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Kings Rule Rivalry After Sinking Ducks

L.A. takes advantage of nine power plays to defeat Anaheim, 5-1, and finish the season with a 4-1-1 record against last year's Cup finalist.

March 15, 2004|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

The Kings spent most of Sunday in the Mighty Ducks' zone, an appropriate metaphor as the Southern California hockey landscape tilted from one end of the rink to the other.

The Kings were aided by power plays aplenty -- the Ducks surrendered a season-high nine -- and kept their playoff hopes alive and well while officially snaring the local title the Ducks got to carry around for a season in lieu of hoisting the Stanley Cup last June.

Luc Robitaille, Nathan Dempsey and Trent Klatt each had a goal and two assists, and Anson Carter scored his first point as a King in a 5-1 victory in front of a jubilant crowd of 18,118 at Staples Center.

The Kings finished 4-1-1 against the Ducks this season, the second-highest winning percentage for either team in an 11-season rivalry.

On top of it, King Coach Andy Murray tied Bob Pulford's team record for career victories with 178 as the Kings moved ahead of the St. Louis Blues and into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Almost every box was filled on the Kings' checklist, 24 hours after a listless 3-1 loss Saturday to the San Jose Sharks.

Dempsey continued to make an immediate impact with his second goal in six games since being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks. Robitaille continued a season-long mission to erase the memory of last season's career-low 11-goal effort with his 21st goal.

And Alexander Frolov, the Kings' leading goal-scorer, looked livelier than he did Saturday against the Sharks. Frolov, benched for part of the San Jose game, played almost 20 minutes against the Ducks and scored his 23rd goal on an empty-netter with 46 seconds left.

"It would be very difficult today for us to pick out players who we didn't think were positive factors in the game, and I thought Alexander was a positive factor," Murray said.

The Kings have been short-staffed all season because of injuries, but they couldn't make any short-handed claims Sunday.

The Ducks were short-handed for 16:19 of the first two periods, surrendering two five-on-three advantages and two four-minute power plays among their nine penalties. But the Kings, who came into the game with the NHL's 27th-best power play, converted only once.

Robitaille finally broke through with a power-play goal at 13:47 of the second period, knocking in the puck a split second after Klatt hit the right post. The goal gave the Kings a 2-0 lead.

"Except for the power plays, everything was going real good," Robitaille said. "You want to be a playoff team, you've got to score on five-on-threes." Robitaille has 1,367 career points, two behind John Bucyk for most points by a left wing. Robitaille already holds the record for goals by a left wing with 652.

Carter hit a smaller milestone in his fourth game with the Kings -- his first point, an assist, since being acquired Monday from the Washington Capitals.

Carter was the middle part of a tic-tac-toe goal that started with Sean Avery's pass to him and finished with his pinpoint pass to Ian Laperriere. The goal gave the Kings a 4-0 lead at 5:17 of the third period.

"I thought Anson probably played his best game for us today," Murray said. "I thought he was physically involved. His legs were moving. I think Anson's first three games would not be seen as the kind of hockey we want him to play, but I felt today was."

The Ducks' lone highlight came on Sergei Fedorov's slap shot at 9:51 of the third period, his 25th goal of the season.

"For intensity in a rivalry, you've got to have two parts," Duck Coach Mike Babcock said. "We've got to live up to our end better. I thought at the end of last year we had taken over. They took over today."

It will be up to the Kings to maintain the intensity of their victory. Although Murray would never admit it, Tuesday's game against the Blues is the most important of their season so far.

"Every game is a battle, and we've got 11 games left and we can anticipate the same thing the rest of the way," he said.

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Eighth Is Enough

Western Conference race. Top eight teams advance to the playoffs.

*--* POS. TEAM PTS. WINS GR 1. Detroit* 96 42 11 2. Colorado* 93 38 10 3. San Jose* 87 35 11 4. Vancouver 87 37 10 5. Dallas 84 36 10 6. Calgary 82 36 10 7. Nashville 79 33 10 8. Kings 79 28 11 9. St. Louis 78 33 10 10. Edmonton 74 29 10

*--*

*Division leaders; GR: Games remaining

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