LOS ANGELES – Any doubt the Ducks had anything left in the tank after an adventurous win last night in Colorado was put to rest tonight in Los Angeles.
The Ducks, behind 37 saves from Frederik Andersen, hung on for a 2-1 victory over the rival Kings in front of a passionate sellout crowd of 18,278.
"It was a good hockey game," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. "It was back and forth, and a little chippy here and there. Those are the games we need to get used to during the stretch."
With the win, the Ducks retook the lead in the Pacific Division, moving two points in front of San Jose and 15 in front of the Kings, who entered the game having won eight of nine.
"It’s going to be tough for the Kings to catch us now," said Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau. "They’re 15 points back with 14 games to go. They were playing so well, I didn’t think they were going to lose another game this year. It was a real important thing for us to come in here and stand our ground against them, and show that we compete against them."
It was the third straight win by the Ducks over their rivals this season, the last being the Stadium Series game at Dodger Stadium on January 25. But it was Anaheim's first win at Staples Center since the last day of the 2010-11 regular season, on April, 9, 2011.
"It was huge to get the Calgary game behind us, and get back to the way we’ve been playing," said Andersen, referring to a 7-2 defeat to the Flames on Wednesday that was a fourth straight loss. "Getting back to basics. It’s huge to win the week. We can’t get those two points back, but we’re happy about our week."
Tim Jackman scored in the first, Patrick Maroon tallied in the second and Andersen carried the Ducks the rest of the way in a tense victory that came despite a 38-20 LA shot advantage. The win came one night after a gripping 6-4 win in Colorado in which the Ducks scored all six of their goals in the second period and combined for a jaw-dropping nine with the Avs in that frame alone.
"Last night was a character win and we brought that same energy tonight," Maroon said. "LA is a big, strong, physical team. We gave it everything we had tonight. The boys did a good job."
The Ducks blocked 17 shots in front of Andersen, and they white-knuckled it down the stretch while clinging to that slim one-goal cushion.
The Kings appeared to tie the game with 6:23 left in the third when a deflected puck fell out of mid-air just over the stripe. But the goal was disallowed as officials ruled that Kings winger Marian Gaborik interfered with Andersen, much to the vocal dismay of the home crowd. Several fans threw debris on the ice after the ruling was announced, and despite the five-minute delay to clean it up, there was no penalty called on the Kings.
The Ducks got on the board first in this one from an unlikely source, although Jackman’s goal 13 minutes into the game was his second one in the last three. This one came off a nice feed in front by linemate Mathieu Perreault, allowing Jackman to fill the open right half of the net.
The Kings evened it a little more than halfway through the second period on the power play as Jarret Stoll’s shot rebounded off Andersen and Tyler Toffoli punched it through. It was the first Kings goal against the Ducks in 148:08, going back to the first period Jan. 23 at Honda Center. (Kopitar scored at 3:13 of the first period).
Anaheim re-took the lead for good less than a minute later, as Maroon put the puck into the crease, and a sliding Jake Muzzin bumped it over the stripe. That held up as the game-winner as the Ducks kept LA at bay the rest of the way.
"You need depth scoring," Boudreau said. "If you don’t get it, you’re not going to win. When we were winning regularly, we were getting all four lines contributing, not necessarily on the same night, but if one wasn’t going, the other one would come in. That’s what we need to do."
Having polished off a 2-1-0 road trip, the Ducks return home to battle the Capitals on Tuesday at Honda Center.