Ducks 4, Kings 3
Teemu Selanne had two goals and an assist, Rob Niedermayer scored in his 800th NHL game, and the Ducks beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 on Saturday despite giving up two power-play goals in the final 2 minutes.
"Obviously we didn't put together the 60 minutes that we wanted to, but can't expect them to quit because they're a good club," Anaheim forward Ryan Getzlaf said. "They've got a lot of pride in that dressing room and they showed it."
Scott Thornton triggered the Kings' three-goal rally in the third period. Rob Blake and Dustin Brown both connected with the man advantage after delay-of-game penalties to Todd Marchant and Scott Niedermayer for clearing the puck over the glass.
"You never want to criticize a win, but we had a little letdown and there were some things we feel we maybe let things slip a little bit," Ducks defenseman Sean O'Donnell said. "We made a couple of mistakes on some clears, and they got two. I was on for both those goals, and I don't think we were mentally strong enough there."
Anaheim (20-2-6) is off to the best start in franchise history, leading the NHL with 46 points. After establishing club marks last season with 43 wins, 98 points, 254 goals and 87 power-play goals, the Ducks are on pace to eclipse those totals.
Travis Moen had a goal and an assist, helping Anaheim improve to 3-0 against the fourth-place Kings and open up a 24-point margin over them in the Pacific Division standings.
"Anytime you have a chance to distance yourself from a team in your division and your conference, it's good to come away with the two points because that's two points they can't get," Getzlaf said. "These are big games for us."
The teams face each other again Sunday at Anaheim. It's the fifth time the Kings and Ducks are playing back-to-back games since the rivalry was born in 1993-94, and just the second time on consecutive days.
"These are our cross-town rivals," Kings coach Marc Crawford said. "These guys are the kings of the castle right now, and they're on top of the heap. We have to play with a lot of emotion in order to beat them tomorrow, or anytime."
Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 38 saves - five during a two-man advantage the Kings had for a full 2 minutes in the second period with the Ducks hanging on to a 2-0 lead.
"It was a big turning point of the game," Giguere said of the Ducks' penalty-killing unit, which had allowed only three goals in 51 short-handed situations on the road. "You don't want to be overaggressive on a 5-on-3, but we made sure they had a hard time getting into the zone."
Moen opened the scoring at 4:11 of the first, converting a rebound after Dan Cloutier stopped Samuel Pahlsson's short backhander. Selanne scored on a one-timer from the left circle during a hooking penalty against Craig Conroy.
Anaheim extended its lead to 3-0 at 17:22 of the second when Moen's wrist shot from the top of the right circle deflected into the net off Rob Niedermayer's leg.
Selanne got his second of the game on another one-timer from the left circle on a setup by Chris Pronger. Selanne, who led the league in November with 10 goals and 23 points, has recorded nine of his 13 goals in the last eight games.
"I don't think I've tried to change anything. I just try to make the right decision at the right time, when it's time to shoot or pass," Selanne said. "When you play with great players, you get great passes."
Cloutier was benched during each of his previous two starts, after giving up five goals on 12 shots at San Jose on Nov. 22 and three goals on five shots at Phoenix on Thursday. Crawford didn't have much choice but to start him against Anaheim because Mathieu Garon was sidelined with a groin injury.
The Ducks have played 19 regular-season games at Staples Center since the arena opened in October 1999. This was the fourth time it wasn't a sellout. ... The Ducks-Kings matchup was part of Saturday's all-Southern California "hat trick." The Lakers played the Clippers in the nightcap of the Staples Center doubleheader, and UCLA hosted USC at the Rose Bowl. ... The Kings are 0-12 when trailing after two periods.
GAME PREVIEW (NHL.com)
Watching the crosstown rival Anaheim Ducks dominate the NHL has to be difficult for the Los Angeles Kings.
Following close losses in the first two meetings, the Kings will try to prevent the Ducks from a season-high fifth straight win when the teams meet at Staples Center in the opener of a home-and-home series on Saturday.
The Ducks and Kings are natural rivals because of their close proximity, but the series has become one-sided lately with Anaheim winning the last six meetings, including both this season.
While Los Angeles (9-14-4) is trying to remain ahead of last-place Phoenix in the Pacific Division, Anaheim (19-2-6) is off to the best start in franchise history and owns the NHL's best record.
The Ducks extended their win streak with a 2-1 win at Vancouver on Thursday, as Ryan Getzlaf scored the tiebreaking goal on a two-man advantage with 7:34 remaining.
It was the third straight game with a goal and second consecutive game-winner for Getzlaf, who capped an improbable comeback Tuesday in Edmonton by scoring in overtime after Anaheim tied it with 17 seconds left in the third period.
"It's good to get rolling a little bit and find that groove and contribute like I can in the third period like that," Getzlaf said.
A balanced attack, the addition of Chris Pronger, and Jean-Sebastien Giguere's goaltending are all reasons behind the Ducks' impressive start, but just as important has been the play of veteran right wing Teemu Selanne, the team leader with 31 points.
Selanne led the NHL with 23 points in November, scoring goals in eight of 15 games and recording at least a point in all but two contests. He has multiple points in five of his last six games against Los Angeles, and his 84 points against the Kings are his most versus any opponent.
Since allowing a combined nine goals in back-to-back games, Giguere has surrendered seven in his past five starts. The Ducks have failed to get a point in only one of his 20 starts this season.
The Kings were unable to win a season-high third straight game on Thursday, allowing four first-period goals in a 7-4 loss at Phoenix. Derek Armstrong scored twice for Los Angeles, which gave up more than five goals for the fifth time this season.
Dan Cloutier's dismal season continued as he surrendered three goals on five shots in less than 10 minutes before he was replaced by Barry Brust, who made 24 saves in his NHL debut.
Cloutier's 3.85 goals-against average is the league's worst.
"We needed better goaltending tonight and Danny didn't give it to us," Kings coach Marc Crawford said. "I know that he wanted to play better and he's capable of playing better and we've got to find a way to help him through this."
The Kings have allowed the most goals in the Western Conference with 93.
Cloutier started Thursday because Mathieu Garon injured his groin during practice Wednesday. Garon, whose status is unknown, is 2-5-2 with a 4.22 GAA in nine starts against Anaheim.
These teams meet again on Sunday at the Honda Center.