Kings, Ducks both in, but seeds still unsettled
Friday, 04.08.2011 / 11:39 PM
NHL.comDUCKS (46-30-5) at KINGS (46-29-6)
TV: KDOC (HD), FS-W (HD)
Anaheim 7-3-0; Los Angeles 6-3-1
Sixth and final meeting of the season between these Pacific Division rivals. The Ducks have won three of five against their opponents from Southern California, including a 2-1 win on Friday that earned them a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Teemu Selanne had both goals for Anaheim and leads all scorers with 3 goals in the series.
Another win by Anaheim on Saturday and it would leap Los Angeles in the standings and perhaps even claim home ice in the first round if the teams currently occupying the No. 4 and 5 seeds, Nashville and Phoenix, both lose in regulation. Meanwhile, Los Angeles also has a shot at fourth if it wins and Nashville and Phoenix both lose in regulation. The winner of this game can't finish any lower than sixth, while the loser could slip as low as eighth.
With two different lines clicking, Anaheim's offense will represent a major challenge to its first-round opponent. Corey Perry, he of the 50-goal season and dynamite second half, leads the No. 1 unit with Ryan Getzlaf and Bobby Ryan. But even if they're shut down, as was the case on Friday, there's also Selanne to contend with. He scored his 30th goal in the second period to tie the score, then gave the Ducks the lead by connecting again 5:54 into the third. Dan Ellis took the place of Ray Emery, who's battling a lower-body injury, and stopped 23 of 24 shots.
"The team bands together at times when it looks like we could have been down and out and could have crumbled," Ryan said. "It speaks to the character in the room and obviously we've got different leaders in different ways that stepped up."
It's not a huge surprise that Los Angeles has struggled for offense since Anze Kopitar
and Justin Williams
went down. The Kings have now managed just 11 goals in the past half-dozen games, and their power play has fizzled with 16 consecutive fruitless opportunities. Ryan Smyth
opened the scoring in the first period against the Ducks, but they couldn't build on the lead and wasted a solid effort in goal from Jonathan Quick
, who finished with 26 saves.
"They needed those points to get in the playoffs," forward Wayne Simmonds
said. "I think we could have done a better job for ourselves. … We kind of let our foot off the pedal halfway through the game there, and they kind of came on strong, and obviously that cost us."
Perry has 19 goals in the last 15 games for the Ducks, while Selanne has 3 goals in the last two games to eclipse 30 in a season for the 10th time in his career and the first since he potted 48 back in 2006-07.
Anaheim dressed Jonas Hiller, who has played in just three games since the All-Star break and seen less than 12 minutes of action since Feb. 13, as Ellis' backup Friday. Coach Randy Carlyle didn't say if Emery would be back in uniform Saturday. … Kopitar's ankle injury is expected to keep him out for the rest of the season, while Williams hopes he can return from a shoulder injury if Los Angeles advances far enough in the playoffs.
Selanne now has 1,340 career points, moving past Denis Savard and Dave Andreychuk into sole possession of 27th on the all-time scoring list. … Dustin Brown
leads the Kings with 28 goals and has the highest point total among active players with 57, the same amount Williams had when he went down. Kopitar will finish as their leading scorer with 73 points.
It's the fifth playoff berth in six seasons for Anaheim and the second straight for Los Angeles, but this is the first time ever that both teams have qualified together, a feat that wasn't lost on Selanne.
"We need this," he said. "Obviously for hockey here in Southern California, this is going to be a huge boost for both franchises. I'm very happy about this situation."