Dallas Stars @ Los Angeles Kings Game 82 Recap: Showdown with Vegas set

Los Angeles finishes the regular season in the first wild card spot with 98 points.

Jewels from the Crown expresses its great sorrow over the bus crash that killed 15 people, including several members of the Humboldt Broncos, a Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League team, on April 4.  Suffering is difficult to explain, but I believe that whether near or far, whether stranger or kin, we grieve because we love.  Rest in peace.

After a Jamie Benn hat trick in the first period, with all goals assisted by Alexander Radulov, the Dallas Stars defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 in the final game of the regular season.  Though the offense turned on and dominated the Stars in the second and third period, outshooting the Stars 28-8, the Kings gave up four goals in two consecutive games.

The playoff bracket is now set.  The Kings will face the Vegas Golden Knights in the first round.  Vegas has defied all expectations and is perhaps the best expansion team in American sports history, winning the Pacific Division with 109 points.  Leading them are William Karlsson (78 points), Jonathan Marchessault (75), David Perron (66), and Reilly Smith (60).  Colin Miller (31 assists) is the most prolific defenseman, and Deryk Engelland is the elder statesman.  In goal is Marc-Andre Fleury (29-13-4), who has enjoyed amazing support from backups Malcolm Subban (13-4-2), Maxime Lagace (6-7-1), and even Oscar Dansk (3-0-0).

Here is a recap of the four games the teams have played:

November 19, 2017: The Kings were riding one of their best starts in franchise history.  But the Kings stumble out of the gate, as the Knights swarm like buzzing bees and dominate the first period.  Jonathan Quick lets in an ordinary shot tweeners from Karlsson, and from there Vegas hardly looked back.  Vegas starts catching the Kings for the Pacific Division lead.  4-2 Vegas.

December 28, 2017: The Knights have overtaken the Kings for the division lead.  Drew Doughty ties the game in the final five minutes, but David Perron scores in overtime.  3-2 Vegas.

February 26, 2018: In danger of falling out of the playoff race, the Kings face a doubleheader against the Knights.  “The Kings found themselves, as they have so many times this season, trailing by a goal, then two, in the third period. They’ve been remarkably good at finding a goal to get back in it, and they’ve had several occasions where they tied (or appeared to tie) the game. This was the first time this year that they sealed the deal after trailing by two in the third, though, and they did it on a night where Team USA showed up.”  3-2 Los Angeles.

February 27, 2018: Jack Campbell gets the start, having only played 20 minutes in a Kings uniform.  Karlsson scores first.  But Kyle Clifford scores off a turnover.  It sparks a Kings run, and Campbell exhibits brilliance to get his first NHL win.  4-1 Los Angeles.

From Knights On Ice: Golden Knights to take on Kings in first round of Stanley Cup playoffs

The NHL playoffs are scheduled to start April 11.