LOS ANGELES - The Ducks (32-20-10, 74 pts.) take on the LA Kings (29-27-4, 62 pts.) this afternoon at STAPLES Center in their third day game of 2016-17 (1 p.m. PT, Prime Ticket/AM 830). The Ducks have gone 6-1-1 in day games since the start of the 2015-16 season, including a 5-1 win in the most recent afternoon tilt on Dec. 11, 2016 vs. Ottawa. Of Anaheim's 20 remaining regular-season games, 12 will be played at Honda Center and eight will take place on the road. The club's final road schedule is broken down with three games in the Pacific Time Zone, two in the Mountain and three in the Central. The Ducks will enter their five-day break following today's game, the final bye week for an NHL team this season.
This matchup represents the penultimate contest of the five-game Freeway Faceoff between these crosstown rivals. Anaheim has won 13 of the last 18 regular-season games vs. LA (13-3-2), while 12 of the last 17 Ducks-Kings games have been decided by one goal. All-time, the Ducks are 62-44-24 vs. the Kings, including a 26-28-9 mark in LA. Rickard Rakell leads all skaters in scoring during the first three games of the Freeway Faceoff, collecting four points (2g/2a) with a +2 rating. This five-game season series will conclude back at Honda Center in both teams' regular-season finale on Sunday, April 9 (5:30 p.m. PT).
"We're playing our No. 1 rival," said Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle. "We're going to have to play a [big] game in the opposition's building. They're a big, strong team that's desperate for points. More than likely we'll see [Jonathan] Quick if he's at all available. You've got your hands full when you play the Kings."
Quick hasn't played since the season opener, but has been practicing with the team as of late. LA Kings Insider Jon Rosen reported yesterday that Quick was the first goaltender off the ice for practice when previously he'd be among those who stayed on for additional work.
The Kings enter tonight's game with losses in four of their last five games (1-4-0) and six of their last eight (2-6-0).
The Ducks will likely counter with Jonathan Bernier, who is coming off a 26-save performance in a 5-3 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday. With this being the last game before the mandated bye week, Carlyle said it "doesn't make any sense" to play John Gibson today. Gibson is dealing with a lower-body injury and recently underwent an MRI, according to Carlyle, who labeled the injury as a strain. Anaheim won't play again until Friday, March 3 at home against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Today could mark the Ducks debut for Patrick Eaves, who was acquired from the Dallas Stars yesterday for a conditional 2017 second-round draft pick. Eaves co-led Dallas with a career-high 21 goals (tied with Tyler Seguin) and ranked tied for fourth in the NHL with 11 power-play goals at the time of the trade. The 32-year-old right wing appeared in 59 games with the Stars this season, recording a career-high 37 points (21g/16a). Eaves also led the team in power-play goals, ranked third in points and power-play points (16, 11g/5a), and second in shots on goal (154). Eaves will wear No. 18 with the Ducks.
"It's a good team I'm joining, and I'm excited by the way they're playing and the way they're positioned for the playoffs," Eaves said yesterday. "I know the nerves I'm experiencing right now will go away once the game starts. I've had a lot of good opportunities this year, being on the power play and playing a lot of good minutes 5-on-5. Fortunately I haven't been hit by pucks that have done any damage. All those things together have helped me put up the numbers I have this year. Hopefully I can continue the path I'm on with the Ducks here."