LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Columbus Blue Jackets hit the Kings with the full force of their five-game winning streak and playoff desperation in the third period.
Jonathan Quick turned it all aside and kept Los Angeles rolling toward its own postseason goals.
Quick made 20 saves, Kyle Clifford scored the tiebreaking goal and the defending Stanley Cup champions slowed the Blue Jackets' late-season surge with a 2-1 victory Thursday night.
Drew Doughty scored an early power-play goal as the Kings kept pace with San Jose for fourth place in the Western Conference by snapping Columbus' streak one shy of the franchise record in a defense-dominated game.
While Columbus had more fury in the scoreless third period, the Kings methodically stayed out of trouble in their fifth win in eight games. With four games left in their seasons, the Kings and Sharks are both five points behind Anaheim, which has a game in hand atop the Pacific Division standings.
"Things are rounding into form," Quick said. "We haven't got in the playoffs yet, so we've got to keep playing like this. They're one of the hotter teams in the league. They've beaten good teams, and we knew they were going to bring a lot of grit, a lot of energy to the game."
The Kings got a defensive boost from Matt Greene, who returned to the lineup for the first time since Jan. 19 after missing 42 games with a back injury. The veteran defenseman was hurt in the Kings' season opener and underwent surgery, but returned in time to get in game shape for the postseason.
"That's the best way to get back into it — in a playoff atmosphere," Greene said. "They're battling for points, but we are, too. We're still looking for home ice. We've got to keep eating up points and go into the playoffs playing well."
Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 21 shots and Dalton Prout scored his first NHL goal for the eighth-place Blue Jackets, who lost for the first time in four stops on their six-game trip.
The Blue Jackets' remarkable rally finally hit a snag in the form of Los Angeles' Conn Smythe Trophy-winning goalie and his sturdy defense, but they've still got a solid playoff shot for a team that was last in the NHL on Feb. 25. Columbus is on a 16-5-5 roll since then, including five wins in seven road games.
The Blue Jackets beat Anaheim in overtime one night earlier to move clear of Detroit for eighth place in the West. The Red Wings and Dallas both trail Columbus by two points with two games in hand on the Blue Jackets, who have just three games left in their season.
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