For the better part of five thrilling minutes in overtime, it was as if the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks were battling each other again in the 2013 and 2014 Western Conference Finals.
But when Drew Doughty’s shot hit the back of the net, the Kings were another team set to miss the playoffs, having done their best to make sure the Blackhawks join them as spectators.
Doughty scored a power-play goal with 11.6 seconds remaining in overtime and the Kings defeated the Blackhawks 3-2 on Saturday night.
Michael Amadio and Austin Wagner each had a goal in regulation, and Jack Campbell made 33 saves for the Kings.
“I think we just all played together,” said Doughty, who buried a slap shot at 4:48 after Jonathan Toews was whistled for holding Anze Kopitar in a frantic overtime that featured quality scoring chances for both teams. “We didn’t give up. Our fourth line got us two big goals, too, and you can’t overwrite that.”
Erik Gustafsson and Alex DeBrincat scored for the Blackhawks, who pulled within six points of Colorado for the second wild card in the Western Conference with four games remaining. Corey Crawford made 26 saves.
Chicago went 0-1-2 in the three-game season series against Los Angeles.
“You build a body of work over the season and we put ourselves in a pretty big hole,” Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said. “And we’ve played well for a long stretch that allowed us to be in the race, but it’s still pretty disappointing when, obviously, that’s as far as it gets right now.”
Amadio tied it at 2 at 15:05 of the third with a wrist shot from the high slot after the Blackhawks went back in front 2-1 at 3:09 of the period on a slap shot from the blue line by Gustafsson.
Amadio was alone in the slot to score his fifth goal but only after an unmarked Alec Martinez could not get his stick on Kyle Clifford’s centering pass from the edge of the crease, the kind of breakdowns that kept the Blackhawks from securing the vital second point.
“You never know when a game’s on the line,” Colliton said. “The game is always on the line, and if you let down for 5, 10 seconds and get loose or soft or not sharp, you get punished. So that’s kind of what happened, even though we did a lot of good things. It don’t matter if you don’t put it all together.”
DeBrincat gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead 1:38 into the second period by scoring for the third time in two games. DeBrincat wanted to chip the puck over to Patrick Kane on the rush, but Martinez’s attempt at a breakup sent the puck right back to DeBrincat at the near post for his 41st goal of the season.
Wagner tied it at 1 at 16:05, showing off his speed by racing past Blackhawks defensemen Carl Dahlstrom and Connor Murphy for a breakaway and burying a wrist shot into the top netting. The elusive rookie has been one of the bright spots in a disappointing season for Los Angeles, netting his 12th goal and scoring for the second straight game.
“The speed is such a big part of the game, and every once in a while he just takes off and he makes something out of nothing,” Kings coach Willie Desjardins said. “He’s come a long way from the start of the year. Start of the year, looked like he’s been playing in the American League, and when he got his chance up here he’s played well.”
NOTES: Blackhawks C David Kampf did not return after being struck in the face by a puck while killing a penalty in the first period. … Blackhawks F Drake Caggiula played for the first time since suffering a concussion on Feb. 27 that caused him to miss 13 games. … Kings F Ilya Kovalchuk was a healthy scratch for the sixth straight game. Coach Willie Desjardins expects Kovalchuk will play during the final four games of the season.
Blackhawks: Visit the Winnipeg Jets on Monday night.
Kings: Host the Calgary Flames on Monday night.
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