LOS ANGELES — Mike Richards scored the tiebreaking goal, Jonathan Quick made 19 saves and the Los Angeles Kings crept closer to the Anaheim Ducks atop the Pacific Division standings Saturday night with a 2-1 victory in the final Freeway Faceoff of the regular season.
Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist as the defending Stanley Cup champions solidified their hold on a top-four seed in the Western Conference by holding off the powerful Ducks, who have lost two straight.
Los Angeles (24-14-4) trails division-leading Anaheim (27-10-5) by seven points with six games to play.
Ryan Getzlaf scored a short-handed goal and Viktor Fasth stopped 16 shots for the Ducks, who have lost in their past five trips to Staples Center.
The clubs split their four-game Freeway Faceoff series, with the home team winning each time. Fans already are wondering whether the Kings and Ducks will meet in the post-season for the first time in their 20 years together in the NHL.
Southern California’s two teams are enjoying their strongest simultaneous season, with Anaheim sitting in second place in the West for most of the season and the Kings closing in on a top-four seed for their title defence.
The Kings clamped down on Anaheim’s scorers and didn’t commit a penalty until 2:55 remained. Quick was sharp again, although he gave up his only goal by skating well out of his net in a futile attempt to chase down the puck.
After finishing a brutal stretch of 26 games in 46 days with an ugly loss to Colorado on Wednesday, the Ducks finally got their first consecutive days without games since late February.
Anaheim didn’t exactly bounce back swiftly from two days of practice, playing a sluggish first period in front of a lively Staples Center crowd with big fan support for both teams.
Los Angeles went ahead when Doughty’s slap shot from straightaway hit at least one Anaheim player in front before skittering under Fasth. The Kings’ $56 million defenceman got his fourth goal in five games after getting just one in the first 37 outings this season.
Anaheim managed just one shot in the first period, but its second shot was a beauty by Getzlaf, who scored his team-leading 14th goal.
The Ducks’ captain blocked Jake Muzzin’s shot on a power play and then chased the puck into Los Angeles’ end, where Quick made a foolhardy move to play the puck. Getzlaf avoided the diving Quick and two defenders, putting a sharp-angled shot into Quick’s net for just the fourth short-handed goal of his career.
Bobby Ryan appeared to put the Ducks ahead moments later when Emerson Etem’s backhand off the crossbar deflected off his leg and into the net, but the NHL waved off the goal, saying Ryan had kicked it in.
The Kings couldn’t manage a shot during four minutes of power play time later in the period, but Richards put the Kings ahead late in the period with an exceptional wrist shot through traffic, finding a tiny opening behind Fasth for his 11th goal of the season.
NOTES: Richards scored against Anaheim in his ninth straight game. … Anaheim scratched C Matthew Lombardi, acquired last week in a trade with Phoenix. Lombardi is scoreless with a minus-2 rating in four games with the Ducks. Veteran RW Radek Dvorak returned to the lineup. … D Cam Fowler also sat out with an upper-body injury after getting hurt early in the Ducks’ last game. … Getzlaf scored the fourth short-handed goal of his career.