Kings defeat Blackhawks in overtime thriller, will face Oilers again in playoffs

The Los Angeles Kings celebrate after right wing Adrian Kempe scored during overtime.

The Kings clinched a playoff berth more than a week ago. But it wasn’t until the horn sounded Thursday on their last regular-season game that they finally found out who they’ll be playing and where.

The answer to both questions is Edmonton, and for that the Kings have Viktor Arvidsson to thank, with his two goals getting them to overtime in a 5-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks.

Adrian Kempe scored the winning goal six seconds into the extra period, tying the NHL record for fastest overtime tally and rescuing the Kings after they blew a two-goal lead in the third period.

The Kings will open the playoffs Monday in Edmonton (7 p.m. PDT, ESPN2) against the team that ended their last two seasons in the first round of the playoffs. Game 2 will be played Wednesday in Edmonton before the series comes to Arena on April 26 and 28.

“We got it done, right?” Kings interim coach Jim Hiller asked.

Just barely.

With the Ducks knocking off the Golden Knights on Thursday, all the Kings needed to slip past the reigning Stanley Cup champions and claim the third spot in the Pacific Division was one point. And they ended up achieving that shortly after Arvidsson scored a power-play goal with 1:21 left in regulation.

That erased an epic third-period collapse that saw the Kings give up three unanswered goals in a five-minute span early in the third period, turning a two-goal advantage into a 4-3 deficit.

The Kings' first three goals, all in the second period, came from Arvidsson, Quinton Byfield and Trevor Moore. Phillip Danault picked up assists on each.

Now the Kings get a rematch with Edmonton, who beat them three times in four games this season and eliminated them in the opening round of the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. The teams have met nine times in the postseason with the Kings' last series win coming in 1989, Wayne Gretzky’s first season in Los Angeles.

“We definitely want to beat them now,” Byfield, whose second-period goal was his 20th of the season, said of the Oilers. “I think we owe them. But they're a really good team. They had a lot of great pieces so they're gonna be tough for sure.”

Added Hiller, who took over as coach when Todd McLellan was fired in February, leading the Kings to a 20-12-2 finish. “We've got a short history with them. But we're just excited to make the playoffs and to go play whoever we were going to play.”

The Kings will head to Canada riding a wave of momentum, having won 10 of their last 15 regular-season games. But eight of those 10 wins came at home; the Kings have lost three of their last four on the road.

The Blackhawks, despite being outshot 14-4 in the opening period, opened the scoring off a faceoff in the Chicago end. Lukas Reichel took control of the loose puck, broke between Kings defensemen Andres Englund and Jacob Moverare, then slipped a backhander between goaltender Cam Talbot and the right post for his fifth goal of the season less than five minutes before the first intermission.

Arvidsson matched that 4:37 into the second period, one-timing in a pass from Danault from the left circle.

Read more: Analysis: As Kings shift focus to another challenging playoff series, Ducks search for answers

The Blackhawks appeared to go back in front at 12:12 of the period on a short-handed goal from Jason Dickinson. After Arvidsson lost the puck in the Blackhawks' end, triggering a two-on-one breakaway, Dickinson knocked in the rebound of his own shot. But after a video review, the officials ruled that Dickinson had deflected the puck with his skate and erased the goal.

The Kings needed just four minutes to take advantage, with Byfield putting them ahead on the power play. Eighty seconds later, Moore made it 3-1.

Tyler Johnson started the Chicago comeback 1:26 into the third, beating Talbot with a snap shot from the middle of the right circle for his 17th goal. Landon Slaggert set up the tying goal, taking the puck from Kings captain Anze Kopitar along the boards and feeding Joey Anderson, who scored his fifth of the season on a backhander.

Ryan Donato then put the Blackhawks ahead on a tip-in goal with 13:32 to play.

But Chicago, which finished the season losing six straight, couldn’t protect its lead. After the Kings pulled Talbot for an extra skater, Philipp Kurashev went to the penalty box for delay of game after knocking the puck over the glass, giving the Kings a two-skater advantage. Arvidsson scored 21 seconds later.

Kempe, who earlier in the day was voted the Kings’ most valuable player, then sealed the Kings win in overtime with his 28th goal of the season.

For Arvidsson, the wild finish wasn’t a collapse but a gut check for the Kings.

“I think we showed character,” he said. “We settled down and kind of regrouped and went after it again. So I don't think we need to worry about that.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.