Kings slide by Blackhawks, to play Oilers in 1st round

Brandon Lawless - The Sporting Tribune
The Los Angeles Kings won in overtime against the Blackhawks. They will face the Oilers in Game 1 on Monday night.

LOS ANGELES — The Kings needed an overtime goal by Adrian Kempe to earn a third-place finish in the Pacific Division and a 5-4 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks at Crypto.com Arena on Thursday night.

The win sets up a first-round Stanley Cup Playoffs series with the Edmonton Oilers. Game 1 is scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday in Edmonton. In turn, it forced the Vegas Golden Knights to qualify for the playoffs in the final wild-card spot and a first-round series with the Dallas Stars.

The Blackhawks failed to make the postseason for the fourth straight season and lost six games in a row. Kings’ Anze Kopitar, who had to sit out against Anaheim last week because of minor injuries, played in the season finale.

Kempe scored six seconds into overtime, stemming a Blackhawks rally that had erased a 3-1 lead entering the third period.

Kings coach Jim Hiller said earlier this week he wanted to treat Thursday’s game as a must-win opportunity against the second worst team in the league. The Kings didn’t seem to get the memo as they went scoreless despite 14 shots on goal.

With just 4:21 left in the first period, Blackhawks’ Lukas Reichel scored an unassisted goal.

Los Angeles then scored the next three goals during the second period on shots by Viktor Arvidsson, Quinton Byfield (power play) and Trevor Moore.

However, the Blackhawks roared back in the third period, scoring on three consecutive shots by Tyler Johnson (power play) Joey Anderson and Ryan Donato for a 4-3 lead.

“It’s hard not to think about the whole picture, I guess,” Kopitar said. “We knew what the score was going out for the third period. Didn’t plan on going down one goal but I guess we got the job done in the end, and we’re going back to Edmonto.”

Arvidsson’s second goal with 81 seconds to play forced the overtime and set the stage for Kempe’s game-winner.

Hiller said he has concerns about facing Edmonton in the playoffs for the third straight season.

“We are just excited to make the playoffs and go play whoever we were going to play,” he said. “It could’ve been a different team, were just excited.

“We just wanna get going and we’re excited, we’re really excited.”