DUCKS (37-31-9) at KINGS (44-27-6)
Anaheim 7-2-1; Los Angeles 4-5-1
This is the fifth of six meetings and the first half of a home-and-home between the teams. The Kings have taken 3 of 4 this season.
The Ducks are playing well right now, but it's the Kings who are fighting for playoff positioning in the Western Conference.
Gordon Bombay would be proud, as the Ducks have been playing hard -- and well -- in the face of long odds lately. They've won seven of 10, and four of those seven wins have come against the West's top 8.
They lost 5-4 in a shootout to the Canucks on Friday, after a 5-2 dusting of the Avalanche in Colorado in their previous game. The mantra is keep playing hard and let's see what happens.
"Obviously, that was a huge game for them, but at the same time, it was a game that for us, by winning, we still have a chance," Saku Koivu
said after he had a goal and three assists in the win against the Avs. "There's still a couple teams between us and them, so it's going to be a battle to the end and we just have to keep pushing it and see what happens."
After losing four straight, L.A. has won two in a row with rookie Jonathan Bernier
in goal. The latest win was an 8-3 drubbing of the Northwest Division-leading Canucks on Thursday.
Bernier stopped 27 of 30 shots in the win after posting a shutout in a 2-0 victory against the Predators in Nashville on Tuesday. But coach Terry Murray is turning back to Jonathan Quick
for Saturday's game and says that Quick is his guy down the stretch.
"There's no controversy," Murray said. "Jonathan Quick
will play Saturday. He's a big reason the Kings are where they are. Quicker is our guy … [but Bernier] is taking advantage of some opportunities to play and show he's a blue-chipper."
Who's Hot --
Ducks sniper Teemu Selanne has 4 goals and 9 assists in his last eight games. … Kings defenseman Jack Johnson
has 3 assists in his last three games, but he's been a plus-3 in his last four. Not bad for a guy whose minus-15 this season ranks him at the bottom of the League among blueliners in that category.
Injury Report --
Kings goaltender Erik Ersberg (back) is out. Jeff Halpern is questionable with an upper-body injury. … The Ducks could be without the services of goaltender Jonas Hiller
(back) and forward Ryan Getzlaf
Stat Pack --
Before Thursday's eight-goal outburst Los Angeles had scored more than two goals just twice in the last 11 games. … Goaltender Curtis McElhinney, who has only made 17 starts over three NHL seasons, got his fourth straight start on Friday with Hiller out.
Puck Drop --
"We're starting to talk about it," Murray said. "It's not there 'til it's there, but it's getting closer. I'm important that we keep the focus out there, but it's starting to come around again. Everybody is hungry for the playoffs."