VANCOUVER, Canada — The contest for the final two playoff spots in the Smythe Division is like a turtle race between the Kings, Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames.
The Kings crawled ahead as they regained sole possession of third place with a 5-5 overtime tie against the Canucks Thursday night at the Pacific Coliseum.
However, Los Angeles probably should have beaten the Canucks.
Leading, 5-4, after wing Phil Sykes scored his second goal of the game with 3:47 left in the third period, the Kings failed to protect the lead as Canuck center Brent Peterson scored the tying goal with 14 seconds left in regulation.
The Kings held a brief team meeting after the game.
"We had the game under control," Marcel Dionne said. "But we made the same mistakes we've been making all year long. We can't seem to correct them."
Asked what was discussed during the meeting, King Captain Dave Taylor said, "We just talked about defending a lead. There was no screaming and yelling. We have to learn how to protect a lead, and tonight was a perfect example."
Trailing by one goal, the Canucks pulled goalie Richard Brodeur, who had played a spectacular game, for an extra skater in the final minute.
The move paid off when Peterson scored with 14 seconds left on a rebound to tie it and force a five-minute overtime.
"I was lucky that the puck bounced to me,' Peterson said. "Steve took a shot from the point, and the puck came over to me. Sometimes, when you pull the goalie for an extra skater, it doesn't work out; tonight it did.
"We didn't play that well, and I thought we were lucky to win. But Richard (Brodeur) kept us in the game tonight."
Asked what happened on Peterson's goal, King goalie Bob Janecyk said: "The puck hit somebody's shin. There was a mad scramble, and it went in.
King Coach Pat Quinn said: "I'm not disgusted, I'm more disappointed that we didn't win.
"It's hard to say what happened on that goal. Maybe they got a lucky break. It bounced off one of our defensemen in front of the net. Sometimes, breaks do go against you."
The Kings, who were outshot, 6-1, in the overtime, had just one good scoring chance in the extra period.
But Brodeur stopped Bryan Erickson with about 3 1/2 minutes left. Erickson had scored two goals in the third period.
"It could have been the winning goal," said Brodeur, who made 41 saves. "He beat me before, and this time, I gave him the corner to my glove side, and he didn't put it in."
Erickson said: "He (Brodeur) just managed to get a glove on it. I put it right where I wanted to."
Brodeur was at his best in the first period, holding the Kings scoreless on 21 shots.
The Kings (20-39-7), who are winless in their last six games (0-5-1) lead Winnipeg and Vancouver by one point.
Sykes and Erickson scored two goals apiece to lead the Kings.
Dionne scored a power-play goal in the second period and is now four points away from passing Phil Esposito to become the No. 2 scorer of all-time in the National Hockey League with 1,591 points.
King Notes The Kings return home to play the Edmonton Oilers Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Forum. The Oilers have a 5-0-2 record against the Kings this season.