It may have been the Ducks and Kings final meeting of the regular season, but chances are good that the teams could meet again this year in the playoffs. If they do it can only intensify (if that is possible) the rivalry between the two teams.
The Ducks may have defeated their up the freeway neighbors on earlier in the week, but on Saturday, it was the Kings turn to take the victory and two points in a 2-1 defeat of Anaheim. That left the four game season series tied at two games each, both sides holding their home ice advantage. Another interesting twist if the two meet in the playoffs.
"They're a good hockey team," said Ryan Getzlaf. "There is a reason they've gotten back to where they are in the standings."
And on Saturday night they were just that little bit better than the Ducks.
Drew Doughty got the Kings on the board at 10:10 of the first period. The Kings were swarming the net and the puck hit several Ducks players on the way in behind Viktor Fasth.
After being outshot 6-1 in the first period, the Ducks finally got some life with a short handed goal from Getzlaf at 3:07. It was Getzlaf's fourth shortie of the year, and more remarkably, the first short handed goal that Los Angeles had allowed all season.
Jonathan Quick screwed up, plain and simple. He came out to almost the blue line to get the puck, but Getzlaf stole it from him and put it in the empty net unchallenged.
The Ducks nearly had the lead less than two minutes later. Bobby Ryan might have had the go ahead goal were it not for a "distinct kicking motion" that put the puck in the net.
A four minute high sticking major by Ben Lovejoy sucked some of the energy out of Anaheim, even though they did not allow any shots on goal during the extended man advantage.\
Incapable of staying out the box eventually cost the Ducks the game. Mike Richards scored on the power play at 19:02 and it was 2-1 going into the third.
"We played pretty well," was Getzlaf's assessment. "We held them to [three] shots in the second, and one went in the net. When you can hold a team like that, you're doing something right. It's a bounce here and there, and they scored on big one."
Nothing else changed for the remainder of the game and the Kings held on for the win. The lead between the Ducks and Kings has now shrunk to seven points, as the Pacific Division is still technically up for grabs.
"Our strength at the beginning of the year is that everyone was scoring, and now nobody is scoring," said coach Bruce Boudreau. "If I had an explanation, I could cure it. We had some great chances, but we just didn't put them in. To win hockey games, you've got to score goals."
Rather than extend their two game losing streak, the Ducks would like to correct that on Wednesday with a victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. They have four days to rest, regroup and recover, their longest break between games in nearly two months. No excuses.