Winnipeg – The Jets two game California road trip did not get off to a positive start. The NHL’s second worst penalty killing unit reared it’s ugly head in a 5-2 loss to the LA Kings on Thursday Night at Staples Centre.
The “desperate” Kings went 3 for 4 with the extra skater, including a pair of early third period power play goals less than two minutes apart from Marion Gaborik and Drew Doughty to snap a 2-2 tie. Tanner Pearson finished off the three goal, final frame with a two on one shorthanded goal for the 35-31-7 Kings who remained 8 points behind Nashville for the #2 Wild Card berth in the Western Conference. The Predators defeated Calgary 3-1 earlier in the night.
The 33-34-7 Jets saw their “tragic” number reduced to 2 for officially missing the playoffs for the fifth time in six years. So there is a chance they could now be mathematically eliminated this weekend as the Jets play in Anaheim tonight and then return home to host Vancouver on Sunday, while Nashville is at home to San Jose on Saturday.
Winnipeg’s Mathieu Perreault opened the scoring with his 10th goal of the season, and after LA Captain Anze Kopitar tied it up with the Kings’ first power play goal of the night, Patrik Laine regained the rookie goal scoring lead with his 34th of the season. His rebound off the end boards hit Ben Bishop and went in to the LA net for a 2-1 Jets lead after 20 minutes.
Kings Defenceman Jake Muzzin scored the lone goal of the second period- just under four minutes before the intermission.
Connor Hellebuyck faced 36 shots in taking the loss, after having his string of 16 consecutive starts end on Tuesday Night. Minute munching Defenceman Dustin Byfuglien appeared to be injured when he blocked a shot late in the game, so his status for tonight in Anaheim could be questionable.