Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 4/6/12
The Kings roller-coaster campaign was rewarded Thursday night when they reached the playoffs for the third consecutive season. And it came to fruition shortly before the puck was dropped at Staples Center for the Kings-Sharks game, the home finale for Los Angeles. The Kings' magic number, one, transformed into zero when the Predators defeated Dallas, 2-0, in Nashville, officially eliminating the Stars from playoff contention. The news that the Kings clinched a playoff spot was announced at Staples Center in the opening minutes of the Sharks game, getting a loud round of applause from the crowd. Dallas had needed to stay alive with a victory against the Predators. The Stars have missed the playoffs for the last four seasons. Still on the line is the Pacific Division title, and the Kings have won a division title just once in franchise history. "You see who sinks and you see who swims and we need a bunch of swimmers in here if we want to get to where we want to be, in the playoffs, Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell said about the race. To give ourselves a shot at it and what we all want. It's up to all of us to swim. Swim real hard." In Nashville, the game-winning goal came early (4 minutes 28 seconds) in the third period from an unexpected source -- defenseman Francis Bouillon, who has scored four goals this season. But three of them have come in the last six games. Nashville got an insurance goal from forward Patric Hornqvist with two minutes remaining, and Hornqvist had the first assist on the Bouillon goal. --Lisa Dillman
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