VANCOUVER — Alex Iafallo had two goals and the L.A. Kings clinched a playoff spot with a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday.
Arthur Kaliyev and Blake Lizzote — into an empty net — each scored and contributed a helper for the Kings (45-22-10), who were coming off a 3-1 win over the Seattle Kraken on Saturday. Anze Kopitar registered a pair of assists.
Brock Boeser recorded the lone goal for the Canucks (34-35-7) early in the first period.
L.A.’s Joonas Korpisalo made 21 saves and Thatcher Demko stopped 21-of-23 shots for Vancouver.
The Canucks were mathematically eliminated from post-season contention earlier in the night when the Winnipeg Jets routed the New Jersey Devils 6-1.
Vancouver has now missed the playoffs for three straight years, and in seven of the last eight NHL seasons.
The Canucks pulled Demko with 2:31 left on the game clock in favour of an extra attacker, but couldn’t claw their way back into the game.
Instead, Lizotte collected a pass from Kaliyev and sent an easy shot into the empty net with 49 seconds to go.
Kaliyev made it 3-1, batting a rebound into the top corner of the Vancouver net from the hash marks for his 12th goal of the season 13:36 into the third period.
The Canucks had a prime opportunity to tie the game at 2-2 earlier in the final frame when Viktor Arvidsson was called for slashing.
Andrei Kuzmenko lined up a shot in front of the Kings’ net, but Iafallo got a stick in his path, sending the puck up and into the netting.
Iafallo put away his second goal of the night — and 14th of the season — on a power play 3:25 into the second after Jack Studnicka was called for tripping.
Arvidsson fired a shot off the post and the rebound fell into traffic in front of the Vancouver net, where Iafallo muscled it in to give the visitors a 2-1 lead.
L.A. went 1-for-2 with the man advantage Sunday and Vancouver was 0-for-4.
The Kings levelled the score at 1-1 during a stretch of four-on-four hockey 13:02 into the first.
With Vancouver’s Anthony Beauvillier and L.A.’s Quinton Byfield in the box, Iafallo ripped a one-timer past Demko from the bottom of the faceoff circle for his first goal of the night.
Earlier in the frame, Korpisalo stopped J.T. Miller’s shot from the faceoff dot, only to see the rebound pop out to Boeser at the top of the crease. The right-winger tapped it in under the goalie’s left pad to give the Canucks a 1-0 lead 5:56 into the game.
The goal was Boeser’s 17th of the campaign.
THE INJURED LIST
L.A. winger Kevin Fiala was held out with an undisclosed injury. Kings defenceman Alex Edler left with an upper-body injury midway through the first period and did not return.
Elias Pettersson saw his career-high 14-game point streak snapped. The Canucks star centre registered eight goals and 12 assists across the stretch.
Canucks defenceman Akito Hirose made his NHL debut, coming in for the injured Guillaume Brisebois. Vancouver signed the 23-year-old Hirose to a one-year, entry-level contract on Wednesday after he wrapped up his collegiate career with Minnesota State University. He is the 15th blue liner to play for the Canucks this season.
Canucks: Continue a five-game homestand Tuesday against the Seattle Kraken.
Kings: Host the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 2, 2023.
Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press