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Kings build up to beat Ducks, 5-3

They put struggles aside in victory over division leaders. Cammalleri and O'Sullivan come up big.

March 19, 2007|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

If only the Kings had treated the rest of the National Hockey League the way they have inexplicably messed around with the Pacific Division-leading Ducks, this wayward season of theirs might have looked a lot differently.

However, the Kings can take solace in taking down their rival for the third straight time.

The Kings managed to split their eight games with the Ducks, as Michael Cammalleri's two goals powered them to a 5-3 victory Sunday night at Honda Center.

Thirty-eight points separate a lottery-bound team from one of the NHL's best, but no game between the Kings and the Ducks this season had been decided by more than a goal, until Sunday.

The Kings erased two deficits and largely dominated the game after the first few minutes. Patrick O'Sullivan had the best night of his young career with a goal and two assists, Rob Blake had a power-play goal and Noah Clarke had a back-breaking short-handed score.

For the Kings (25-34-14), who have won three of four, it was another building block.

"I don't know if satisfaction is the word," said Cammalleri, who joined Alexander Frolov in passing the 30-goal barrier. "I think with a team like ours this year where we're obviously not playing in the playoffs, to get something out of this" is good.

The Kings ruined what could have been a momentous night for the Ducks, who were looking to eclipse their franchise record of 43 victories and reach the 100-point mark for the first time.

Little good occurred for the Ducks (43-18-12), who saw second-place San Jose gain a point to pull within six in the Pacific. Dallas also won in overtime to pull to within seven points.

"I give them a lot of respect," Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere said of the Kings. "Every time we've played them this year, they've worked pretty hard. In two games, they've outworked us, to be honest."

The final score doesn't indicate how much the Ducks were outclassed. It may have been more one-sided had it not been for Sean Burke's 4 1/2 -minute, two-shot, no-save misadventure in the Kings' net.

Burke got the start but proceeded to let in Travis Moen's soft goal on a relatively benign shot and poked a loose puck right to the Ducks' Dustin Penner, who banged in another goal.

Figuring he had a night off after a 31-save effort in Saturday's 5-3 win over Columbus, Mathieu Garon was again called on and gave up only Teemu Selanne's 44th goal in the 25 shots he faced.

Garon also got some revenge late in the second period when he stopped Selanne on a penalty shot that could have given the Ducks a two-goal lead.

"I felt really bad for Sean because he's played so well for us," Kings Coach Marc Crawford said. "Unfortunately, it wasn't Sean's night and Matt came in there and played great."

O'Sullivan gave the Kings the lead for good when he slipped by Ducks rookie Kent Huskins and got an easy tap-in off a pass from Frolov.

Earlier, O'Sullivan helped on Cammalleri's two first-period goals as the rookie provided the initial shot on the first one and set up Cammalleri's 31st of the season.

"It was the first game I felt like I could really do whatever I wanted with the puck," O'Sullivan said. "To have that feeling at the highest level of hockey you can get to, it's pretty neat."

Said Crawford: "There is absolutely no question that he has the ability to be a quality player in this league. Whether he is going to work or not is the question. Talent is not the issue with him."

Clarke, a native of La Verne, provided a moment in front of a number of family members and friends when he finished off a two-on-one with Tom Kostopoulos in the first minute of the third as the Ducks were looking to tie the score on the power play.

"What could go wrong, went wrong," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said. "The way we look at it, it was the most important game of the year and we laid an egg."

eric.stephens@latimes.com

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