NHL Preview from The Sports Network|
Saturday, April 12th
(All times Eastern)
Anaheim Ducks (52-20-8) at Los Angeles Kings (46-28-7), 10:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Anaheim Ducks will try to claim the Western
Conference's top seed on Saturday night as they take on the rival Los Angeles
The Ducks, 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, clinched their second straight
division title and third in club history (2007) with Wednesday's 5-2 victory
over the second-place San Jose Sharks. That win upped Anaheim's season point
total to a franchise-best 112, three back of the Boston Bruins for the most in
Boston, though, can clinch the Presidents' Trophy with a victory over the
Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon.
Anaheim is trying to hold off both the St. Louis and Colorado for the top seed
in the conference and caught a break when both the Blues and Avalanche lost on
That kept the Ducks one point ahead of the Blues and Avs with a game in hand.
Anaheim holds the tiebreaker over both clubs thanks to more non-shootout
victories, so a single point tonight would lock up the top seed in the West
for the Ducks.
In doing so, Anaheim would secure a first-round matchup with the Dallas Stars.
The Ducks used Patrick Maroon's first career two-goal game and 36 saves by
John Gibson to defeat the Sharks on Wednesday. Corey Perry and Matt Beleskey
also scored to back Gibson in his second NHL contest. The first came in
Monday's 3-0 shutout victory over Vancouver.
"We can be happy for a little bit, and then get back to getting ready for L.A.
on Saturday," Perry said of clinching the division. "We can enjoy this one and
enjoy the things we've accomplished so far, but there's a lot more to be
Head coach Bruce Boudreau agreed.
"It's cool because it's a really tough division," noted Boudreau. "When you
start out, you have certain goals. One is to win the division, then the
conference, then the Presidents' [Trophy], and then you win every round of the
playoffs to win the Cup. Those are your seven or eight goals. We've got one
down, but we have others we want to have. We know it's a tough grind. Every
team you play is tough now."
Anaheim got a boost with the return of defenseman Cam Fowler from a 12-game
absence caused by a sprained MCL in his left knee and matched a club record
for the most home wins in a season with 28.
The Ducks can break that mark on Sunday in their regular-season finale versus
the visiting Avalanche.
The Kings are looking to round into form ahead of the playoffs as they are
locked into third place in the Pacific Division and a first-round matchup with
Los Angeles snapped a three-game slide on Thursday with a 3-0 triumph over the
Edmonton Oilers, with Marian Gaborik scoring twice while also assisting on
Anze Kopitar's 200th career goal.
Gaborik, a trade deadline acquisition, has three goals and 11 points in his
last nine games and helped the Kings match a franchise single-season record
with their 46th win. Saturday is their final game of the regular season.
"Obviously, we controlled the game for pretty much all 60 minutes," Gaborik
remarked. "We played our game up and down and we didn't give them much."
Backup goaltender Martin Jones made 17 saves in his fourth shutout.
The Kings have lost each of their past three meetings with the Ducks,
including when they served as the host in an outdoor contest at Dodger Stadium
on Jan. 25.
The Ducks then snapped a five-game slide at Los Angeles' Staples Center with a
2-1 triumph on March 15.
04/12 10:28:30 ET