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Both the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings have experienced up-and-down seasons. It's the Kings, though, who are on more of an upswing lately.
Anaheim (9-7-2) has taken seven of the last nine meetings with Los Angeles (7-7-2) and the last four at the Honda Center, where the rivals will meet Sunday.
The Kings, however, come in with a 4-1 record in their last five games, while the Ducks are on a three-game losing streak. The teams have split two meetings this season - both at Staples Center.
Los Angeles was 3-6-2 before starting its recent run, but had a four-game winning streak snapped Saturday in a 3-1 loss to Nashville.
"We had 27 shots after two periods and probably had a dozen great scoring chances," Los Angeles coach Terry Murray said. "We just couldn't find the way to get the job done."
The defeat was also the second in six starts and first in regulation for goalie Erik Ersberg (4-2-1), who is third in the NHL with a 1.95 GAA. Ersberg, who has assumed the starting role over a struggling Jason LaBarbera, has twice been a hard-luck loser to the Ducks in 1-0 decisions, including a loss on Nov. 4.
The Kings' offense has supported Ersberg well through most of the last five games.
Saturday's loss was the first time Los Angeles didn't score more than three goals in that span, and the Kings found the net 14 times during their win streak.
Anaheim started 1-5 start this season before rebounding with an 8-0-1 stretch. But the Ducks' current three-game skid includes a 4-3 overtime loss Friday to the Predators.
"We didn't create enough of the grind game early on, I thought," Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. "We didn't sustain a lot of pressure in the offensive zone until halfway through the game."
Like his team, Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere (7-6-1) has ridden a roller coaster. His goals-against average was 4.38 after his first three starts, but he trimmed it to 2.83 during Anaheim's winning stretch. After giving up 11 goals in his past three starts, it has moved back up to 3.12 - a full point higher than the career low established last season.
He has alternated wins and losses in the last five games against Los Angeles, making 35 saves in the 1-0 overtime win on Nov. 4.
With six goals in the last three games, Anaheim's scoring has also dropped off. The Ducks averaged 3.89 goals during their hot stretch and 2.17 per game in their slow start.
While the Ducks have struggled offensively as a team, three players have done most of the contributing.
Ryan Getzlaf, who had a goal and an assist Friday, has a point in 11 of the last 13 games and leads Anaheim with 21. Corey Perry, who assisted on Getzlaf's goal, has a point in 10 of his last 12 contests. Teemu Selanne, who had one of his three assists on the Getzlaf goal, has picked up eight goals and nine assists in his last 11 games.
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