Kings lose, clinch playoff spot and get robbed

Late in Thursday night's hockey game at Staples Center, with the Kings on a rush that could have won the game, a possibly unprecedented thing happened. A player on the San Jose Sharks bench stood up, reached his stick onto the ice and flicked the puck as it went by, disrupting the Kings attack. Nearly all of the 18,000-plus fans seemed to see it happen, said ESPN LA. The TV announcers sure did. (See video below.) But none of the four officials on the ice called a penalty. Not that anyone was sure after the game just what the penalty would have been labeled. "Too many sticks on the ice?" Kings coach Darryl Sutter joked. In the locker room afterward, the guilty Shark played it cool. "I have no idea what you guys are talking about," Ryane Clowe said. "I'll have to see the video or something; you'll have to show me on video."

OK, here it is.

The incident left the Kings organization "somewhere between disbelief and anger," wrote LA Kings Insider blogger Rich Hammond. AEG chief Tim Leiweke even emailed, “It’s a shame that a guy can cheat and get away with it in a game this important.” None of the hockey figures at Staples Thursday night remembered seeing such an interference before. It's the kind of thing that could merit a suspension or big fine, or it could also be ignored by league officials.

In the end, the Sharks won in a shootout and moved ahead of the Kings in the standings with one game left in the season — Saturday night, again versus each other. Both teams, however, qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs when the Dallas Stars lost tonight. What's at stake is home ice in the first and seventh games of the opening round of playoffs.

Added: Bay Area sports columnist Ray Ratto writes, "Ryane Clowe cheated big time Thursday night."

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