LOS ANGELES – Mark Scheifele scored in the shootout and the Winnipeg Jets came back from a three-goal deficit to stun the Los Angeles Kings, 4-3 (SO), in the season finale at Staples Center on Saturday.
The game got off to a promising start as the Kings scored three unanswered goals to jump out to a commanding 3-0 lead, but everything turned on a dime midway through the second period, and the Kings collapsed, allowing three unanswered goals by Winnipeg to send the game to overtime.
"We had the start we wanted, but for whatever reason we stopped playing," said Kings assistant captain Anze Kopitar. "We had a bunch of turnovers that resulted in Winnipeg goals. Our start was good, but the second and third periods were not."
Tyler Toffoli opened the scoring midway through the first period thanks to a perfectly placed pass by center Jeff Carter. Carter weaved his way in and out of traffic in front of the net, grabbing the attention of goalie, Ondrej Pavelec, before dishing it off to Toffoli for the wide-open goal.
Minutes later, it was Tanner Pearson on the break away who beat Pavelec to his left as he raced down the ice. Pearson received a cross-ice pass from Milan Lucic and beat every Jets defender down the ice for the game's second goal. It was Lucic's career-high 35th assist.
Andy Andreoff gave the Kings a 3-0 lead with his eighth goal of the season in the second period.
Winnipeg finally got on the scoreboard when Andrew Copp caught a pass from Nic Petan in front of the net for the Jets first goal.
A minute later, Nikolaj Ehlers notched his 15th goal of the season when he drilled a one-timer past Quick's glove side to cut the lead to 3-2.
Forward, Blake Wheeler, set Ehlers up for the goal, his team-high 52nd assist on the season.
Wheeler followed up his assist with his 26th goal of the season to open the third period. Wheeler bobbled the puck as he skated toward the crease, but got just enough on his shot to slip it past Quick's left for the game-tying goal.
The game would head to overtime where the Kings were called for a holding penalty putting them at a man disadvantage for two of the the final three minutes. Somehow, L.A. survived the extra frame and sent the game to a shootout.
Pavelec stoned all three shot takers for the Kings, and Schiefele scored on Quick to give Winnipeg the win.
With the overtime loss, the Kings earn an ever-important point in their quest for the franchise's second Pacific Division title. L.A. will now wait for the outcome between the Ducks and Capitals tomorrow night to see who wins the Division.
"The frustrating part was we did not get the job done tonight," added Kopitar. "We had every opportunity to win the division and the bottom line is we didn't."
A Ducks win, and the Kings will finish second in the Pacific and host the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the NHL Playoffs next week. A Duck's loss in regulation or overtime, and the Kings will win the Pacific and host the Nashville Predators.
"Tomorrow we're going to find out what team we're playing and we've got to get ready for them," Kopitar concluded. "The NHL playoffs are a different chapter and you have to start from scracth. We'll be ready to go."
Players of the Game:
Blake Wheeler: Goal and an assist.
Tyler Toffoli: 31st goal of the season.
Mark Scheifele: Game-winning goal in shootout.
1. View From the Pacific: The Los Angeles Kings could have locked up their second Pacific Division title in franchise history on Saturday, but the three-goal collapse put a corkscrew in that plan. The Kings will now have to await the outcome of the Sunday night game between the Anaheim Ducks and the Washington Capitals. The math is simple: Ducks win, and the win the division. Ducks lose and Kings win their first division title since 1991.
2. Bring Back, Bob: Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Miller was at Staples Center on Saturday and sat down to talk to Fox Sports West as he continues his recovery from open-heart surgery earlier in the year. Bob encouraged the Kings to win the Cup this year and said he'll be back behind the mic next season.
3. Participation Trophies: The Los Angeles Kings announced their 2015-2016 team awards as voted on by the media and the players themselves. Anze Kopitar won team MVP, Milan Lucic won Best Newcomer, Drew Doughty won the most Oustanding Defenseman, and Jonathan Quick won Defensive Player. Vincent LeCavalier won the team's Most Inspirational and Trevor Lewis was the Unsung Hero.
Jets (35-39-8): The season ends for Winnipeg as they join the other six Canadian teams to miss out on the NHL playoffs in 2016.
Kings (48-28-6): Los Angeles awaits the Nashville Predators as they host the first round of the NHL Playoffs next Thursday at Staples Center.
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