KINGS (33-25-12) at DUCKS (30-30-11)
TV: PRIME (HD), KDOC (HD)
Los Angeles 6-4-0; Anaheim 4-5-1
This is the sixth and final edition of this season's Freeway Faceoff, which has been dominated by Los Angeles. The Kings have won all three matchups at home -- two in shootouts -- and have split the two games in Anaheim to take four of the first five meetings overall. Teemu Selanne
is tops on the Ducks with five assists and six points, while Kings center Mike Richards
leads players from both squads with four goals and seven points. L.A.'s All-Star goaltender Jonathan Quick
has been in net for all five games of the season series, posting a 2.14 goals-against average and .923 save percentage.
Big Story: With the Western Conference playoff picture as crowded as the 405 at rush hour, both of these teams are in dire need of points -- though the Kings' postseason hopes are much more realistic. Each club is coming off a home victory over injury-riddled Detroit, but there is still much work to be done to finish in the top eight in the West by April 7. With 78 points, Los Angeles is outside the top eight. Meanwhile, Anaheim's playoff chances are flickering -- the Ducks are 12th and would need a long winning streak to make a move.
Kings: If the Kings don't make the playoffs, they might look back to last Friday's 4-3 loss in Detroit, in which they blew a late lead and came away with no points. However, that wasn't the case when the teams met again on Tuesday at the Staples Center, as L.A. led wire-to-wire and posted a 5-2 victory to avoid a season sweep by the Red Wings.
"We were so disappointed in that loss because there was no way we should have given away those two points," said Drew Doughty, who recorded his first assist in 19 games and his first multi-point night since Feb. 1. "We learned from that game, and we're using that. … All that we can control is the games that we are winning. Hopefully some other teams lose some for us."
Doughty, Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams and Jeff Carter all notched a goal and an assist, and Quick made 22 saves in Los Angeles' fifth win in seven games. After this short trip to Anaheim, the Kings play their next four games at home, where they are 18-13-4.
Ducks: A game like the Ducks played on Wednesday could leave you scratching your head and wondering how this club isn't headed for the postseason. Led by a pair of goals from Kyle Palmieri, Anaheim shut out Detroit 4-0, blanking the Wings at home for the first time in franchise history. Jonas Hiller -- in his 30th straight start -- made 23 saves for his 15th career shutout and Selanne reached yet another milestone, just two days after supplanting Jari Kurri as the NHL's all-time leading scorer from Finland. With Kurri in attendance Wednesday, Selanne registered his 1,400th career point when he gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead midway through the second period with his 23rd goal of the season. Selanne, who leads the team with 60 points at age 41, joined Jaromir Jagr and Stan Mikita as the only European-born players to hit the 1,400-point mark.
But after the game, Selanne put much of the attention on the 21-year-old Palmieri, who was recalled Monday in place of the injured Corey Perry. Palmieri, the 26th overall pick in the 2009 Entry Draft, produced his first multi-goal effort in his 23rd NHL game.
"Kyle is a great skater, and he's got an unbelievable shot," Selanne said. "He doesn't really have any weaknesses. So the next step for the young guy is the confidence. He has all the tools and I'm expecting he's going to be really, really good in this League. That was fun to watch when the young guys come in and have success."
The win snapped a three-game skid for the Ducks, whose 2-5-1 record in their last eight has all but dropped them out of serious playoff contention. They do play five of their next six at home, though, and have won 12 of 15 at the Honda Center.
Who's Hot: Kings captain Dustin Brown had two assists against the Wings to extend his points streak to nine games, matching a career-high. He has five goals and nine assists in that span. Carter has goals in three straight and has five goals and two assists in nine games since being traded from Columbus. ... Ducks winger Bobby Ryan has points in five of his last seven with three goals and four assists in that stretch.
Injury Report: Los Angeles is still without forwards Simon Gagne (concussion) and Scott Parse (hip). … Anaheim center Nick Bonino logged nearly 14 minutes of ice-time on Wednesday after missing the prior two games with a leg injury. Both Corey Perry (shoulder) and Luca Sbisa (back spasms) have missed the last two games and are questionable for Friday, while goalie Dan Ellis (sports hernia) and Matt Smaby (right thumb) remain on IR.
Stat Pack: The Kings are 82-0-6 in their last 88 games when leading after two periods. … Los Angeles has killed 32 consecutive penalties over its last 10 games. … In Hiller's 30 straight starts, he is 17-8-5 with a 1.90 GAA and a .927 save percentage. … With 247 career power-play goals, Selanne is one away from passing Luc Robitaille for fourth all-time.
Puck Drop: Most players deny that they have an eye on the out-of-town scoreboard this time of year. Brown is not one of them.
"We have to take care of our own game," he said. "But with the way it is and the amount of games left, you always scoreboard-watch just because it's so tight. Ultimately, we have to win games for us to have a chance, and that's our main priority. Afterward, you have to worry about what happened around the League."