You could almost feel it coming. The Los Angeles Kings were heavily outshooting the Vancouver Canucks but trailing 2-1 late in the third period. If the defending Stanley Cup champions were going to pull off a win, something had to happen soon.
And it did, as it has so many times before.
The Kings scored two goals in the last 2:07 of the game (and 53 seconds apart) to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, dropping the Canucks 3-2 in Vancouver.
Then it was veteran third-line center Jarret Stoll who put the game away, firing a slapshot through Miller from the right faceoff dot with 1:14 left.
The Canucks were suddenly trailing in a game they led for 45 minutes of play, and they simply didn’t have the time to tie it up.
The Kings led for 1 minute and 14 seconds, and that’s all it took.
Watch the video to see how quickly Ryan Miller’s world comes crashing down.
L.A. has made a habit of flipping the switch when it matters most, from their 2012 Stanley Cup win as the eighth-seeded team in the West, to their 2014 comeback from a 3-0 series deficit against San Jose in the first round. It’s uncanny how quickly they can turn their game around and win in the clutch.
The Kings aren’t in a clutch situation in the standings right now, but Thursday was still an important win as they approach the midway point in the season. They’ve flirted with a wild card slot most of the year, but they’ve got a lot of competition in the standings.
They entered Thursday outside the playoff picture and ended the night in second place in the Pacific Division, leapfrogging Vancouver, San Jose, Calgary and Winnipeg, who are all tied with 45 points. The Kings have 46 points.
There likely won’t be enough room for the Kings, Sharks, Flames, Jets and Canucks in the playoffs this year, but if L.A. continues to win the games that matter, it should have no problem making the post-season dance.
And while Voynov’s legal woes have been an occasional distraction this regular season, you’ve got to believe these Kings will get back to business with or without him in the playoffs.
The Kings always take care of business when it matters most.