Ducks teammates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry celebrate a goal by Getzlaf… (Jeff Gross / Getty Images )
Ryan Getzlaf is having an MVP-caliber season for the Ducks, his 13 goals and 30 assists the most tangible strengths of a captain whose leadership, toughness and wisdom have been treasured in this run to a 25-8-5 record.
Getzlaf's value has increased from the moment he left Wednesday night's 5-2 victory over Dallas following his third-period goal, suffering right leg pain that also caused him to miss Friday's 3-1 loss to the Stars.
Getzlaf didn't practice at Saturday's optional workout at Honda Center, Coach Bruce Boudreau repeating that his star is day to day with the defending Stanley Cup-champion Kings coming to Honda Center for a 6 p.m. game Sunday.
"He's probably our best player, our captain," Ducks center Andrew Cogliano said after Friday's game. "His presence — you can't find another guy, a big centerman who controls the game, and his power play is very noticeable. His play makes our whole team better.
"But a lot of teams have injuries, top guys go down, and you have to find a way to get it done. Tonight, we didn't. If you want to use it as an excuse, you can. We can't."
Getzlaf's first-line co-star Corey Perry said, "The character of the room" is needed to compensate for the loss.
Ducks rookie Emerson Etem took it upon himself to rally the team during a sluggish first period in which they fell behind Dallas, 3-1, by initiating a fight with Stars left wing Antoine Roussel.
More than that was needed.
"He's one of the best players in the world, a big piece of our puzzle, and any time he's not in the lineup, it's definitely going to hurt," Etem said. "Our goal was to have everyone step up. We've got to do better, even more to fill in for his absence."
Boudreau said Getzlaf's leadership, power play and first-line stability are "huge when it's missing," selling the idea that his star is every bit the most-valuable-player candidate that Pittsburgh's sidelined Sidney Crosby (oral surgery) is.
"No one wants to play more than Ryan, but at this stage, we want to be 100%," Boudreau said. "We don't want anything to linger on. So as big a game as we think this one is on Sunday, we want to make sure Ryan's ready to play the rest of the season."
A day after missing Friday's game because of illness, Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller returned to practice Saturday and is eligible to play Sunday.
Hiller started Feb. 2 when the Ducks beat the Kings, 7-4, at Honda Center.
Matthew Lombardi, the veteran center the Ducks acquired this week at the trading deadline from Phoenix, played 12:38 Friday and was minus 1, failing to convert a point-blank chance at Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen.
"There's always a bit of an adjustment," Lombardi said after the game. "It'll get better.
"I got a chance there and didn't capitalize on it. You've got to bury those ones. We didn't get off to the start we wanted, made a push in the third. That's the story. We need to be better."
When: 6. Where: Honda Center.
On the air: TV: Prime Ticket.
Record vs. Kings: 1-1.
Etc.: Hiller is 7-1 in his last eight starts at Honda Center. Cogliano has 12 points (seven goals) since March 1.