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Ducks visit Kings in Freeway Faceoff renewal

by Matthew Mankiewich

DUCKS (27-23-7) at KINGS (34-19-3)

Last 10 -- Anaheim 6-4-0, Los Angeles 9-1-0

Season series -- It's the third meeting of six for these Southern California rivals, and the first of two in four days. The first two went to the Kings, the latest a 4-0 shutout of the Ducks on Jan. 14 in StaplesCenter, making it four wins in a row dating back to last season.

Big story -- It's always a big deal when these two teams meet, but the last meeting kicked things up a notch. It was a dominant performance by the Kings as they became the last Western Conference team to log a shutout this season, and it was suitably chippy. The teams combined for 69 penalty minutes in the third period alone and 87 for the game, a season high for the Kings at least. More important for the Kings, they're working on a seven-game winning streak, while the Ducks have won three in a row overall and nine in a row at home after beating Detroit 3-1 on Wednesday.

Team scope

Ducks -- Jonas Hiller got a commitment from the Ducks in the form of a contract extension and a trade of Jean-Sebastien Giguere to Toronto. Now the undisputed No. 1 one goalie in town, he's played like it -- allowing only two goals in his last three games. The Swiss Olympian made a season-high 46 saves in an important win over the Red Wings.

"It's fun to play if you get a lot of shots, but it's also a little tiring," Hiller said. "We found a way to win tonight."

The win, their ninth straight in the Honda Center, brought the Ducks within three points of the Wings for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

Kings -- When these two teams last met, the Kings were struggling to stay in the top eight in the conference. A seven-game tear, one shy of the franchise record, has brought them within two points of the Coyotes for fourth place.

They did it by keeping things simple throughout their 5-0-0 road trip and then again at home against the Rangers on Tuesday, holding Marian Gaborik to a goal and exposing Jonathan Quick to only 21 shots in a 2-1 win in what could have been a trap game, coming only a day after returning from the East Coast.

"It's hard, coming back that first game with one day off," Kings coach Terry Murray told the team's Web site. "There's no question, that's probably the most difficult thing a team has to face, as far as a challenge. We talked about it in our pregame. I brought it up, obviously, the importance of bringing that attitude. There were five wins on the road, and now bringing that back in front of your home (fans), but bringing that hard work, no cutting corners."

Who's hot -- L.A.'s Anze Kopitar has a seven-game point streak (5 goals, 6 assists), one shy of the career high he set two seasons ago. Quick's seven consecutive wins tie a franchise record, set by Kelly Hrudey (1991-92) and Robb Stauber the following season.

Hiller's three straight wins are part of an 11-3-0 run in his last 14 games. Ryan Getzlaf had two assists Wednesday, giving him points in 11 of his last 12 games.

Injury report -- Ducks forward Joffrey Lupul is still recovering from back surgery, while Kings defenseman Davis Drewiske (shoulder) has been participating in practices and morning skates, but remains on IR.

Stat pack -- Anaheim's Bobby Ryan is tied with Zach Parise of New Jersey for the League lead in goals (25) among American-born players. … Pavel Datsyuk's goal at 19:50 of the second period Wednesday snapped a 155:03 shutout streak for Hiller, the longest of his career. Quick's 32 wins are three shy of tying Mario Lessard's single-season record of 35, set in 1980-81. … The Kings reached the 34-win plateau in the fewest games (56) in franchise history.

Puck drop -- While the Kings are higher up in the standings, the fight for playoff seedings is no less intense whether a team is fifth or 11th, which may take precedence over any past animosities between the Southern California rivals.

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