NHL

LA Kings rally late, finish 3rd in the Pacific Division with a 5-4 overtime victory over Chicago

LA Kings rally late, finish 3rd in the Pacific Division with a 5-4 overtime victory over Chicago

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Viktor Arvidsson scored the tying goal with 1:21 left in regulation, and the Los Angeles Kings earned a playoff rematch with Edmonton by jumping into third place in the Pacific Division with a 5-4 overtime victory against the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday night.

The Kings’ comeback and the defending champion Vegas Golden Knights’ loss to Anaheim propelled Los Angeles into a third straight postseason meeting with the Oilers, who beat the Kings in both of their previous two first-round matchups. Los Angeles (44-27-11) finished with 99 points, one ahead of the Knights (45-29-8).

Los Angeles took a two-goal lead into the third period against Chicago, but promptly blew it when the Blackhawks scored three times in five minutes. A regulation loss would have put the Kings into a first-round matchup with Dallas, the top seed in the Western Conference.

“It’s hard not to think about the whole picture,” Los Angeles captain Anze Kopitar said. “I guess we kind of knew what the score was (in Las Vegas) going out for the third period, and all that stuff. Didn’t plan on going down one goal, but I guess we got the job done in the end, and we’re going back to Edmonton.”

The Kings finally evened it when Arvidsson scored his second goal of the night during a 6-on-4 advantage with goalie Cam Talbot pulled for an extra attacker and Chicago's Philipp Kurashev in the penalty box.

With third place secured by the single point for reaching overtime because of Los Angeles' advantage in a tiebreaker, Adrian Kempe won the game with an unassisted goal just six seconds into OT, and the Kings' minds turned to Edmonton.

“We definitely want to beat them now,” said Quinton Byfield, who scored his 20th goal. “I think we owe them, but they’re a really good team. They added a lot of great pieces at the deadline, so they’re going to be a tough out, for sure. But they’re a team that we really want to beat.”

Tyler Johnson, Joey Anderson and Ryan Donato scored in the third-period flurry by the Blackhawks, with Donato getting the tiebreaker with 13:32 to play in the final game of the NHL's regular season.

Arvidsson had two goals and an assist in another huge game for a veteran who missed 63 games this season with injuries. Byfield snapped his personal 19-game goal drought for the Kings, while Trevor Moore also scored and Phillip Danault had three assists.

“Well, we got it done, right?” Kings coach Jim Hiller said. “I thought their goalie played very well. It ended up being close because we gave them some chances in the third period. Didn’t think it should have been a close game. We had to gather ourselves and score some big goals.”

Talbot made just nine saves.

Lukas Reichel also scored and Arvid Soderblom stopped 31 shots for the Blackhawks, who lost their sixth consecutive game to finish with the second-fewest points in the NHL for the second consecutive season.

Chicago finished with 52 points — the Original Six franchise’s fewest in a season since earning 50 in 1955-56.

“I’m looking for the positives and things that we can build off of, and that’s why I think it’s so disappointing," Chicago forward Nick Foligno said. "We want to feel good about yourself going into the offseason. But then again, we are a team that needs to make some changes here, and this isn’t good enough. This can’t be good enough. This has to change drastically over the summer.”

After its fourth consecutive spring without a playoff berth, Chicago will have the second-best odds to win the upcoming draft lottery.

Chicago won the lottery with the third-best odds last year to claim Connor Bedard, who finished his rookie season with 61 points in 68 games, including 28 in his final 29 games after returning from injury in mid-February. Bedard led all NHL rookies in points and goals (22) while tying Minnesota defenseman Brock Faber for the most assists (39).

Byfield put the Kings ahead in the second period with a tap-in redirection from the Blackhawks' crease. The former No. 2 overall pick is only the third player in Kings history to record a 20-goal season before his 22nd birthday.

Moore scored his team-leading and career-best 31st goal 80 seconds later, but Johnson scored his eighth power-play goal of the season for Chicago early in the third. Anderson then tied it after 21-year-old Landon Slaggert impressively took the puck away from Kopitar along the boards.

Donato knocked home MacKenzie Entwhistle's shot with 13:32 left in regulation, silencing the Kings' stunned crowd.

UP NEXT

Blackhawks: The NHL draft lottery in early May.

Kings: Game 1 of the first round Monday night at second-place Edmonton.

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL

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