Ducks grab three-goal lead, fight off Kings rally for win
LOS ANGELES – The message was laid out in simple terms from a team that is peering through the window of those who currently hold the playoff positions within the Western Conference.
Hours in front of another tense, fight-filled Freeway Faceoff against the Kings, the Ducks’ Kevin Bieksa offered his to-the-point summation. “That’s a team that we need to catch,” the defenseman said. “This is the best way to do it, by taking two points from them.”
Ah, if it were only that easy. Nothing is in this series that’s often decided by one goal and the Kings weren’t going to fade away at Staples Center on Saturday night, even when they stared at a three-goal deficit.
Nick Shore and Anze Kopitar made it interesting in the third period but Corey Perry’s long-distance goal into an empty net secured a 4-2 win for the Ducks as the rivals kicked off another important stretch their respective schedules following a bye week.
Ondrej Kase scored twice and Ryan Kesler also had a goal as the Ducks (20-15-9) took advantage of Kings goalie Jonathan Quick not showing the usual form that got him a berth in the All-Star game later this month.
The Ducks needed to stay within a large pack that’s vying for spots within the Pacific Division and the conference’s two wild-card berths. Eight teams are within four points of each other, with Anaheim pulling up to that margin behind the Pacific’s second-place Kings (24-14-5).
“We know that’s going to be a real stretch of intense and important games,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “So from our standpoint, we need to get our group playing to a higher level than we’ve played in the past.
“There’s no excuses. There’s nobody else coming. We have our group together. Now it’s time for us to demonstrate that on the ice.”