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Anaheim Ducks vs. Los Angeles Kings @NHLdotcom
Mighty Ducks-Kings Preview

GAME: Anaheim Mighty Ducks (22-25-9-8) at Los Angeles Kings (24-17-15-7).

TIME: Saturday, 4 p.m. EST.

If the Anaheim Mighty Ducks can't make the playoffs, damaging the chances of the rival Los Angeles Kings might be the next best thing.

Both teams will try to move a step closer to the postseason when they meet at Staples Center in the opener of a home-and-home series.

The Kings are tied with Calgary for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference with St. Louis trailing by two points. Anaheim is nine points back of Calgary and Los Angeles, making Saturday's matchup important for both teams.

Despite playing without several injured regulars, the Kings have continued to play well. They have at least a point in eight of 10 games this month (3-2-3-2), and are coming off a 1-1 tie at Dallas on Wednesday.

Alexander Frolov scored his team-leading 20th goal of the season with 5:55 left in regulation, and Cristobal Huet turned aside 26 shots.

"It was a big goal for us," Kings coach Andy Murray said. "The game's on the line there. He breaks through a couple of guys, pushes his way to the net and scores. He's a great player. He's a horse. It's nice to see him take over."

With Roman Cechmanek still sidelined with a groin injury, Huet is expected to make his sixth consecutive start Saturday. In his last five starts, Huet has allowed just six goals.

"He was huge for us," Kings coach Andy Murray said of Huet. "He has come up so big the past two games. But he always gives us a strong effort."

Anaheim has also played well lately, going 6-2-1-1 in its last 10.

Two goals from rookie Joffrey Lupul and 26 saves by Jean-Sebastien Giguere led the Mighty Ducks to a 4-2 victory over visiting Edmonton on Wednesday.

Giguere needs to finish very strong if Anaheim is going to make a run at the playoffs. The reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner has been solid of late, holding six of the last eight opponents to two goals or fewer.

"It makes it a lot easier on everyone when you know Jiggy's going to be back there making big saves," Lupul said. "He had a tough time earlier in the year, but a lot of it was our fault. The blame seemed to be put on him, but we weren't playing the way we should be. Lately we have been playing well and he's been doing a great job for us."

These teams meet again Sunday afternoon in Anaheim.

STANDINGS (through Feb. 26): Mighty Ducks - 61 points, 4th place, 16 PB, Pacific Division. Kings - 70 points, 3rd place, 7 PB, Pacific Division.

TEAM LEADERS: Mighty Ducks - Sergei Fedorov, 21 goals, 30 assists and 51 points; Garrett Burnett, 105 PIM. Kings - Frolov, 20 goals; Jozef Stumpel, 26 assists; Frolov and Ziggy Palffy, 41 points; Sean Avery, 220 PIM.

SPECIAL TEAMS (through Feb. 26): Mighty Ducks - Power play: 16.7 percent (42 for 251), 12th in NHL. Penalty killing: 84.6 percent (230 for 272), 13th. Kings - Power play: 14.1 percent (39 for 276), 24th. Penalty killing: 80.5 percent (223 for 277), 29th.

GOALTENDERS: Mighty Ducks - Giguere (12-24-5, 2 SO, 2.65 GAA); Martin Gerber (10-9-4, 2, 2.28). Kings - Huet (6-7-9, 3, 2.44); Mathieu Chouinard (no appearances).

SEASON SERIES: Kings, 2-0-1.

LAST MEETING: Jan. 24; Kings, 4-2. At Los Angeles, Avery and Joe Corvo scored early in the second period and Cechmanek stopped 30 shots to lead the Kings.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mighty Ducks - 7-18-3-4 on the road; Kings - 12-9-8-1 at home.

Associated Press
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