Kesler’s goal sends Ducks past rival Kings, 2-1
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) Although the Freeway Faceoff rivalry typically features a heaping helping of fights and physical play, nobody dropped the gloves in the Anaheim Ducks’ latest showdown with the Los Angeles Kings.
Both clubs realize it’s already time to start thinking about the postseason, and the Ducks have started their surge at the Kings’ expense.
Ryan Kesler deflected home Francois Beauchemin’s shot for the tiebreaking goal with 7:39 to play and Anaheim beat Los Angeles for the second time in seven days, 2-1 Friday night.
Adam Henrique scored early in the third period and John Gibson made 23 saves for the Ducks, who have won six of nine overall. They’ve leaped back into the chase behind first-place Vegas in the Pacific Division, which has been won five straight times by Anaheim.
The Kings got off to a 20-8-3 start to the regular season, and the Ducks stumbled while dealing with major injury problems. With this victory, Anaheim (22-16-9) pulled alongside Los Angeles (24-17-5) with 53 points apiece.
Anaheim got its first victory of the season in this rivalry last Saturday night at Staples Center, winning 4-2 in a typically pugnacious meeting. The local rivals had three fights in four seconds early in that game – but the focus stayed on hockey in the Orange County rematch.
”The points are too important to let any of that get in the way,” Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said. ”These games before the All-Star break are paramount for us to get into the playoff picture.”
Rookie Alex Iafallo evened it for Los Angeles moments after Henrique’s goal, but Kesler’s long deflection sent the puck bouncing past Jonathan Quick. Anaheim then hung on in a frantic final minute to even the archrivals’ season series at two games apiece.
”We’re in a mode that every game counts, and obviously these division games are extra special,” Kesler said.
Quick stopped 29 shots in the Kings’ sixth consecutive loss, extending their longest skid of the season. While Los Angeles wasn’t soundly outplayed, the losses are starting to stack up for a team that led the division a few weeks ago.
”We’ve had a really streaky season, to be honest with you,” Los Angeles coach John Stevens said. ”But it’s a process we have to learn from, and I think we have.”
After two scoreless periods, Henrique put the Ducks ahead with 17:55 to play by taking the puck in front of the net, going airborne and landing in the crease while his 11th goal trickled in.
Iafallo replied 2:43 later, swatting a rebound of defenseman Jake Muzzin’s shot over Gibson’s outstretched pad for his first goal since Dec. 7.
Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano got several standing ovations in his return from a two-game suspension for checking Los Angeles’ Adrian Kempe in the clubs’ last meeting. The NHL’s widely criticized disciplinary decision ended Cogliano’s 11-season streak of 830 consecutive games without a miss since the start of his career.
The Ducks honored Cogliano on the scoreboard during a first-period stoppage, and he waved to acknowledge the ovation from fans including team owner Henry Samueli.
”It shows how much they appreciate me and the time I’ve put in for almost seven years here,” said Cogliano, who began his NHL career in Edmonton. ”I just want to thank them. They made me feel great.”
NOTES: The Ducks have won four straight home games. … Anaheim All-Star selection Rickard Rakell had six shots in the first two scoreless periods and another scoring chance on which the puck somehow hit both posts without going in. … Torrey Mitchell returned to the Kings’ lineup after sitting Thursday as a healthy scratch for the first time since joining the team in a trade with Montreal. Jonny Brodzinski was scratched instead. … Ducks F Derek Grant was scratched for the third time in four games. … Cogliano’s consecutive games streak was the fourth-longest in NHL history and the league’s longest in more than two decades.
Kings: Host the New York Rangers on Sunday.
Ducks: Host the San Jose Sharks on Sunday.
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