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Ducks, Kings battle for first place in Pacific

Winner will have inside track to capture division heading into weekend

by Curtis Zupke / Correspondent

DUCKS (44-24-11) at KINGS (47-28-5) 

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET; PRIME, FS-SD, FS-W, SN360
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. --
The Los Angeles Kings are looking to keep their emotions in check when they face the Anaheim Ducks at Staples Center on Thursday in perhaps the biggest regular-season game in series history. 

Los Angeles and Anaheim are tied with 99 points with the Ducks holding a game in hand. Neither team can clinch the Pacific Division, but the winner will have the inside track going into the weekend.

"You want to make sure you … work smart and be in the right position," Kings center Vincent Lecavalier said. "The most important thing is to get the two points. To do that, you need to be a structured team."

Los Angeles seeks its first division title since its only one in 1991. Kings captain Dustin Brown said they are motivated from missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season as the defending champions.

"Initially you're pretty [angry]. If you're not, you're probably not in this League," Brown said. "I think a lot of what was done this year is a result of what happened to us last year. [It was] just how guys prepared, and actually having time to prepare during the offseason."

Defenseman Alec Martinez will miss a third straight game with an undisclosed injury. Martinez was not on the ice at the Kings' practice facility and the Kings have not disclosed if it's an upper- or lower-body injury. He has not skated for several days but is considered day-to-day. 

The Ducks, who are after their fourth straight division title, held their morning skate at Staples Center and their lineup is expected to be unchanged from their last game. Anaheim has won two games at Staples Center this season and is 11-1-2 against the Kings in the past 14 regular-season games.

Anaheim is trying to become the first team since the 1984-85 New York Islanders to lead the NHL in power play and penalty killing.

"Any time you're put in comparison to those early '80s Islanders teams, you're in good stead," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said earlier this week.

Here are the projected lineups:


Jamie McGinn - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry

Andrew Cogliano - Ryan Kesler - Jakob Silfverberg

Mike Santorelli - Shawn Horcoff - Chris Stewart

Ryan Garbutt - Nate Thompson - Chris Wagner

Cam Fowler - Simon Despres

Hampus Lindholm - Josh Manson

Clayton Stoner - Sami Vatanen

John Gibson

Anton Khudobin

Injured: Frederik Andersen (concussion), David Perron (shoulder), Brandon Pirri (upper body), Kevin Bieksa (upper body), Rickard Rakell (appendectomy)

Scratched: Korbinian Holzer


Milan Lucic - Anze Kopitar - Tanner Pearson  

Dustin Brown - Jeff Carter - Tyler Toffoli

Dwight King - Vincent Lecavalier - Trevor Lewis

Kyle Clifford - Andy Andreoff - Kris Versteeg

Brayden McNabb - Drew Doughty

Jake Muzzin - Luke Schenn

Rob Scuderi - Jamie McBain

Jonathan Quick

Jhonas Enroth

Injured: Marian Gaborik (knee), Matt Greene (shoulder), Alec Martinez (undisclosed)

Scratched: Nic Dowd, Nick Shore, Kevin Gravel

Status report: Gibson was first off the ice for Anaheim and Quick was off first for Los Angeles. … Carter was with Kopitar and Lucic in late drills. Boudreau said Rakell isn't skating yet but might skate this weekend.

Who's hot: Carter has four goals and two assists in a four-game point streak. … Toffoli has a three-game point streak. … Silfverberg has two goals and two assists in his past four games. … Perry has three goals in his past five games.

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