartRadio

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