Bruins @ Kings Recap: Playoff Worth

The last time they faced one another, the Kings trounced the Bruins 9-2. Coming off a 4-0 loss the night before, the Bruins probably felt like they had a lot to prove.

The last time the Kings faced Milan Lucic's old team, the Kings scored nine goals. This time, there would be no Ferris Bueller gifs, as the Kings scored 77.8% fewer goals. Still, it was a nice reversal from their previous game against the Rangers where they never led, because they never trailed in this one.

[Box Score]

The Kings established dominance early in the first period in this game. The Bruins were unable to hold the puck in the offensive zone for any period of time, which allowed the Kings to rack up 25 shot attempts and 12 scoring chances at the other end. Still, for all their effort, the Kings never converted their pressure into a penalty call, and the only whistle was for an odd scrap between Dwight King and Adam McQuaid when a routine board battle turned into gloves flying off.

The first period looked to be a scoreless one until the final minute. An attempted clearing pass from down low got past Dennis Seidenberg along the boards. Vincent Lecavalier got to the boards before Dennis could clean up his mistake and Vinny got off a pass to Luke Schenn at the point. With the disarray of the defense after an assumed clear, Schenn had a clear shot to the net. As he let the shot go, Tanner Pearson was also skating uncontested through the high slot area. Tanner put a stick on the shot just as it passed him, and the resultant redirection was enough to fool Tuuka Rask and put the Kings up 1-0.

Good things also happened early in the second period. Anze Kopitar passed the puck from below the goal line to Alec Martinez. Alec Martinez passed to Jake Muzzin along the left boards, but it was only for a return pass to setup his one-timer. In this time, Anze Kopitar had time to setup in front of the net, and many players were skating through Rask's sight lines. The puck whizzed toward the net and Tyler Toffoli glided out of the way to open up a window for the puck to hit the top corner of the net.

After the second Kings' goal, a second game started - one in which the Bruins controlled play and had the Kings on their heels. Anze Kopitar lost a board battle below the net and either didn't get the pass he wanted or a tie of sticks wasn't able to control the puck's direction. Either way, it went directly to Tyler Randell, who was in perfect shooting position and beat Jonathan Quick. The Kings then took four penalties over the course of the remainder of the game, and the Bruins quickly overtook the 5-16 shot deficit the second goal against put them in.

The Bruins levied a huge number of shots on the powerplay, but the combination of stellar play by Quick and good defense on second attempts kept the Bruins from getting on the board again. Quick was particularly good at saving a few golden chances from the Bruin's Brad Marchand. Across all strengths, Marchand had ten individual shot attempts for six scoring chances. Center Patrice Bergeron had the same numbers, minus one scoring chance. It was clear that that combination was the biggest threat to the Kings keeping their lead once the tide changed.

The play of Tyler Toffoli was perhaps under the radar even though he matched Marchand's scoring chance numbers as bounced around from the "fourth" line of Nick Shore to the top line with Anze Kopitar. Still, the first star went deservedly to Jonathan Quick, who stopped 27 of 28 shots. Quick's play has been the best since the 11-12 season, and it's probably helped the Kings eek out a few wins they wouldn't have otherwise.

After all was sound and done, the Kings had another two points from a regulation win. What's more, the Arizona Coyotes lost their game in regulation, which meant that the Kings had become the second team in the NHL after the Washington Capitals to clinch a playoff spot. With 11 whole games left, the Kings are merely jockeying to determine their own first round opponent and whether they get home ice. With a six point divisional lead, the chance that they face a wild card team is very real. With two games in hand over the Stars, they could make up that point gap as well, and be in a position to get the worse of the two wild card teams. That would also mean home ice advantage through the entire Western Conference playoffs. That's certainly a new feeling for the perennial low seeds, but I'm sure they could get used to it.