|Jonathan Quick will be back in net for the Kings vs. Anaheim on Saturday night.
An offensive explosion has the Los Angeles Kings nearly certain to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002. The Anaheim Ducks' postseason chances appear to be slipping away.
The Kings try to continue closing in on a playoff berth Saturday night when they host the Ducks in the opener of a home-and-home set.
Los Angeles (44-27-6) has failed to reach the playoffs for six consecutive seasons, but is poised to end that streak.
The Kings are seventh in the Western Conference, five points ahead of an eighth-place tie between Colorado and Calgary with five games to play. A win over Anaheim (37-31-9) and a Flames loss at Chicago on Sunday would clinch a playoff spot for Los Angeles.
"We're starting to talk about it," Kings coach Terry Murray said. "It's not there 'til it's there, but it's getting closer. It's important that we keep the focus out there, but it's starting to come around again. Everybody is hungry for the playoffs."
The Kings still have time to improve their seeding. They trail sixth-place Detroit by one point and are two points behind Nashville for fifth.
Los Angeles scored the first five goals Thursday en route to an 8-3 home win over Northwest Division-leading Vancouver.
"It was a huge statement game for us," said right wing Dustin Brown
, who netted his second career hat trick and added an assist. "They're a possible playoff opponent for us, and at this point of the year, it's great."
The Kings will have Jonathan Quick
back in net Saturday after he rested the last two games in favor of rookie Jonathan Bernier
, who won both with a 1.50 goals-against average.
Quick's last four starts have resulted in losses and a 3.99 GAA, but Murray insisted there's no controversy. The Kings sent Bernier back to the minors Friday after activating backup Erik Ersberg (back) from injured reserve.
"(Quick) is a big reason the Kings are where they are," Murray said. "Quicker is our guy ... (but Bernier) is taking advantage of some opportunities to play and show he's a blue-chipper."
Quick, who started 68 of the Kings' first 75 games, has already set a single-season franchise record with 39 wins. He's 5-1-0 with a 2.85 GAA and a shutout lifetime against the Ducks. The loss came in Anaheim on Feb. 8, when he made 29 saves in a 4-2 road defeat.
A fifth consecutive playoff appearance is looking increasingly unlikely for the Ducks, who are six points behind the Avalanche and Flames with five games to play. They failed to improve their chances Friday, falling 5-4 in a shootout at home against Vancouver.
Veterans Teemu Selanne and Saku Koivu are doing their part to keep Anaheim in contention. Selanne has four goals and nine assists in his last eight games, while Koivu has three goals and four assists in his last two. They've combined for two goals and four assists in the last two matchups with the Kings.
Selanne's two goals Friday gave him 603 for his career and moved him ahead of friend and Finnish countryman Jari Kurri (601) for 17th all-time. Only Jaromir Jagr (646) has more goals among European-born players in league history.
"I'd rather not pass him and get these points to give us a chance (at the playoffs)," Selanne said. "It's tough to lose the one point (Friday)."
The Ducks and Kings conclude their season series Tuesday in Anaheim.