ANAHEIM - While the Ducks are still having their struggles finding the net, their defense clamped down just enough to hold off their bitter rivals tonight.
Josh Manson's second-period goal stood up as the game-winner as John Gibson stopped all 24 Los Angeles shots in a gritty 1-0 victory over the Kings before a sellout crowd at Honda Center. It was the fifth shutout of the year for Gibson, second in his past three starts and second against the Kings.
Meanwhile, the Ducks improved to 13-3-2 in the last 18 regular-season games vs. the Kings, with 12 of those being decided by a single goal, as this one predictably was tonight. The Ducks handed the Kings their fifth loss in the last six games.
"We played a solid game tonight. We were all positive on the bench," said Ducks center Ryan Kesler. "We got a solid effort from everyone tonight. We have to get back to defense first. For the last little bit we kind of went sideways, but it's nice to see we're back on track."
Following a scoreless first, the Ducks got on the board early in the second, soon after killing a Kings power play, as Ryan Getzlaf made a pretty feed across the slot to Manson, who poured it into the open net for his second goal of the season.
Video: LAK@ANA: Manson buries Getzlaf's cross-ice feed
"Any time Getzy gets the puck and turns up with it on that side of the ice, I know he sees you," Manson said. "He sees everything on the ice. I just tried to find a hole and he put it on my tape."
The Ducks narrowly escaped the game being tied up late in the second, when a puck caromed off the end boards and was nearly pushed over the stripe, while a sprawling Gibson may have gotten a piece of it in the crease.
"If we play like that, we can play with anybody," Gibson said. "At this time of the season, this is how it's going to be. Going into playoffs and towards the end of the year, games are going to be tight. Not much room for error."
Among a number of just-misses down the stretch for both sides was a shot at a wide open net for Joseph Cramarossa with 1:45 left that hit the post, which would have been a huge insurance goal for Anaheim. Then with about 35 seconds left and Kings goalie Peter Budaj on the bench for an extra attacker, Andrew Cogliano missed the empty net from the left wing.
But the Ducks were able to hold off the Kings in the hectic closing moments to seal the victory.
"I thought our defensive game, and our skating game, was at a premium," Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. "It was a team effort, and we're going to need plenty of those down the stretch to find success."
The Ducks turn right around and face the Coyotes in Arizona tomorrow night.
"It puts a 12-point spread between us and them," Carlyle said, referring to the Pacific Division standings in which the Ducks are tied for second. "No matter what happens, 12 points is a lot to make up. They have games in-hand, but it makes a big difference because there's a gap between a team that's chasing us."