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 Kings.
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 the NHL.
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 Friday night.
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 done."
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 the Sharks.
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