Mike Richards celebrates with teammate Drew Doughty after scoring the… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
The man knows his entertainment, his sport and his theater.
"I hope we get to play him a few more times … this year," Kings Coach Darryl Sutter said.
Sutter was speaking about the Kings and Anaheim, and specifically, the Ducks' incomparable Teemu Selanne. The pause was a creative way of throwing puck proceedings forward to the playoffs, going beyond the finale of this regular-season series between the Kings and Ducks.
This, in fact, was Saturday morning, many hours before the Kings' hard-fought and tense 2-1 victory over the Ducks, which featured one waved-off goal and enough emotion to fill the cavernous Staples Center, a rarity in the regular season.
The game-winner came from Kings forward Mike Richards, a blast from the left circle, on the power play, with just under a minute left in the second period. Ducks defenseman Francois Beauchemin had gone off for delay of game, at 18 minutes 39 seconds, shooting the puck over the glass.
For Richards, it was his 11th goal of the season and came on a picture-perfect shot, finding just enough room to elude Ducks goalie Viktor Fasth. He has points in six straight games.
"I think he has gotten stronger for sure," Sutter said. "And as is typical with Mike, that is the bigger it gets, the better he plays. I think it’s on record that he had a tough start and he’s certainly played well lately. We need those centermen to complement each other, that was one of the real strengths of our team last year."
Assisting on the game-winning goal was defenseman Drew Doughty who was an offensive force, scoring the Kings' first goal, giving them a 1-0 lead at 10:10 of the opening period. It looked as though his one-timer went off a couple of Ducks. But Trevor Lewis set the stage for Doughty’s goal with his speed and tenacity down the wing.
"He just goes about his business and you know what, good on him, he’s a good player," Sutter said. "He’s a guy who came here and nobody was too sure on him and I said, ‘Woah, this kid’s a good player.’ It’s just a confidence thing and it shows every night."
Doughty, who did not score until March 19, now has five goals. "It was tough at the start, especially when I wasn't putting up points," Doughty said earlier. "I'm used to putting up points and I wasn't doing it at all.
"I was still creating chances, but just wasn't getting the bounces. At the same time, I was playing a more defensive role. Some games I would play with every single guy, every single player on the defensive end except for Slava [Voynov] because he's a right-handed defenseman."
Sutter got his attention in another way.
"Darryl took me off the [first] power-play unit. It taught me a bit of a lesson," Doughty said. "It's a privilege to be on it. I got another opportunity and made the most of it ... I was definitely frustrated. I didn’t have a goal and I wasn’t scoring, I wasn’t putting up points on the power play. If you’re not clicking with the other guys at that time, it’s the right thing to do."
The lone Anaheim goal, a short-handed effort, came on a rare misjudgment by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick as he came out of the net and was beaten to the loose puck by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who put it into an empty net.
It was Getzlaf's 14th goal of the season and the fourth short-handed goal of his career. Speaking of rare, it was the first short-handed goal the Kings allowed this season.
That was Quick's only costly mistake. This was his third straight start and second start, and win, since his son, Carter, was born Wednesday. Quick prevailed in a shootout against Colorado on Thursday.
He didn't have a huge amount of work but produced big saves, stopping speedy Ducks center Andrew Cogliano on a breakaway in the second period and making a superb sliding glove save on Matt Beleskey early in the third.
Earlier, video review at 4:54 of the second period determined that the Ducks' Bobby Ryan used a kicking motion to put the puck into the net with his leg. That goal, which was waved off, would have given the Ducks a 2-1 lead.
They have now dropped two consecutive games for just the third time this season and they've scored only four goals in their last three games, a troubling drop for a team that once ranked among NHL leaders in goals per game.
"We played as hard as we could, had some good chances, but we're not scoring goals," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said. "What was our strength is now a weakness. We had great chances. Maybe we are pressing or not working hard enough to finish. To win hockey games, you've got to score.
"We've got to get back to winning. It's not like everything is hunky-dory. We have to be playing our best hockey by the time the playoffs start. All of a sudden, our sense of urgency has to pick up."
Said Fasth, on the deciding goal: “For a goalie, it's tough to to get into the game when they're not shooting. It hit my stick knob and went upstairs. I didn't see much when he shot it.”
Times staff writer Lance Pugmire contributed to this report.