Ducks right wing Corey Perry, left, shoots the game-winning goal next to… (Jae C. Hong / Associated…)
Ducks winger Corey Perry was near the end of a shift and was exhausted. So when teammate Cam Fowler passed the puck up ice to him and he chugged into a clear lane on the right wing he had only one thought in mind.
"I just closed my eyes and shot," he said.
When he opened his eyes his teammates were rushing to congratulate him for a wicked snap shot that glanced off the glove of Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick and into the net 1 minute and 32 seconds into overtime Saturday, giving the Ducks a 2-1 victory in a physical and tense game at Staples Center.
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"We needed it, that's for sure," Perry said after scoring his 37th goal and matching his career high in points with 76 points.
Quick said he got a piece of the shot. "But not enough of it," he said.
To him, one point wasn't enough, either.
"They got two points out of it so we've got to find a way to win those games," he said.
The Ducks, who face Calgary at Honda Center on Sunday, moved up to ninth in the Western Conference playoff scramble. The Kings, who fell six points behind Pacific Division-leading San Jose and stayed fifth in the West, needed a solid performance Saturday for peace of mind.
Booed off the ice at the end of the second period Thursday in response to a listless effort in a 4-0 loss to St. Louis, they rebounded Saturday to play with energy and purpose. They had a 32-25 edge in shots but beat Ray Emery only once, when Dustin Brown took a slick backhand pass from Michal Handzus and tucked the puck inside the left post at 11:04 of the third period.
An apparent goal by Wayne Simmonds at 12:48 of the second period was waved off after referees Dave Jackson and Kyle Rehman ruled Alexei Ponikarovsky had interfered with Emery. In truth, Ducks defenseman Luca Sbisa pushed Ponikarovsky into the goalie -- but Ponikarovsky got the penalty and the Kings didn't get a goal they thought they should have had.
"From my view I thought it was a good goal," Kings Coach Terry Murray said. "I see their defenseman pushing [Ponikarovsky] from behind, so it depends were you are on the ice, I guess, to get a look at it.
"But that's the way it goes. We battled, we got the game tied up and got ourselves into a situation where we could have won it in overtime and it didn't work. But I like everything that was going on with our team."
Although the Kings extended their home winless streak to 0-2-2 and have scored only one goal in their last two games at Staples Center defenseman Willie Mitchell said it was the performance that mattered most.
"We played exactly how we want to play. If we play like that, more times than not we're going to get the results we want," he said.
"It's a team obviously we'd like to win against in regulation to put a bigger gap between us but that being said, I was really proud of the guys and how we responded after the last game."
The Ducks scored first, at 15:24 of the opening period, after Brandon McMillan won a faceoff outside his own blue line and dashed up ice to chase a pass from Francois Beauchemin. Kings defenseman Jack Johnson swatted at the bouncing puck -- the ice was awful in the second game of a Clippers-Kings doubleheader -- but missed it and McMillan walked in alone to beat Quick.
The Kings pulled even eight seconds after the end of their sixth fruitless power play, with Brown recording his 23rd goal this season. They otherwise were stymied by Emery, who has allowed only two goals on 63 shots in consecutive starts. "It's a battle all the time and it's fun to be in this position," he said.
The Ducks aren't in a playoff position and have 11 games left to get there, including two against the Kings on April 8-9. The next time the teams meet, the stakes could be a playoff spot.
"Both teams played well. We created a lot of opportunities but [Emery] played really well for them," Quick said. "It was just unfortunate the way it ended up."