Once again veering off in opposite directions, the Kings and Ducks reversed course Thursday in a game that could have significant playoff implications.
The Kings halted a three-game losing streak that had dropped them out of the top eight in the West for the first time since Oct. 21, recording an emphatic 4-0 victory at Staples Center while ending the Ducks' five-game winning streak and damaging their faint playoff hopes.
Jonathan Quick stopped 22 shots to earn his fifth career shutout and first this season. He was supported by goals from Michal Handzus, Scott Parse, Dustin Brown -- the 100th of his career -- and Wayne Simmonds, who chased a shaky Jonas Hiller during the second period.
"This was probably our best game in a while," Brown said after the Kings regained a one-point edge over the Detroit Red Wings, who had vaulted into eighth earlier Thursday after beating Carolina.
The game grew nasty as the Kings expanded their lead and erupted in a second-period fight between Simmonds and Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf. It turned ugly with eight seconds left in the third period after Ducks winger Bobby Ryan recklessly slammed Kings forward Oscar Moller headfirst into the end boards.
Ryan got a minor penalty, a major penalty and a game misconduct -- all deserved -- and might get suspended by the NHL. The teams combined for 69 penalty minutes in the third period and 87 total, the most in any game the Kings have played this season.
"I thought he came really late. Oscar wasn't really looking. He came from out of nowhere," Simmonds said. "I thought we responded well to that. Oscar jumped up and dropped the gloves right away and everyone on the team jumped in, so we stuck together."
Quick said he didn't have an ideal view of the hit but thought it was "a little bit of a cheap shot" and left it to the NHL to decide if Ryan merits more punishment.
The Ducks had already suffered a potentially serious loss when center Saku Koivu suffered a lower-body injury during the second period and didn't return.
Koivu, who appeared to get tangled up with someone after a faceoff, is scheduled to undergo tests today to determine the severity of the problem. His Finnish compatriot and linemate, Teemu Selanne, suffered a broken jaw Wednesday and underwent surgery Thursday that will keep him out of the lineup two to six weeks.
Ducks Coach Randy Carlyle acknowledged that his team lost its discipline. That's nothing new for the Ducks, but they no longer have the depth to overcome those lapses.
"It was a hockey game that was up for grabs and we didn't play very well in it," Carlyle said. "The emotion that we displayed at the end of the game, the fire and heart . . . should have been displayed at the beginning of the game, not the end."
Each team had a player in the penalty box when Handzus dodged Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer to deflect a Jack Johnson shot past Hiller at 17:56 of the first period. "The team responded after that. We kept on battling," Quick said.
The Kings extended their lead to 2-0 at 6:02 of the second period. Ducks winger Mike Brown's clearing pass skipped past a teammate and was nabbed by Rob Scuderi. His shot from the left point was deflected at least once before Parse redirected it through Hiller's leg pads, a shot the goalie should have stopped.
Carlyle yanked Hiller and substituted Jean-Sebastien Giguere after the Kings scored their third goal, at 12:43. It came on their 13th shot, an unlucky number for Hiller, and resulted after Alexander Frolov made a nice spinning move to get outside of Niedermayer and threw the puck in front of the net. Brown nudged it in as he was being upended by Ducks defenseman Ryan Whitney.
"We had a great variety of goals. Those are the kinds of goals you do need to score to be able to get through rough times," Kings Coach Terry Murray said.
Fans serenaded Hiller as he exited, and their glee intensified when Simmonds took down Getzlaf in a fight. The noise got even louder when Simmonds was awarded a goal at 19:57 of the second period following a video review of a shot that glanced off the back of Giguere's skate and over the goal line.
The Ducks limped home six points out of the last playoff spot. "We just didn't work hard enough and compete hard enough in certain areas and it showed," center Todd Marchant said.
The Kings, 1-3 on a seven-game homestand that continues Saturday afternoon against Boston, took encouragement from the unity they showed when circumstances could have driven them apart.
"A game like that really brings a team together," Quick said. "We were sticking up for each other the whole 60 minutes and it's great to see that."