Only two questions remained after the Kings and Mighty Ducks had played five minutes Wednesday: Would King goaltender Kelly Hrudey get a shutout and would the Kings announce the attendance as a sellout, despite the clusters of empty seats that dotted the Forum?
Hrudey lost his shutout when Jason York scored with 53.5 seconds to play, but the Kings still romped. Taking advantage of repeated defensive mistakes by the Ducks, they cruised to a 7-1 victory before an announced sellout crowd of 16,005.
The sellout was officially their third in 20 home games this season. They've previously announced attendance figures that seemed to be contradicted by the number of vacant seats in the stands.
Kevin Todd scored twice as the Kings (14-14-8) ended an 0-2-2 slump. Hrudey made 32 saves Wednesday, the first time he had played back-to-back games this season. He sat out the first six weeks of the season because of an injured ankle.
The Ducks (13-22-3) extended their losing streak to five games, their longest of the season. In addition, they have a winless streak of 0-5-2 on the road.
Duck goalie Mikhail Shtalenkov was pulled by Coach Ron Wilson 5:50 into the second period. He yielded three goals on 24 shots, but he couldn't be blamed for the 3-0 deficit the Ducks faced when he was replaced by Guy Hebert.
Wilson, who had cited fatigue and injuries as causes for his team's 6-2 loss to Vancouver last Friday, had no excuses Wednesday. The Ducks had Saturday, Sunday and Monday to rest, and they also regained winger Valeri Karpov, who had been idle since Oct. 23 because of a fractured wrist.
The Kings took a season-high 23 shots in the first period, peppering Shtalenkov during three power plays. The 23 shots were the most allowed by the Ducks in a period this season.
Left wing Eric Lacroix, who consistently plays a physical and energetic game, showed off his scoring talents at 9:10 on a well-executed play. He took a pass from Gary Shuchuk, who was standing behind the goal line and, before Shtalenkov could prepare for a shot, quickly flicked the puck past the Duck goalie. The goal was his sixth.
The Kings gained a power play when Joe Sacco was sent off for slashing at 15:13, and they enjoyed a two-man advantage after Bobby Dollas was penalized for cross-checking just 10 seconds later. The Kings wasted little time, as Yanic Perreault took a pass from Wayne Gretzky and threw the puck toward the net in an apparent centering attempt. Duck defenseman David Karpa slid across the crease in an effort to block the pass but it bounced into the net.
Perreault was credited with the goal, his 13th. He leads the Kings in goals.
The Kings continued to dominate play in the second period, scoring a short-handed goal that delighted the crowd and gave them a 3-0 lead. All the work was done by Pat Conacher, the 36-year-old forward whose efforts often go unnoticed by fans. He intercepted a pass in the Kings' zone and chugged up ice with determination. Although far from the fastest skater on the team, he protected the puck with his body and fended off an attempt by Duck winger Paul Kariya to lean on him as he cut from the middle of the ice toward the right-wing boards.
As he headed for the net, Conacher moved the puck from his backhand to his forehand before jabbing it between Shtalenkov's left shoulder and the post for his fifth goal of the season. The Kings had previously scored only four short-handed goals this season, among the lowest totals in the NHL.
Capitalizing on the Ducks' dreadful defensive play, the Kings scored twice within 12 seconds late in the second period to take a 5-0 lead.
Robert Lang, who had scored his first goal of the season last Saturday against Colorado, had a perfect setup from John Druce for his second goal. Druce beat Karpa to a loose puck in the Ducks' zone, kept possession along the boards and flicked a pass toward the net. Lang, trailing the play, had no difficulty tapping the puck past a befuddled Hebert at 17:37.
Off the faceoff that followed Lang's goal, Kevin Todd was set up by Shuchuk for a semi-breakaway, which he finished off with a point-blank shot. The goal was Todd's seventh.
They increased their margin to 6-0 in the opening minute of the third period, when Todd converted a rebound for his second goal of the game, and Rick Tocchet recorded his first goal since Nov. 30 when he jammed the puck between Hebert's right leg and the post at 10:58.
King and Duck Notes
The Kings lead the teams' all-time series 7-4-2. . . . King left wing Dimitri Khristich missed his second game in a row because of a concussion. . . . Duck defenseman Robert Dirk was scratched due to a coach's decision.