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Ducks win in shootout, clinch top seed in West

by Curtis Zupke

LOS ANGELES -- It didn't really matter what transpired after 10:01 p.m. Pacific Time for the Anaheim Ducks. The Western Conference top seed was all theirs.

Devante Smith-Pelly simply put the finishing touch on a 4-3 shootout win against the Los Angeles Kings with a goal in the fourth round at Staples Center on Saturday night.

Anaheim will play the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference First Round series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs next week. The Ducks needed one point and they secured it by going to overtime after they traded late third-period goals with their rivals in the season-series finale.

"Anytime you have an opportunity to close somebody out and solidify your spot, that's what you want to do," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "Our team showed that tonight. We're able to do that and grasp that opportunity. It's good visual and mental health for us."

Getzlaf didn't have immediate thoughts on playing Dallas. Defenseman Stephane Robidas, traded by the Stars to Anaheim prior to the NHL Trade Deadline, said he didn't want to be a storyline but acknowledged the emotions.

"I have a lot of friends [in Dallas], a lot of good teammates," Robidas said. "There's guys that stayed at [my] house last year and this year. But it's a game and it's playoffs and I want to win. They want to win. At one point you put the friendship aside. Once the series is over, we'll be friends again. That's the way I see it."

The Kings were going for a franchise-record 47th win. They outshot the Ducks 23-10 in the final 40 minutes and got a 45-second two-man advantage in the third, but didn't convert. Anaheim went 4-0-1 against Los Angeles this season, but it will soon be forgotten.

The Kings have long since secured third place in the Pacific Division and have been locked into a first-round matchup with the San Jose Sharks.

"We have a day off [Sunday] and I think getting back into the rink, we will start to really think about it," Kings captain Dustin Brown said. "It is kind of like one of those games that went by quick, but also went by slow at the same time."

Jonathan Quick and Los Angeles clinched a share of the William M. Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals allowed after Quick made 21 saves. The other candidate, the Boston Bruins, play the New Jersey Devils on Sunday. The Kings allowed a franchise-record low 168 goals, excluding shootout goals, which bested the 170 from the Cup-winning 2011-12 season.

"It's one of those awards that I think represents who we are as a group. [Quick] is a big part of that," Brown said. "We've always been on the fringe the past three or four years, in the top five-six teams. To win it would be huge for our team. It's one of those awards that doesn't get a lot of media play, but it's a big part of the success we have here."

Smith-Pelly snapped it past Quick for the only goal of the shootout. It came after a frenzied overtime that seemingly had almost as many chances as the entire regulation. Anaheim had a 6-2 shot advantage, but neither could continue the late-regulation momentum.

It was an ironic game-winning goal and night for Smith-Pelly, a late-season recall who filled in for the rested Teemu Selanne and also contributed a second-period goal, his second of the season. He wasn't entirely expecting Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau to tap him to go out for his first career shootout attempt.

Asked if he'd had an NHL attempt prior, Smith-Pelly said, "Never, never. I'd be 15th or 16th on the list. Once [Rickard Rakell] went, I figured maybe was coming, but it was a little bit of a surprise."

The Kings tied it 3-3 on Anze Kopitar's second goal with 3:12 left in regulation when he faked around Getzlaf at the top of the left circle and fired it past goalie Frederik Andersen. Anaheim grabbed a 3-2 lead when Matt Beleskey beat Quick with a snap shot from the right wing at 15:13 of the third.

Kopitar scored his 28th and 29th goals of the season and easily led the Kings in scoring for the seventh straight season. He made it 2-2 on a wraparound goal 48 seconds into the third.

"He's clearly the MVP of our team this year, for sure, in the regular season," coach Darryl Sutter said. "He's played the last little bit like he's getting ready for the next step."

The Kings recognized Selanne and presented him with a Ducks-themed standup paddleboard in a pre-game ceremony for his final regular-season appearance at Staples Center. Selanne will play in his final regular-season game, the 1,451st of his career, on Sunday against the Colorado Avalanche at Honda Center.

Asked if there will be a lot of passing of the puck to Selanne, Getzlaf smiled and said, "I don't know, we'll see. T's played a long time in this League, and I'm sure he'll want to go out the way he came in."

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