Kings back in playoff position with 3-0 win over Canucks
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kings coach John Stevens decided to put “That 70′s Line” on hiatus for a night.
Instead, having forwards Tyler Toffoli and Tanner Pearson play with center Adrian Kempe gave Los Angeles’ chances of making the postseason a much-needed reboot.
Toffoli and Pearson scored, Kempe had two assists and the Kings moved back into playoff position with a 3-0 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Monday.
Stevens shuffled his lines coming off a 7-2 loss to St. Louis on Saturday, getting the response he was looking for from Los Angeles’ three emerging stars on offense.
“I was really happy for the Kempe line tonight,” Stevens said. “We talked to that line just how much we needed them to play like they did earlier in the year. It could really balance out our attack, and I thought they did tonight.”
Jonathan Quick made 35 saves for his fourth shutout of the season and Anze Kopitar also scored for the Kings, who jumped into third place in the Pacific Division with their fifth victory in seven games. Los Angeles is one point ahead of Anaheim in the division standings.
Anders Nilsson made 30 saves for the Canucks, who were shut out for the second consecutive game. Vancouver has scored three goals during a four-game losing streak.
Toffoli gave the Kings a 1-0 lead 1:57 into the second period with his 22nd of the season. Jake Muzzin made a long pass from deep in the Kings own zone to the red line that sprung Toffoli on a breakaway, which he finished with a wrist shot over a kneeling Nilsson.
“Ty on a breakaway there, he’s not going to miss those too often,” Pearson said.
Muzzin had an assist for the second straight game, leaving him one short of matching his career high of 31 in the 2015-16 season.
Kempe had the secondary assist, ending his six-game point drought.
Kopitar made it 2-0 at 14:54. His centering pass deflected off Troy Stecher’s stick and went fluttering in over Nilsson. It was Kopitar’s first goal during his four-game point streak, to go along with four assists.
Derek Forbort and Drew Doughty had assists on Kopitar’s 28th goal.
Pearson put the Kings ahead 3-0 with his 13th goal at 10:53 of the third, waiting out Nilsson until the goalie was on his knees and had left an open net. It was Pearson’s third goal in five games following a stretch of 15 without one.
Pearson said he wanted to be patient and let Nilsson run himself out of position to make a play. It was also a sequence that reflected the back-to-basics approach the Kings employed after matching their season high in goals allowed against the Blues.
“Obviously, the last game wasn’t what we wanted,” Pearson said. “It’s good to get the win here and in a good way, too. We had a good, solid defensive game, and when we’re that way we create a lot of stuff going the other way.”
For the floundering Canucks, who are 4-12-3 in their last 19 games, coach Travis Green hopes his team can try to focus on little victories instead of its disappearing offense. Green pointed to the three power plays created against the Kings after being limited to one opportunity with the man advantage in each of the previous four games.
“It’s going to weigh on them,” Green said about the lack of goals. “Wasn’t too long ago where we were scoring and sprinkling them around a little bit. Again, you play a game, you reset and you get back at it.”
NOTES: The Kings are 7-4-1 in the first game of a back-to-back set. ... The Canucks are 3-6-0 in the second game of a back-to-back.
Canucks: Visit the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night.
Kings: At the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night.
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