Red-hot Anaheim might eventually pass Los Angeles for first place in the Pacific Division, but the Kings aren't exactly throwing their hands up and letting the Ducks blow by.
Another Anaheim win Sunday night at home would match its second-longest winning streak ever and draw it within two points of the Kings, though Los Angeles is quietly on a four-game winning streak of its own.
The Ducks' seven-game run is one short of matching their best since winning a franchise-record 10 straight from Dec. 6-28, 2013. They've gone an NHL-best 21-4-2 since the Christmas break to counter a horrendous start that placed the Ducks (33-19-8) squarely in last in the Western Conference 12 points back of the Kings (37-20-4).
After Friday's 2-1 overtime win over Edmonton extended their home winning streak to six in the third of a five-game homestand, postgame went about as it has for weeks now.
“I'm going to sound like a broken record, but we're just playing right now,” said Ryan Getzlaf, who scored for the sixth time in 12 games after managing three goals through his first 44 contests and has a seven-game point streak against the Kings. “We went through so many struggles at the start of the year that it's not worth worrying about who you are chasing or who is chasing you. We're just trying to push forward all that we can and get as many wins as we can before the end of this year.”
The last two wins have been the low-scoring variety, but Anaheim has averaged 3.81 goals per game over a 14-1-1 span. On the latest winning streak, that's had plenty to do with a successful power play as the Ducks have posted a 10-for-24 mark (41.7 percent) in their last seven.
Rickard Rakell scored a highlight-reel goal in overtime to keep the streak going, and the 22-year-old has five goals in his last nine contests.
“I think it was a 1-on-3, and for good measure he put it upstairs,” coach Bruce Boudreau told the team's official website. “It was a great move by him, but he's capable of doing that.”
The first two games of the season series have been split with the road team winning each, but the Ducks are 9-1-2 in regular-season meetings dating to the start of 2013-14.
While Anaheim has mounted its climb with plenty of scoring, the Kings have remained on top with modest offense at best, but they've held their last four opponents to three goals with none of them scoring more than one.
After Saturday's 2-0 home win over Buffalo, Los Angeles has scored two goals in each win and 10 in its last seven games. Tanner Pearson scored both against the Sabres, while Milan Lucic went his seventh game without a point to match his longest single-season drought since his rookie campaign.
“I thought our defense played really well,” coach Darryl Sutter said. “I think that our centermen probably as a group had a better game than we've had as a foursome for quite a while.”
In goal, Jhonas Enroth faced Buffalo so Jonathan Quick figures to play. Quick hasn't allowed more than two goals over a 4-1-1 span on which he's posted a 1.49 goals-against average. He has a 2.78 GAA in a 2-3-4 span versus Anaheim.
The Ducks started Frederik Andersen the last two games but will go back to John Gibson. Since matching a career high with six goals allowed in Pittsburgh on Feb. 8, the All-Star is 2-0-0 with a 1.88 GAA in three games. He also won in Los Angeles on Feb. 4 to improve to 3-1-0 in the series.
The Kings are an NHL-best 8-0-1 in the second game of back-to-back sets.