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Ducks, Kings to face off for first time in playoffs

by Brian Compton

The Anaheim Ducks entered the NHL in 1993. Twenty-one years later, they will face the Los Angeles Kings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time.

Los Angeles became the fourth team in League history to come back from a 3-0 series deficit when they earned a 5-1 victory against the San Jose Sharks in Game 7 of their Western Conference First Round series Wednesday.

It sets up the first-ever playoff series between the Kings and Ducks, who are separated by roughly 30 miles on the I-5 Freeway.

Game 1 is scheduled to take place Saturday at Honda Center in Anaheim (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).

"This highly anticipated Kings-Ducks playoff series will capture the excitement and the imagination of the most casual hockey and sports fan in Southern California in addition to our loyal, die-hard Kings fans," Kings President of Business Operations Luc Robitaille said. "We believe this series can help continue to spur even more interest in our great sport in our great city."

Anaheim has been idle since Sunday; the Ducks beat the Dallas Stars in six games in their first-round series. The Ducks rallied from a 4-2 deficit late in the third period before Nick Bonino's second goal of the night at 2:47 of overtime sent Anaheim into the second round.

The Ducks entered the postseason with home-ice advantage through at least the first three rounds after finishing atop the conference with 116 points (54-20-8). Los Angeles (46-28-8) finished third in the Pacific Division and was forced to win a Game 7 on the road to get by the Sharks in the opening round.

Anaheim and Los Angeles faced each other five times during the regular season; the Ducks dropped a 3-2 shootout decision Dec. 13 at Honda Center, then went on to win the next four games against the Kings, allowing five goals.

Despite the offensive firepower on each side, the Ducks and Kings struggled on the power play during the regular season. Anaheim ranked 22nd at 16 percent, and Los Angeles finished 27th with a conversion rate of 15.1 percent.

Anaheim was successful with the man advantage against Dallas though. The Ducks scored six goals on 14 power-play opportunities. Center Mathieu Perreault scored twice on the power play against the Stars.

The Kings' power play was also better. Los Angeles scored six times with the man advantage on 24 opportunities against San Jose.

Forwards Ryan Getzlaf (three goals, four assists) and Corey Perry (two goals, five assists) were excellent for Anaheim in the first round.

Anze Kopitar led the way for Los Angeles in the first round; the 26-year-old center had 10 points (four goals, six assists) in the seven games against San Jose.

Goaltender Jonathan Quick was the backbone for Los Angeles in the opening round and led the Kings to victory in Game 7 in a 39-save performance. He will likely be matched up in the Western Conference Second Round against Anaheim's Jonas Hiller, who came on in relief of Frederik Andersen on two occasions in the first round, including the game-clinching victory. Hiller has stopped all 13 shots he's faced this postseason.

Quick is 33-24 lifetime with a 2.15 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and eight shutouts in the playoffs. Hiller is 11-10 with a 2.24 GAA and .936 save percentage.

Should Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau opt to go back to Andersen, the 24-year-old rookie had a 3.40 GAA and .892 save percentage in six starts against Dallas after he went 20-5-0 with a 2.29 GAA and .923 save percentage in the regular season.

Quick has a championship on his resume after helping the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2012. Hiller, who is chasing his first ring, is playing for a new contract; the 32-year-old can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.


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