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Power Rankings: Kings win big over Blackhawks, Stars as chase for third crown continues

Jared Clinton
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Vincent Lecavalier, Alec Martinez, Tanner Pearson and Trevor Lewis (L-to-R) (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images) Author: The Hockey News

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Power Rankings: Kings win big over Blackhawks, Stars as chase for third crown continues

Jared Clinton
By:

The Los Angeles Kings faced two of the top teams in the Central Division on back-to-back nights and won each game soundly, putting up five goals both nights. After missing the playoffs in 2014-15, the Kings look ready to challenge for a third Stanley Cup in five seasons.

The Los Angeles Kings are fighting tooth and nail with the Anaheim Ducks and, to a lesser extent, the San Jose Sharks for the Pacific Division lead. And when the Kings came up against one of their toughest opponents they have remaining on their schedule, Los Angeles came out flying, scored two goals in 18 seconds in the first frame and took control of the game the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks could even get settled.

The next night, the Central Division-leading Dallas Stars were the target, and again the Kings posted five goals against top competition. Jonathan Quick is on top of his game, the offense is clicking and scoring has been deep and Los Angeles is as smothering defensively as always. Come the post-season, Los Angeles will likely get Marian Gaborik back in the fold, too. That won’t hurt their chances at chasing three Stanley Cups in five seasons.

After two months of mediocrity, the Kings are heating up at the right time and find themselves atop THN.com’s power rankings. (Last week’s ranking in parentheses.)

THE CREAM OF THE CROP
1. Los Angeles (13)
2. St. Louis Blues (5)
3. Philadelphia Flyers (14)
4. Anaheim Ducks (2)
5. Nashville Predators (4)
6. Pittsburgh Penguins (15)
7. San Jose Sharks (11)
8. Boston Bruins (6)
9. Tampa Bay Lightning (7)
10. Washington Capitals (1)

Los Angeles’ wins dominating wins over Chicago and Dallas on back-to-back nights puts them at 7-2-1 over their past 10 games and four points clear of Anaheim in the Pacific…Blues netminder Jake Allen has won six of his past seven starts and looks like a true No. 1…The Flyers’ dominating first period against the Red Wings put them one point back of Detroit for a wild-card spot with two games in hand…Ducks winger Jakob Silfverberg posted a three-goal, four-point night against the Devils…Pekka Rinne’s game has turned around, and he’s 8-1-2 with a 1.89 GAA and .939 SP in his last 11 games…The Penguins needed a win to widen the gap in the wild-card race and they got it over the Islanders…Sharks center Joe Thornton is continuing to light it up with four goals and 19 points in his past 15 games…David Pastrnak has four goals and five points in his past five games and the added offense won’t hurt Boston come playoff time…The Lightning are hot, but their power play has been abysmal. Maybe Jonathan Drouin can help out…The Capitals, 14 points up on the next closest team with games in hand, can’t be caught in the Presidents’ Trophy race.

THE MUSHY MIDDLE
11. New York Islanders (3)
12. Dallas Stars (10)
13. Florida Panthers (12)
14. New York Rangers (8)
15. Chicago Blackhawks (9)
16. Detroit Red Wings (17)
17. Ottawa Senators (22)
18. Minnesota Wild (16)
19. Carolina Hurricanes (19)
20. Colorado Avalanche (18)

Keeping Kyle Okposo has worked for the Islanders so far as he has four goals and nine points in eight games to lead New York post-deadline…Dallas is sitting atop the Central Division, but neither Antti Niemi nor Kari Lehtonen has established themselves as the team’s true starting goaltender…The Panthers are keeping pace in the Atlantic Division but starting to slip at the worst possible time…Eric Staal hasn’t quite provided the offense the Rangers had hoped he would so far with only one goal and two points in seven games…The Blackhawks have won just once in their past four games and their penalty killing has been an ugly 71.4 percent over that span…Detroit came out flat in the most important game of their season, losing 4-3 to Philadelphia after being outshot 23-3 in the first period…The Senators’ late run last season was magical, but they’re running out of time this season…Minnesota blew a chance to pull away from Colorado by giving up a last-second goal and overtime winner to Ottawa…If Carolina’s goaltending had been better than .916 at 5-on-5, the Hurricanes would be a playoff team…One point separates the Avalanche and Wild for the final wild-card spot, but Colorado’s league-worst 43.9 percent shot attempts for percentage makes them pretenders.

VYING FOR THE PARTICIPATION BADGE
21. Arizona Coyotes (29)
22. Edmonton Oilers (24)
23. Calgary Flames (26)
24. Buffalo Sabres (23)
25. Vancouver Canucks (25)
26. Montreal Canadiens (20)
27. Winnipeg Jets (27)
28. Columbus Blue Jackets (21)
29. Toronto Maple Leafs (30)
30. New Jersey Devils (28)

Mike Smith returned after 40 games and posted a shutout, but the Coyotes’ future in goal is Louis Domingue…Edmonton has won only five of their past 16 games, and another first overall pick could be in their future…Johnny Gaudreau, who has 26 goals and 69 points in 68 games, should cash in big this summer as a restricted free agent…Jack Eichel won’t win the Calder Trophy, but he’s heating up with seven points in his past six games…Jacob Markstrom was pushing Ryan Miller for the starting job earlier in the season, but has faltered down the stretch…GM Marc Bergevin said Carey Price will only be officially shut down for the season come April 9, Montreal’s last game of the campaign…The Marko Dano acquisition has paid off for the Jets so far, he has three goals and five points…Columbus is 22nd in the league since John Tortorella took over, but it was too little, too late…Maple Leafs fans are falling in love with the scrappy Nikita Soshnikov, who has two goals and three points in nine games and isn’t afraid to mix it up…The Cory Schneider injury hurt the Devils’ outside shot at a wild-card spot and losses to Pittsburgh and Anaheim came by a combined score of 13-2.

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Power Rankings: Kings win big over Blackhawks, Stars as chase for third crown continues