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Both the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks are fighting to get into playoff position in the Western Conference.
But going into the southern California rivals' final meeting of the season, they're also both trying to regain their confidence defensively after losses to the same lowly opponent.
The Kings will try to avoid a fourth straight defeat Wednesday night against the Ducks, who will be playing their last home game before a season-high six-game road trip.
Anaheim (28-25-5) had allowed three goals while winning back-to-back games over Calgary going into Sunday's meeting with last-place Atlanta, but gave up that many to Ilya Kovalchuk in the second period alone en route to an 8-4 loss.
Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere had showed signs of improvement against the Flames, but his inconsistent season continued as he allowed five goals on 25 shots before being pulled midway through the second. Giguere's 3.09 goals-against average is his worst in a decade, and he's been losing time to backup Jonas Hiller, who's 4-0-0 with a 0.74 GAA in four career starts versus the Kings (24-22-9).
Against Atlanta, Anaheim allowed 43 shots and gave up eight goals for the first time since an 8-0 loss at Dallas on March 21, 2001.
"We've got to go back to work," center Ryan Getzlaf said. "... We're a team that prides itself on not giving up so many shots. We didn't respond the way we needed."
One night later, the Thrashers caused similar problems for Los Angeles, which fell behind 3-0 in the first eight minutes and eventually erased a three-goal deficit in the third period before losing 7-6 in a shootout.
Like Giguere, Kings starter Jon Quick was yanked after giving up three goals on seven shots. Quick, who was replaced by Erik Ersberg, had been 11-7-1 with a 2.31 GAA coming in.
Anaheim leads Los Angeles by three points in the West, but the Kings have three games in hand on their Pacific Division rival. The teams are two of four clubs in the conference that are outside of playoff position but within five points of eighth place.
Just two years removed from a Stanley Cup title and with most of that core back, the Ducks had been expecting better results this season.
"The teams that we are in the pack against, it becomes must-wins when we play those teams," coach Randy Carlyle told the Ducks' official Web site. "The pressure is going to be squarely pushed toward us. We put ourselves in this situation. We're responsible for it."
The Kings are simply looking for their first playoff berth since 2002. They may be happy to head back on the road after going 0-1-2 on their recent homestand, considering they've won four straight and six of their last seven away from home.
Nineteen of their final 27 games are on the road, and coach Terry Murray is still searching for consistency at both ends of the ice.
"You can't overwhelm yourself with looking at the remaining part of the schedule. It's hard," Murray said. "There's a lot of road games there, but the next game at Anaheim we have to regroup and come out with the right kind of effort to get two points."
The Kings have scored one goal in their two trips to Honda Center this season, running their losing streak there to six (0-4-2). They're 2-2-1 against the Ducks this season, including a 4-3 win in the most recent meeting Jan. 8.
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