Mighty Ducks-Kings Preview
GAME: Anaheim Mighty Ducks (22-17-10) at Los Angeles Kings (30-20-3).
TIME: Saturday, 4 p.m. EST.
The Los Angeles Kings have suffered back-to-back losses three times this month, something that happened only once in the first three months of the season.
The Kings, 3-6-1 in their last 10 games, try to avoid a third consecutive defeat when they host the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the opener of a home-and-home series, the teams' third meeting in six days.
The Kings held a one-goal lead midway through the second period Thursday, but gave up three unanswered goals en route to a 5-3 loss to Edmonton.
The Kings are in second place in the Pacific Division, five points behind Dallas, but they've earned only 11 points in 12 games this month. Los Angeles hasn't dropped three in a row since four-game losing streak from Nov. 28-Dec. 3.
"Right now we're playing a conference game every night. It's desperation time," said Luc Robitaille, who had a goal Thursday. "We essentially have to get in playoff mode."
Craig Conroy had a short-handed goal and an assist for the Kings and Michael Cammalleri added a power-play goal, but Mathieu Garon allowed five or more goals for just the third time this season.
The loss made for a disappointing return for defenseman Aaron Miller, who had been sidelined since Dec. 21 with back spasms.
"The outcome was not what I was looking for in my first game back," said Miller, who missed 16 games. "I feel better than I thought I would, even though it took a little time to get back into it."
While the Kings try to work out of their slump, the Mighty Ducks hope to gain momentum from their second shutout in four games.
Ilya Bryzgalov made 24 saves, including 14 in the final period, to earn his first career shutout in a 2-0 win over San Jose on Thursday.
"It's not much fun when you stay two periods in the net and don't get that many shots," said Bryzgalov, who improved to 8-10-1. "In the third period, I actually felt a lot better. It's a great feeling to finally get a shutout."
Bryzgalov got the start after Jean-Sebastien Giguere lost his temper in a 6-3 loss to Edmonton on Wednesday night. Giguere twice went after the Oilers' Ryan Smyth after the left wing apparently obstructed him, landing punches to Smyth's head and earning a misconduct penalty.
Former Sharks forward Teemu Selanne had two assists for the Ducks, who responded impressively from the erratic loss to Edmonton.
"To go from one end of the spectrum to the other, there's a lot of positives from that," coach Randy Carlyle said. "Bryz hasn't played in a while, and that's as good a game as he's played for us all year."
Ducks defenseman Ruslan Salei left the game late in the first period with a nasty cut over his left eye, but Anaheim still managed to improve to 15-for-15 on the penalty kill in the last two games.
The Kings have won five straight at home against the Mighty Ducks, including Monday's 3-2 shootout win.
STANDINGS: Mighty Ducks - 54 points, 3rd place, 14 PB, Pacific Division. Kings - 63 points, 2nd place, 5 PB, Pacific Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Mighty Ducks - Selanne, 22 goals and 43 points; Scott Niedermayer, 27 assists; Todd Fedoruk, 104 PIM. Kings - Pavol Demitra, 20 goals and 50 points; Lubomir Visnovsky, 34 assists; Sean Avery, 178 PIM.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Mighty Ducks - Power play: 15.9 percent (46 for 289), 22nd in NHL. Penalty killing: 85.0 percent (273 for 321), 5th. Kings - Power play: 15.1 percent (54 for 357), 25th. Penalty killing: 80.1 percent (265 for 331), 24th.
GOALTENDERS: Mighty Ducks - Giguere (14-7-9, 1 SO, 2.72 GAA); Bryzgalov (8-10-1, 2.48). Kings - Garon (21-11-1, 2, 2.74); Jason LaBarbera (9-8-2, 3.26).
SEASON SERIES: Kings, 3-1.
LAST MEETING: Monday; Kings 3-2, SO. At Los Angeles, Robitaille scored the tying goal in the third period and Joe Corvo got the deciding goal in the shootout to lift the Kings.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mighty Ducks - 7-10-6 on the road; Kings - 17-8-1 at home.