ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Phillip Danault scored the tiebreaking goal early in the third period, and the Los Angeles Kings solidified their playoff position with a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night. evening.
Jonathan Quick made 29 saves in an often spectacular performance, and Adrian Kempe scored the opening goal in the Kings’ third win in four games. Los Angeles is nearing the end of its three-season playoff drought, leading Vegas and Vancouver by five points for third place in the Pacific Division.
“If we expect to play in a couple of weeks, we have to get comfortable (in this type of game),” Quick said. “Especially this time of year, these games are more frequent. … It’s fun. Unfortunately, it’s been a few years, but we’re trying to enjoy it and take advantage of the opportunity that’s out there.”
The Kings still struggled to shake the Ducks in the third Freeway Faceoff of the season, and Quick had to make 16 saves in his standout second quarter to keep the score even.
“Looks like he’s been here before,” Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said of his two-time Stanley Cup-winning goalie. “He made great saves, obviously a lot of them from the penalty spot. He made them when he needed to reassure us. He feels great at the net right now, and we feel great with him at the net.”
Los Angeles then went ahead 32 seconds into the third when Danault shot over a prone John Gibson in an open net.
The goal was initially disallowed because Viktor Arvidsson made contact with Gibson’s right pad after Gibson had saved Arvidsson’s shot, but video review reversed the ruling, giving Danault his 25th goal of the season.
Quick also had to make a handful of impressive saves in the third, including a steal on Ducks All-Star forward Troy Terry. The 36-year-old former Conn Smythe Trophy-winning goalkeeper continued his impressive game during his reinvigorated season at the Los Angeles net.
Quick’s win was his 20th of the season, giving him nine NHL seasons with 20 wins, more than all but three US-born goaltenders in league history.
The Golden Knights and Canucks have a game to play against Los Angeles, but Vancouver is the toughest opponent left on the Kings’ schedule. The Kings also pulled out two points behind Edmonton for second place in the Pacific, though the Oilers have two games to go.
Adam Henrique had a power-play goal and Gibson stopped 26 shots for the Ducks, who will miss the playoffs in four straight seasons for the first time in franchise history. Anaheim has lost 17 of 20.
“I don’t think we were at our best,” Henrique said. “They were playing for their lives (in the playoffs), obviously. It had that sense of tight control, but I don’t think we were too connected during the game. It’s something we certainly have to be better at.”
After a scoreless first period, Kempe put the Kings ahead early in the second with an instant shot on a loose puck on a faceoff. Kempe’s 34 goals are tied for the second-most by a Los Angeles player in the past 15 seasons, surpassed only by captain Anze Kopitar’s 35 goals in 2017-18.
Five minutes later, Troy Terry fed Henrique for his 18th goal with a deft backhand. Anaheim had several golden goal opportunities while controlling most of the rest of the period, but Quick was unwavering.
“When I think of the Kings-Ducks rivalry, I think of Gibson and Quick,” Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins said. “I thought they were both going to do it. It was very reminiscent of the battles of the past. I thought Quick was very good, and Gibby was right there matching him.”
The rivals from Southern California meet again this weekend in downtown Los Angeles.
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Kings: Host the Blackhawks on Thursday.
Ducks: At Kings on Saturday.
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