LA Kings beat Sharks 3-2, finish 5th in West

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 28, 2013 at 1:08 am •  Published: April 28, 2013

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When the St. Louis Blues won their season finale around the time Los Angeles and San Jose dropped the puck, the Kings and Sharks knew they were only playing for fifth place.

The Kings still played hard enough to head into their Stanley Cup defense with one more win.

Justin Williams scored in the third period, Jonathan Quick made 23 saves, and the Kings wrapped up the fifth playoff seed in the Western Conference with a 3-2 victory Saturday night.

Slava Voynov and Kyle Clifford also scored for the reigning NHL champions, who entered the regular-season finale in a fifth-place tie with the Sharks. Both teams had hoped to earn home-ice advantage in the first round, but the surging Blues didn't stumble against Chicago.

So the Kings are headed to St. Louis, which sneaked past Los Angeles and San Jose in the last week. Los Angeles plans to fly to Missouri on Sunday, anticipating a Tuesday opener even before the NHL releases its playoff schedule.

"I think tonight was, I guess, a pretty good finish to the regular season," said Anze Kopitar, who heads into the postseason with a 16-game goal drought. "We played a pretty solid game, and against a pretty good team, too, so we're going to have to carry that over. Of course, there's room for improvement, but we're going to have to carry that work ethic right into Tuesday's game."

T.J. Galiardi and Logan Couture scored for the Sharks, who will begin their ninth consecutive playoff appearance at third-seeded Vancouver after losing three of their final four. Antti Niemi stopped 24 shots for the Sharks, who realized they had more to lose by picking up new injuries than by getting beaten at Staples Center.

"You want to win every game you play, but you don't want to get hurt," Sharks captain Joe Thornton said. "They were better than us, and now we know who we're going to play."

Although San Jose kept it close on Galiardi's goal with 2:26 to play, Quick showed off his Conn Smythe Trophy form with a few sharp saves in the final minutes. Brad Richardson had two assists for the Kings, who played without suspended captain Dustin Brown.

"That's just how we play the game," Quick said. "We weren't really worried about the result tonight. We wanted to just play a good game. ... We weren't really focused on the result as much as we were (on) how we played during the 60 minutes."

Although home ice meant little to the Kings last season when they became the first eighth-seeded team to take home the NHL title, they finished the regular season with seven straight home wins since March 23.

"We had a great season, to be quite honest," Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter said.