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Kings surprise the Ducks, 3-1

L.A. sends Anaheim into the All-Star break with a three-game losing streak as Kopitar, Armstrong and Frolov score in win.

January 25, 2008|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

Fresh from a difficult run of games against some of the Western Conference's best, the Ducks only had the worst to contend with in the Kings on Thursday night in the final game before both teams before the NHL All-Star break.

And it seemed as if more than a few Ducks got an early start on their mini-vacation.

Not impressed by an Anaheim team that has four players headed for Sunday's All-Star game, the Kings easily beat the Ducks, 3-1, to continue their improved play of late in front of 18,118 at Staples Center.

The Kings (20-29-2) are entrenched in last place in the West, but they've won five of seven while sending the defending Stanley Cup champions reeling into the break with a three-game losing streak.

Anze Kopitar, Derek Armstrong and Alexander Frolov each had goals to support Jason LaBarbera, whose only mistake among the 32 shots he faced was Rob Niedermayer's seemingly benign third-period shot that got between his pads.

"We struggled there for a while in November and December and kind of dug ourselves a pretty big hole," LaBarbera said. "The only thing we can do is just keep trying to get better every day and feel better about ourselves."

After an emotional home loss to Detroit on Wednesday, the Ducks (27-20-6) didn't offer up much and failed to regain the Pacific Division lead for the second consecutive night, as first-place Dallas lost to Buffalo.

The Ducks' two first-time All-Stars, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, were kept off the scoresheet, with Getzlaf's point-scoring streak ending at 15 games, two short of the club record set by Teemu Selanne.

The night only got worse late in the final minutes of the game when center Todd Marchant left the ice after getting hit by a slapshot from teammate Mathieu Schneider and winger Travis Moen limped off after a big hit by Armstrong. Marchant suffered a bruised left foot and Moen has bruised ribs.

The Ducks' egos also took a hit.

"We haven't played as good as we could the last three games," said Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who was removed after Frolov's second-period goal.

"This time of the year, it's unacceptable. We need to be a little more desperate in these games."

After Getzlaf and Perry head to Atlanta along with defensemen Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer, the Ducks will reconvene next week to begin a season-long eight-game trip that begins Wednesday at Minnesota.

"Obviously the break is something that's on the schedule," Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle said. "Whatever time it comes, hopefully it'll have a positive effect on your group when you come back out of it.

"We'll use this time to reflect and do some evaluation and set out a plan to go forward after the break because we've got a difficult schedule coming."

The Kings have their own eight-game trip to try to salvage something out of a season that to this point has gone sour.

"We're all going to use the time to recharge and get ready for the last 31 games of the season," Kings Coach Marc Crawford said. "And, again, you want to try and do everything you can to win, and that won't change no matter what happens here."

It was the Kings' youngsters that strutted their stuff with the 34-year-old Armstrong guiding them along. Even rookie Ted Purcell got in the action as he set up Armstrong's goal with a backhanded centering pass for his first point in the NHL.

"A backhand pass like that, that's a world-class pass," Armstrong said. "It was a great play by him. I just kind of closed my eyes and put it in."

--

eric.stephens@latimes.com

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