Daily News Kings edge Blackhawks in season finale, will face Oilers in playoffs again

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LOS ANGELES — The Kings oh-so-narrowly avoided a matchup with top-seeded Dallas by reaching overtime, where they prevailed, 5-4, against the lowly Chicago Blackhawks in Thursday night’s regular-season finale at Crypto.com Arena.

About four hours to the northeast of the arena, the rival Ducks did their part to aid the Kings’ modest last-minute ascent in the standings, beating the defending champion Vegas Golden Knights, 4-1. Vegas had gone 14-6-2 against the other seven playoff teams in the Western Conference – the Kings posted an 8-12-3 mark – but lost three of four matchups with the rebuilding Ducks, all by multiple goals.

That meant the Kings needed just one point to reach third place in the Pacific Division and head to Edmonton to begin the playoffs against the Oilers for a third straight season.

They got two when Adrian Kempe rifled in his 28th goal of the season from the right faceoff dot, unassisted, just six seconds into overtime.

He and the Kings’ offense bailed out goaltender Cam Talbot on a night when he allowed four goals on a meager 13 shots. Kempe added an assist to match the contributions of Quinton Byfield and Trevor Moore. Viktor Arvidsson and Phillip Danault each had three-point nights, with Arvidsson scoring twice.

Game 1 of the Kings’ best-of-seven first-round series is Monday at 7 p.m. in Edmonton.

Ryan Donato had a goal and an assist for Chicago. Joey Anderson, Tyler Johnson and Lukas Reichel also scored for Chicago, which scored three goals in the third period to take the lead. Arvid Söderblom made 31 saves.

Kempe’s individual effort built on the late power-play goal from Arvidsson, who popped into the slot to receive the puck from Byfield, who earned his second contract bonus of the night for his 35th assist as Arvidsson fired the puck through his countryman Söderblom.

A mere 88 seconds into the third period, Chicago halved its deficit and just 2:14 later the visitors erased it completely before taking their second lead of the night at the 6:28 mark.

Forecheck pressure from Jaycob Megna won the puck back for Chicago and MacKenzie Entwhistle, who chucked the puck toward the net front, where it was deflected home by Donato.

Landon Slaggert pestered Anze Kopitar into a turnover, then moved the puck ahead to Anderson, the sibling of the Kings’ Mikey Anderson. He showed no brotherly love as he went forehand to backhand to slip the puck past Talbot.

The Blackhawks got the ball rolling in the final frame on the power play. With all four Kings penalty killers on the left side of the ice, a simple reversal to Johnson near the right point allowed him to glide forward into the faceoff circle for a shot inside the far post.

After heading into the first intermission trailing, the Kings stacked up three second-period goals to tilt the game in their favor.

Moore stretched the lead to 3-1 with 2:36 left after Jarred Tinordi fell in a heap and into a heap of trouble behind his own net. Danault pounced, moving the puck quickly in front to Arvidsson, who sent it across to Moore for his team-leading 31st goal of the season.

The Kings got their first lead of the night and Byfield got his first point in 10 games and his first goal in 20. It was one that earned him a $212,500 bonus to boot as it was his 20th of the season. During a power play, Danault heaved the puck from the outside of the left circle to the far post, where Byfield had position on Seth Jones for a redirection tally.

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Chicago appeared to reclaim the lead with 7:45 showing on the clock but Jason Dickson’s would-be short-handed goal was nullified on review after it was determined he redirected the puck with a distinct kicking motion.

The Kings drew even 4:37 into the second period. Trevor Moore turned the puck in from the offensive blue line down below the goal line, where Danault skated it down after knocking the stick out of Dickinson’s hands. Danault circled the back of the net and weaved into the slot, where he found Arvidsson for a one-timer below the left faceoff dot that hit Söderblom before squeaking through him. It was the Swede-on-Swede crime for Arvidsson’s fifth goal of an injury-plagued campaign

After mounting an 11-3 advantage in shots on goal, the Kings gave up the evening’s first score just the same when lead feet turned into flat feet for the uncommon defensive pairing of Andreas Englund and Jacob Moverare. The Kings won a faceoff but bobbled the puck, at which point Reichel darted ahead, lobbed the puck between the two lumbering defenders and split them to dart off on a breakaway that he finished with a bit of hesitation before putting the puck away off his backhand.

More to come on this story.

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