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Ducks Grow More Distant From Kings With Victory

Pahlsson's late goal is difference in 2-1 win that helps drop L.A. six points out of playoff spot in the West.

March 05, 2003|Jerry Crowe | Times Staff Writer

The Mighty Ducks got the bounce.

Did the Kings get bounced?

Samuel Pahlsson's goal with 2:44 to play Tuesday night, scored after a clearing pass by King defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky caromed into the slot in front of the King net, gave the Ducks a 2-1 victory in front of 18,118 at Staples Center.

It sucked the life out of the sellout crowd, and also drained some of the life out of the Kings' playoff aspirations. Coupled with the Edmonton Oilers' 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks, it dropped the Kings six points out of a playoff spot.

The Ducks, meanwhile, solidified their hold on seventh place in the Western Conference when Patric Kjellberg chipped the puck off Pahlsson's stick and past goaltender Jamie Storr.

"I was lucky that it hit me," Pahlsson said. "We had a forecheck going and somehow the puck bounced out in front of the net."

With the teams seemingly headed for overtime, the play started innocently enough, with Visnovsky attempting to rim the puck around the boards. But it caromed wildly off the boards, hitting Duck forward Jason Krog and flipping out front.

"When you go to the net, good things happen," Duck Coach Mike Babcock said. "It was just one of those things where we worked hard and a break went our way."

His King counterpart, Andy Murray, seemed to agree.

"They're having a great year," he said of the Ducks, who are 10 points ahead of the Kings, "and maybe that goal went in for them for that reason."

Before Tuesday, the Kings led the season series, 2-1-1, but the Ducks had ended a nine-game winless streak against the Kings with a 6-5 victory Jan. 22 at the Arrowhead Pond, overcoming a 5-3 third-period deficit.

More recently, however, the Ducks had lost two in a row and were in the midst of a 3-5-1 slide. They had scored only four goals in four games.

"We needed a win like this because of the way we played them the last couple of games," Duck goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. "It was a lot different because we played great team defense, instead of being all over the ice.

"Everyone should feel good about this win."

Everyone but the Kings.

With the eighth-place Oilers following the Ducks into Staples Center on Thursday night, the Kings saw this week as their opportunity.

"We battled hard and to lose on a bounce of the puck is really tough," winger Craig Johnson said. "We look at Thursday as a must-win. We win that, we're four points back. If we lose, we've got some ways to go. Thursday we're going to play hard and if we execute our game plan we're going to get the win."

The Ducks took advantage of a two-man advantage early in the second period, King defensemen Mathieu Schneider and Jaroslav Modry in the penalty box after being whistled for fouls late in the first period.

Duck center Adam Oates, parked just outside the goal mouth, took a pass from Paul Kariya, stepped toward Storr and flicked a quick shot over the goaltender's left shoulder. It found the upper right corner of the net, giving the Ducks the game's first goal 44 seconds into the period.

Defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh also assisted on the goal, only the second in 35 power-play opportunities for the Ducks since Feb. 14.

For Ozolinsh, the assist was his 500th point in 728 NHL games.

The Ducks' league-leading penalty-killing unit was busy in the first 40 minutes, killing three penalties in each of the first two periods.

When a seventh King power play bogged down early in the third period, exasperated fans alternately booed and chanted for more offense.

After the penalty had expired, Palffy finally provided some.

A turnover in the neutral zone resulted in Palffy carrying the puck unimpeded into the left faceoff circle, where he rifled a shot past Giguere before the goaltender could react, scoring his 30th goal and 17th in 21 games.

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