Winnipeg Jets rally from 3 goals down to stun LA Kings 4-3
LOS ANGELES (AP) The Los Angeles Kings had a 3-0 lead late in the second period and a boisterous home crowd eager to celebrate the second division title in franchise history.
The party got canceled in rather stunning fashion by the Winnipeg Jets.
Instead of rolling into the postseason, the Kings must to wait another day to learn whether they can hang a banner, and where they're starting their Stanley Cup quest.
Mark Scheifele scored the only shootout goal, and the Jets rallied in their season finale for a 4-3 victory over the Kings on Saturday night.
Blake Wheeler scored the tying goal on a pass from Scheifele, and the Jets closed another non-playoff season with their fourth straight victory over playoff teams, including a clean sweep of California.
''I think it's great to end on a positive note, especially the way this year has gone,'' Wheeler said. ''It almost is kind of bittersweet, because you scratch your head and say, `Where has this been all year?' I think we're pleased with the results we've gotten recently, and just how we've played down the stretch.''
Winnipeg put the Pacific race in the hands of the Anaheim Ducks, who can win their fourth straight division title with a victory in Washington on Sunday. Los Angeles has 102 points and the tiebreaker edge over the Ducks, who have 101 points after beating Colorado earlier Saturday.
The Pacific winner faces Nashville in the first round of the postseason, while the second-place finisher hosts San Jose.
''The frustrating part is that we didn't get the job done tonight,'' Kings center Anze Kopitar said. ''We certainly had every opportunity to win the division, and the bottom line is that we didn't do it.''
Jonathan Quick made 27 saves for the Kings, who could have clinched their first and only division title since the 1990-91 Smythe crown.
After the Kings followed up two Stanley Cup titles and 10 playoff series victories over three seasons by missing the playoffs entirely last spring, they set regular-season success as a goal. They've been in first place for most of the past several months, but the division might get away because of a dismal loss that they couldn't entirely explain afterward.
''We were good for the first half, and then I don't know what happened,'' Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin said. ''Maybe we thought the game was over. It's frustrating we didn't finish that game out.''
The Kings' only previous division title was won by Wayne Gretzky's 1991 club. Among the NHL's 16 oldest teams, only Toronto and Los Angeles have won just one division title since the Second Six expansion in 1967.
Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson and Andy Andreoff scored early goals for the Kings, but they needed just 6:15 to blow their 3-0 lead.
Andrew Copp and Nikolaj Ehlers scored in the second period before Wheeler tied it for the last-place Jets, who have missed the playoffs four times in five years since the Atlanta Thrashers moved north.
''I think it says a lot about the kind of guys we have,'' Wheeler said. ''Vacation is getting pretty close, you're down 3-0 against a team like that, it's easy to fold up.''
The Kings killed a penalty in overtime before Quick made a spectacular diving arm save on Ben Chiarot's point-blank shot with 2 seconds left to force a shootout. But Scheifele was the only shootout scorer, with Ondrej Pavelec adding three stops to his 26 saves.
''I don't think you can be too excited about it because we are where we are,'' Pavelec said. ''It's not the situation we wanted it to be.''
Toffoli put the Kings ahead with his 31st goal midway through the first period, and Pearson roared down the wing to score just over four minutes later. The Kings seemed safe when Andreoff got his eighth goal in the second period, banking it in off Paul Postma's skate.
But the Jets came flying back with an aggressive, carefree style. Copp scored his third goal in four games, and Ehlers added his 15th with 40 seconds left. Wheeler then picked up his 26th goal.
NOTES: Kopitar finished with 74 points, officially leading the Kings in scoring for the ninth consecutive season. ... The Kings sold out Staples Center for every game this season, extending their sellout streak to 202 games, including the postseason. ... Los Angeles C Jeff Carter tied his career high with his 38th assist, and Milan Lucic tied his career high with his 35th assist.