Ducks try to deny Kings a record 10th straight victory
Monday, 02.08.2010 / 4:00 PM
NHL.comKINGS (36-19-3) at DUCKS (27-24-7)
Los Angeles 9-1-0; Anaheim 6-4-0
Fourth of six meetings this season between Pacific Division rivals, and the second in a span of five days. Los Angeles has won all three matchups to this point. The Kings prevailed 4-3 in Anaheim on Dec. 1 behind a late Brad Richardson goal, won 4-0 on home ice on Jan. 14 as Jonathan Quick stopped all 22 shots he faced and outlasted the Ducks 6-4 last Thursday, with Dustin Brown netting the game-winner and Anze Kopitar scoring twice. The teams conclude the season series with a home-and-home in April.
While a lot of attention is being paid to Washington and its current 14-game winning streak, Los Angeles is approaching a double-digit run of its own. The Kings take a franchise-record nine-game winning streak into Monday's action, and are brimming with confidence after rallying from a three-goal deficit to beat the Red Wings 4-3 on Saturday.
"It has been our attitude this year that we are never out of a game," Brown told the Los Angeles Times. "Especially with the way things are right now."
It looked like Detroit would make short work of Los Angeles' streak after Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula scored 16 seconds apart in the first period and Zetterberg added a second tally just five seconds before the intermission. But the Kings stormed back to tie in the second on goals by Alexander Frolov, Michal Handzus and Ryan Smyth before Handzus added the game-winner with 2:21 remaining in the third. Of the nine wins, six have been of the come-from-behind variety.
"It's a very satisfying win, absolutely. To see the players dig in. And they're really starting to play hard for each other," coach Terry Murray told the Times. "Everybody kept going. That's the desperation, that's the perseverance that you have to continually show.
"It just shows to me the young group's really starting to come together. And the character that's now starting to come into the locker room."
Backup goalie Vesa Toskala, acquired from Toronto along with Jason Blake
in exchange for Jean-Sebastien Giguere, has cleared immigration and joined the team, allowing Anaheim to reassign Justin Pogge to the AHL. Meanwhile, Jonas Hiller
carries the bulk of the load in net. Hiller allowed just one goal in wins over Florida and Detroit after Giguere was dealt, but got victimized for six goals by Los Angeles last week.
"At the end of the night, we made more mistakes than they did and that was the difference," captain Scott Niedermayer said.
Quick has been in net for the duration of the Kings' streak and leads the League with 34 wins. Handzus is coming off consecutive three-point games, while Frolov has back-to-back two-point efforts. Smyth has a four-game points streak and five goals in his last nine. Kopitar had seven goals and eight assists during an eight-game points streak that ended Saturday.
has a goal and six assists during a four-game points streak for the Ducks. Blake had a goal and an assist Thursday, his first points with his new team.
Los Angeles defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder) and forwards Justin Williams (leg/ankle) are on injured reserve. … Anaheim forward Joffrey Lupul
is on injured reserve as he recovers from back surgery.
Quick is 5-0-0 with a 2.60 goals-against average against the Ducks, while Hiller started out 4-0-0 with an 0.74 GAA against the Kings but has since lost five in a row with a 4.59 GAA during that stretch.
The stakes are higher right now for Anaheim, which sits 12th in the Western Conference, five points out of a playoff spot. But there will be plenty of motivation for Los Angeles, which is battling not only to keep its winning streak alive but for the fourth seed and home ice in the first round.