Kings lose to Wild, jeopardizing their chances of finishing third in the Pacific

The Kings lost a game they needed to win Monday, falling to the Minnesota Wild 3-1 to muddy the team’s playoff picture with a game left in the regular season.

The loss, the Kings’ first at home in nine games, leaves them with just a one-point lead over Las Vegas for third place in the Pacific Division. If the Golden Knights, who have two games left, win out, the Kings would be left with the Western Conference’s second wild-card spot and a first-round playoff match-up with the conference’s top-seeded team.

At the moment that team is the Dallas Stars, one the Kings haven’t beaten three tries this season.

The Kings (43-27-11) started Monday in control of their own fate: win their last two games and they would finish third, giving them a chance at home-ice advantage if they survived a likely first-round series with the Edmonton Oilers. The Kings’ path forward is now much more challenging after losing to the Wild (39-33-9) for the first time this season.

The Kings also entered Monday with the NHL’s best home record since the All-Star break and the league’s top penalty kill at home. Both those marks took a beating in a poor first period when Matt Boldy scored on the power play.

With Alex Laferriere in the box for interference, Boldy took the puck from Marco Rossi at the blue line, fought his way past defenseman Matt Roy at the top of the slot, then pushed a shot through the legs of Kings goalie Cam Talbot with from just outside the crease for his 29th goal of the season.

Ryan Hartman doubled the advantage with five seconds left in the second period, finishing a two-on-one break with a wrist shot from the bottom of the right face-off circle for his 21st goal.

Kirill Kaprizov made the goal happen, dekeing with the puck, then slipping a pass to Hartman to pick up his 50th assist of the season.

Kaprizov then made it 3-0 at 8:25 of the third period, deflecting a shot from behind the goal line off Talbot’s back and into the net for his 45th goal and 95th point of the season.

Blake Lizotte got the Kings on the board with less than five minutes to play, scoring on a wrist shot from the top of the slot.

Talbot stopped 25 shots and Minnesota goaltender Filip Gustavsson made 23 saves.

The Kings did get some good news with captain Anze Kopitar’s return. He missed Saturday’s win over the Ducks with a minor injury. It was just the second game he has missed since the 2020-2021 season.

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