Kings nip Knights as NHL playoff matchups are set

League: NHL

Posted on: 19 Apr, 2024 at 05:42 AM

Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Kings overtook the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights for third place in the Pacific Division on Thursday as the NHL regular season concluded and first-round playoff matchups were confirmed.

The Golden Knights (45-29-8, 98 points) could have sealed third in division with a win over the long-eliminated Anaheim, but the Ducks emerged with a 4-1 victory at Las Vegas.

That gave the Kings a chance to move up, and they took advantage by rallying for a 5-4 overtime win against the visiting Chicago Blackhawks. Los Angeles, needing just one point to move past Vegas, trailed Chicago 4-3 before Viktor Arvidsson scored on a power play with 1:21 to go.

Once the game went to OT, the Kings were assured of third place in the Pacific. However, they ended their night on a high note when Adrian Kempe scored six seconds into the extra session, tying for the fastest overtime goal in NHL history.

The results set up Los Angeles for a first-round postseason series against the Pacific's second-place team, the Edmonton Oilers (49-27-6, 104 points). The teams are meeting in the opening round of the playoffs for the third season in a row, after Edmonton eliminated Los Angeles in both 2022 and 2023.

The Golden Knights will go up against the West's No. 1 seed, the Central Division champion Dallas Stars (52-21-9, 113 points), in a rematch of last season's conference finals. Vegas downed Dallas in six games last year en route to winning its first Stanley Cup.

The Pacific champion Vancouver Canucks (50-23-9, 109 points) will square off with the Nashville Predators (47-30-5, 99 points). The matchup of the second- and third-place teams in the Central will feature the Winnipeg Jets (52-24-6, 110 points) and the Colorado Avalanche (50-25-7, 107 points).

The Presidents' Trophy-winning, the New York Rangers (55-23-4, 114 points), will oppose the Washington Capitals (40-31-11, 91 points) in an all- Metropolitan Division matchup. The Carolina Hurricanes (52-23-7, 111 points), who came in second in the Metro, will face the division's third-place team, the New York Islanders (39-27-16, 94 points).

The Florida Panthers (52-24-6, 110 points) won their last four games to steal first place in the Atlantic Division from the Boston Bruins (47-20-15, 109 points). Florida will open the playoffs against the Tampa Bay Lightning (45-29-8, 98 points) in an intrastate clash, while Boston will meet the Toronto Maple Leafs (46-26-10, 102 points).

Game 1 of the Islanders-Hurricanes and Maple Leafs-Bruins series will open the Stanley Cup playoffs on Saturday. The Lightning-Panthers, Capitals-Rangers, Avalanche-Jets and Predators-Canucks series begin on Sunday, with the Golden Knights-Stars and Kings-Oilers matchups starting on Monday.

--Field Level Media