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NHL Preview from The Sports Network
Saturday, January 25th (All times Eastern)
Anaheim Ducks (38-10-5) at Los Angeles Kings (29-17-6), 9:30 p.m.
(SportsNetwork.com) - The Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings are ready to put all the talk and hype surrounding their meeting at Dodger Stadium behind them.
The two Pacific Division rivals kick start the NHL's "Stadium Series" on Saturday night when they complete a home-and-home series outside at Dodger Stadium.
The clubs will meet for the second outdoor game of this NHL schedule. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings began the extended slate of games outside on Jan. 1 at Michigan Stadium, with the Leafs notching a 3-2 shootout victory in the Winter Classic.
The success of previous versions of that event, as well as the Heritage Classic in Canada, prompted the NHL to expand its schedule of games outside. Saturday's game is the first of four in the "Stadium Series" as the New York Rangers will play the New Jersey Devils on Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium before returning to the famous grounds for a game against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.
Later in the season, the Chicago Blackhawks and Pittsburgh Penguins will square off at Soldier Field in the Windy City on March 1 before the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators battle the following day in the Heritage Classic. That game will be played at BC Place, which features a retractable roof.
California's first ever outdoor NHL game is also the first played by the league in the U.S. west of the Mississippi River during the regular season.
The Kings, though, have played outdoors before as they faced off against the Rangers in the parking lot of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Sept. 27, 1991 in a preseason game played despite an 85-degree temperature. Wayne Gretzky had a goal in that game for Los Angeles.
While this contest will be of larger scale and of more importance, it has also required a ton of attention for both teams. Anaheim's Ryan Getzlaf noted after a loss to Winnipeg on Wednesday that the outdoor game has caused a lot of distractions.
Getzlaf's words came after the Ducks lost their first game at home in regulation this season, but they bounced back on Thursday to beat the Kings 2-1 and improve to 21-1-2 as the hosting team this season.
That ties the 2008-09 San Jose Sharks as the second-best home record through 24 games in NHL history, with both teams going 21-1-2 to trail only the Montreal Canadiens' 1943-44 home start of 21-0-3.
The King struck first on Thursday thanks to a first-period tally by Anze Kopitar, but Dustin Penner tied the contest on the power play with 6:09 to go in the second period before Patrick Maroon notched the winning goal with 2:07 to play in the frame.
Frederik Andersen stopped 30 shots for the Ducks, who have won 20 of their last 23 games and lead the NHL with 81 points. That is nine more than the second-place Sharks and 17 up on the Kings, who lead Vancouver by just three points for the third and final automatic playoff bid in the division.
"One game in January doesn't mean we're a better team than them," said Ducks forward Ben Lovejoy. "They played a great game tonight. We were one goal better than them, barely. We're two very evenly matched teams, and we need to bring it on Saturday in order to be successful."
The Ducks will play five in a row at home after this game and have lost their last five games as the visitor in this series.
The two clubs have split two meetings this season, with the Kings notching a 3-2 shootout win in Anaheim on Dec. 3, and Los Angeles has won eight of the previous 12 encounters overall.
Jonathan Quick made 19 saves for the Kings, who won the opener of a five-game road trip on Jan. 16 in St. Louis before dropping the final four games of the trek.
"We came up short," Kopitar said. "That's something we have to learn from. We can't just give up soft goals and easy goals."
Quick is 13-6-2 with a 2.41 goals against average in 23 games during his career versus the Ducks, who are likely to go back to Jonas Hiller in net tonight.
Hiller has allowed six goals total in back-to-back losses after winning 14 straight and is 8-8-3 with a 2.43 GAA lifetime versus the Kings.
01/25 10:24:46 ET