The Los Angeles Kings’ path to the playoffs grew more complicated over the span of a few hours Thursday night.
The New York Islanders, on the other hand, didn’t have to do a thing to improve their standing in the Eastern Conference wild-card race.
The Kings will look to bounce back from a potentially costly loss when they continue their five-game road trip on Friday with a game against the Islanders in Elmont, N.Y.
Los Angeles will be completing a back-to-back set after squandering a two-goal lead and falling to the New Jersey Devils 4-3 in overtime on Thursday.
The Islanders were off Thursday after edging the visiting Winnipeg Jets 2-1 on Wednesday.
The Kings took a 2-0 lead in the first period at New Jersey and went ahead 3-2 when Sean Durzi scored with 4:19 left in regulation. However, with Devils goalie Vitek Vanecek pulled for the extra attacker, Nico Hischier redirected a shot by Jack Hughes with 38.6 seconds left to tie the game.
New Jersey’s Dawson Mercer scored 2:30 into overtime to damage Los Angeles’ standing in the Pacific Division and Western Conference wild-card races.
“There’s not a lot of teams that come into this building or play against that team that leave with points,” Kings head coach Todd McLellan said of the Devils, who are in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 81 points. “On the other side of it, it is disappointing we couldn’t get the last 30 seconds done.”
The Kings, who have 72 points, fell into a tie for second place in the Pacific with the Edmonton Oilers by virtue of the Oilers’ 7-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Los Angeles also dropped three points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights, who edged the Calgary Flames 4-3 in overtime.
The Kings are just five points ahead of the second wild-card position, held by the Colorado Avalanche. Los Angeles did get some help later Thursday night when the Boston Bruins overcame a third-period deficit to edge Seattle 6-5, leaving the Kraken at 70 points and atop the West’s wild-card race.
The Islanders — who lead the East’s wild-card race with 67 points, three more than the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers — got a pair of breaks during their night off.
In addition to the Penguins losing and remaining at 63 points, the Washington Capitals (62 points) traded veterans Garnet Hathaway and Dmitry Orlov to the Bruins hours before falling 4-2 to the Anaheim Ducks.
The losses for the Penguins and Capitals continued an encouraging four-day span for the Islanders, whose playoff hopes appeared imperiled on Saturday when star center Mathew Barzal sustained a lower-body injury in a 6-2 loss to the Bruins. Barzal is listed as week-to-week.
However, the Islanders scored three third-period goals on Monday to beat the Penguins 4-2 before outlasting the Jets on Wednesday, when New York had just 22 shots but edged Winnipeg on Simon Holmstrom’s goal with 10:03 left in the third.
“Everybody is upping their game just a little bit more to fill the void of missing so many of our key players,” said Islanders left winger Matt Martin, who usually plays on the fourth line but has seen time on the first line in place of Barzal this week. “Now we’ve just got to keep going.”
–Field Level Media