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Ducks deliver in shootout

Perry's goal gives Anaheim a 3-2 win over the Kings at Staples Center after teams tie in regulation and overtime.

February 18, 2007|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

What separates the Ducks and Kings is a crevice-like 30 points in the standings. The minuscule gap between them Saturday wasn't established until seven rounds of a shootout.

The Ducks' Corey Perry zeroed in, waited, then glided. Finally, he flicked a shot past Kings goaltender Mathieu Garon. These are the moments the Ducks have to deal with while chasing down the expectations laid at their doorstep last summer.

When Perry's shot went in, the Ducks had survived a sudden-death shootout for a 3-2 victory in front of an announced capacity of 18,118 at Staples Center.

"Games are going to be tough until the end of the season, there's no doubt about that," Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere said. "There's going to be one-goal games and it's important to try to win most of them."

Anointed Stanley Cup contenders before the first game, praised for months as the best in the West, the Ducks are trying to live up to the hype and hang with the Detroit Red Wings and Nashville Predators in the Western Conference.

All the Kings had to lose was another game.

So extending the Ducks through seven rounds in the shootout, getting one point, were highlights for a team that cashed in their playoff hopes a month ago. Teemu Selanne, who had a goal and an assist in regulation, scored in the shootout to keep the Ducks alive and Perry then closed the deal, giving the Ducks a 3-6 record in shootouts.

While the two points kept the Ducks within four points of the Red Wings for the Western Conference lead, all the point did for the last-place Kings was move them within three points of Columbus.

"I don't think we're as far off from being a playoff team as it looks in the standings," said Michael Cammalleri, who had the Kings' only goal in the shootout. "It would have been better to win tonight, for sure, but we have to keep playing hard like this and earn a little respect."

The first period seemed to be an exercise in that.

There were numerous post-whistle shenanigans. There was one fight, a short-lived spin-around between the Ducks' Shane O'Brien and the Kings' Tom Kostopoulus. There were three 10-minute misconduct penalties, the Kings' Aaron Miller and Raitis Ivanans and the Ducks' Samuel Pahlsson.

And there was one goal, when the Kings' Alexander Frolov re-directed a shot with eight seconds left in the period for a 1-0 lead.

"They have pride to play for," Perry said. "There are no easy games in this league. We found that out in January."

The Ducks learned hard lessons Saturday.

They handed the Kings four power plays in the first period, the last of which Frolov converted into a goal, his 31st. Sean O'Donnell then nixed a regulation victory when he turned the puck over with five minutes left. Lubomir Visnovsky intercepted O'Donnell's pass and fed Anze Kopitar for a one-timer that tied the score, 2-2.

"It's important that we get back to where we don't have to think when we hit the ice," defenseman Scott Niedermayer said.

There were Finnish flashes of that from Selanne.

He tied the score, 1-1, when he scoped a rebound and ladled it into the net to tie the score 3:22 into the second period. It was Selanne's 300th goal as a Duck, tying Paul Kariya's franchise record.

"Obviously, it's a nice accomplishment," Selanne said. "But to be honest, I don't think it's a big deal."

Selanne, Chris Kunitz and Andy McDonald then outworked the Kings for the go-ahead goal. McDonald circled the net and tried to slip the puck past Garon, who made a pad save. But Kunitz pounced, jamming the puck in for a 2-1 lead 5:48 into the third period. It was Kunitz's first goal since Jan. 9 and only his third in the last 27 games.

"This is more the type of hockey we are going to see as we go down the stretch," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said.

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chris.foster@latimes.com

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