Blue Jackets vs Kings – Game Recap – April 16, 2022

LOS ANGELES – – Phillip Danault scored his career-high 24th goal, Dustin Brown also scored in the first period and the Los Angeles Kings took a big step toward a playoff berth with a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night.

Jonathan Quick made 21 saves for the third-placed Kings in their second win in just six games. The Kings couldn’t find the net after their two first-period goals despite shooting out quicker than the Jackets 38-22, but their lead held in a tight game.

Kings coach Todd McLellan was pleased with his team’s return to prime defensive form after a 9-3 loss at Colorado on Wednesday. Los Angeles blocked 26 shots, a season high.

“I felt a lot more like it should be for our group,” McLellan said. “We are not a high scoring team. We’re comfortable in one-goal games, tight games, so it felt like we were playing the type of game we had to play. … This evening was much more familiar to our group.

Los Angeles is experiencing a three-year playoff drought, but its chances of holding Vegas for third place in the Pacific Division playoffs improved earlier Saturday with Edmonton’s victory over fourth-placed Vegas.

“This time of year we will celebrate a win in any way we can,” McLellan said. “Ugly, from behind, some of them you might not even deserve, but we need them and we’ll take them any way we can to get them.”

By beating Columbus in the evening, the Kings opened a three-point lead over the Golden Knights, who are one game short. Los Angeles’ last five games have all been against teams currently excluded from the playoffs.

“Obviously, the last game, we weren’t satisfied, not happy,” said Danault. “So we had to bounce back, which we did right away in the game. Two big points, and every game is going to be big until the end, so it’s do or die.

Sean Kuraly scored in the second period and Elvis Merzlikins stopped 36 shots for the Blue Jackets, who began their three-game road trip in California losing in regulation for only the second time in six games.

“The focus in this game was going to be a team that was desperate and coming out strong, and it wasn’t like that was a surprise to us,” Kuraly said. “So I guess that’s the frustrating part. I just gave them a few we’d like to get back, and Elvis kept us in them all night.”

The Jackets were officially knocked out of the playoffs earlier in the day with Washington’s 8-4 win over Montreal. Columbus has missed the playoffs in two consecutive seasons after winning four consecutive playoff berths.

Brown scored just 1:41 into the opening faceoff, converting a pass from Blake Lizotte on a 2-on-1 run. The former Los Angeles captain hadn’t scored a goal since March 6, shortly after. long before missing 14 games in a month out through injury.

Danault doubled the Kings’ lead later in the first with a fine setup from Viktor Arvidsson. The goal was Danault’s ninth point in nine games.

“They’re not giving up much,” Columbus coach Brad Larsen said. “This team, they’re a really stingy team, so you have to fight for your ice, and you knew you were going to give your best. That’s pretty much a must win for this team. So I thought than us it has improved a bit, and it is a good experience for us.

Kuraly cut LA’s lead early in the second when Ohio native Carson Meyer raised a set-up pass behind the net over Quick and directly onto Kuraly’s stick for a goal on the return of the center after a two-game injury absence.

“I saw it in the slot, but I was trying to blame it on Jonathan Quick and trying to score myself,” said Meyer, who has three points in his first six games in the the NHL. “But it worked. I should have known he was going online anyway. He still is.

Andreas Athanasiou returned from a 17-game absence since mid-March with an upper-body injury for the Kings.

NEXT

Blue Jackets: At Ducks on Sunday.

Kings: At the Ducks on Tuesday.

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