The Pacific Division-leading Ducks (45-23-13, 103 points) conclude the 2016-17 regular season this evening vs. the Los Angeles Kings (39-35-7, 85 points) at Honda Center (5:30 p.m. PT, Prime Ticket/AM 830). The Ducks have eclipsed 100 points in the last four consecutive seasons, joining the Chicago Blackhawks as the only teams that have done so. Anaheim enters tonight's game with points in 13 consecutive games (10-0-3), the longest active streak in the NHL and tied for the third-longest in team history. The club is also 12-1-3 in the last 16 games and 13-2-3 dating to the end of its bye week on March 3, which leads the NHL in points (29) and co-leads in wins.
At Honda Center, the Ducks are riding a five-game win streak along with a nine-game point streak (8-0-1). The club has gone 18-4-2 at home since January 1, which ranks second among NHL teams in home standings points (38) and wins. Anaheim's 28-8-4 mark at Honda Center this season is tied for the best home record in franchise history through 40 games. In addition, the club has allowed the fewest goals at Honda Center in club history through 40 games. Upcoming milestones include Antoine Vermette two points shy of 500 NHL points and Randy Carlyle one victory shy of surpassing Jacques Demers (409-468-130) for sole possession of 33rd place all-time among NHL coaches in wins.
Tonight's contest wraps up the five-game Freeway Faceoff between the Ducks and Kings. Anaheim has gone 13-4-2 in the last 19 regular-season games vs. Los Angeles, while 12 of the last 18 Ducks-Kings games have been decided by one goal. Since the start of the 2010-11 season, the Ducks have scored 88 goals to the Kings' 81 (shootout goals excluded) in 35 games. In that time span, the two teams have posted 20-11-4 (Anaheim) and 15-14-6 (Los Angeles) records. All-time, the Ducks are 62-45-24 vs. the Kings, including a 34-15-15 mark at Honda Center. Rickard Rakell leads Anaheim skaters in scoring during the first four games of the Freeway Faceoff, collecting four points (2g/2a) with a +2 rating. Ryan Getzlaf paces active Ducks players in career scoring vs. Los Angeles with 51 points (19g/32a) in 64 games.
With this being the last game before the playoffs, it remains to be seen what kind of lineup Carlyle dresses. Injured players Hampus Lindholm and Nate Thompson appear ready for game action, but sitting them tonight could be an option.
Lindholm took part in the team's full practice yesterday and says he'll see how his body responds today before making his decision. "You always want to play and help the team, but it wouldn't matter that much to me," he said, on whether or not he plays in the season finale.
Carlyle reiterates it ultimately comes down to Lindholm. "If Hampus tells us he's ready, he's ready. I don't have any call on that," he said. "Would it be an advantage? I think it would be an advantage for Hampus to play, but if he's not medically cleared and he doesn't feel 100 percent, he has the decision to make."
Thompson, meanwhile, says he is good to go after missing Thursday's game with an upper-body injury. "It was just something that needed to be addressed," he said. "I wanted to make sure I was good to good. I'm good. I'll be all right. You want to look at the big picture. We have a lot of hockey left, hopefully. You want to make sure you're feeling good and rested, and everything is good to go."
Carlyle says he wants to use this game as a chance for his team to fine tune its own game before the real fun begins next week. "We're going to have to be ready and make sure we clean up some of things that happened in our last game against Chicago," he said. "Yeah, we won 4-0, but we gave up far too many scoring chances. We don't want to be trending that way as we step into the playoffs."
The Ducks can clinch their fifth consecutive Pacific Division title with at least one point against the Kings OR if the Oilers lose to the Canucks in any fashion. However, if the Ducks and Oilers end the season tied in points and 42 ROW (Ducks regulation loss vs. Kings, Oilers shootout win vs. Canucks), the Oilers win the tiebreaker, having won the season series against the Ducks, six points to four.
The winner of the Pacific Division will host the Calgary Flames in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, while the second-place team will host the San Jose Sharks.