Dustin Brown notched a hat-trick to lead Los Angeles to an 8-3 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday, moving the Kings closer to their first playoff berth since 2002.
The Kings roared to a 5-0 lead midway through the second period before the Canucks got on the board, sparked by a big night from Brown.
“We had the right kind of attitude in the first period,” Kings coach Terry Murray told reporters. “[We] got some good play and to be able to look up and see the 3-0 score felt good, but you’re not comfortable with it.”
Alexander Frolov opened the scoring in the first before goals from Anze Kopitar and Brown opened up a 3-0 lead for the Kings, who are seventh in the Western Conference and trail Detroit by just one point.
LA padded their lead through Jarret Stoll and Brown’s second of the game but Vancouver hit back through Kyle Wellwood and Ryan Kesler to give the Canucks hope at 5-2 heading into the third.
Brown completed his hat-trick in the final period before Wellwood recorded his second of the night a minute later. Goals from the Kings’ Justin Williams and Michal Handzus completed the rout.
“If you started every year asking me if I’d like 30 or 40 goals and be done with my season in April, or have 10 goals and be in the playoffs every year, I’d take the 10 goals,” Brown said. “Everyone likes to score goals, but I’ll take winning over anything.”
Young LA goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 27 saves as he started in place of Jonathan Quick for a second straight win.
The Canucks remained third in the West by virtue of leading the Northwest Division.
Capitals 2, Thrashers 1
At Washington, Matt Bradley broke a third-period deadlock with his first goal in 2.5 months as the Capitals ended a three-game losing streak, delivering a blow to Atlanta’s playoff hopes.
Bradley gathered the puck in the right corner and skated in to put a backhander between Ondrej Pavelec’s legs with 10:14 remaining.
It was Bradley’s ninth goal of the season and first since Jan. 19.
In a possible preview of a first-round Eastern Conference playoff series, the Capitals put aside of week of spotty play and moved closer to clinching the league’s best overall record.
Nicklas Backstrom scored his 30th goal, Alex Ovechkin had an assist for his 102nd point, and Semyon Varlamov made 19 saves.
Senators 4, Hurricanes 3, SO
At Ottawa, Alex Kovalev and Jason Spezza scored in a shootout to cap Ottawa’s dramatic victory after they clinched a playoff spot in regulation.
Erik Karlsson scored the equalizer, his second of the game, with 7.7 seconds remaining in regulation. That assured Ottawa of at least one standings point, clinching the playoff spot.
Brian Elliott made 28 saves, and Anton Volchenkov also scored for Ottawa, which won its sixth straight.
Red Wings 3, Blue Jackets 2
At Detroit, Tomas Holmstrom and Pavel Datsyuk each had a goal and an assist for Detroit in the Red Wings’ season-high seventh straight victory.
Todd Bertuzzi also scored, and Jimmy Howard made 20 saves for Detroit
Andrew Murray and R.J. Umberger scored for Columbus.
Panthers 1, Bruins 0
At Boston, Scott Clemmensen stopped 36 shots for his fifth career shutout and Keith Ballard scored as Florida beat Boston to prevent the Bruins from getting comfortable in the Eastern Conference playoff race.
In other NHL action it was:
• Predators 3, Blues 2
• Islanders 6, Flyers 4
• Maple Leafs 4, Sabres 2
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