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Ducks’ 4-3 win isn’t that close

Times Staff Writer

Sports fans seeking an intense rivalry were better off Saturday at the Rose Bowl, where USC and UCLA went at it. Or they could have hung around Staples Center for the Lakers-Clippers game. Or they could have gone over to the auto show at the Convention Center, where Honda and Toyota were slugging it out.

But the Ducks and Kings? There wasn’t much edge-of-the-seat anticipation -- even in the seats that were occupied at Staples Center -- Saturday afternoon. The outcome was expected, then executed.

Even before the Ducks went through the motions for a 4-3 victory in front an announced crowd of 16,141, this series was titled heavily to the south. When it was over, the Ducks had increased their point total to an NHL-leading 46 with their seventh consecutive victory over the Kings.

Teemu Selanne had two goals and an assist and goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere had to make Kings fans envious with a number of quality saves when the game was in doubt.

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The Kings, 24 points behind the Ducks, were left with moral victories. They got two power-play goals in the last 1 minute 50 seconds to massage the score and goaltender Dan Cloutier lasted the entire game.

“I think we showed them too much respect early, and they deserve respect,” Kings Coach Marc Crawford said. “They are kings of the castle, top of the heap.”

And rulers of Southern California?

Philip Anschutz might hold title to Staples Center and the lavish entertainment district being constructed outside of the arena. But for now, the Ducks seem to own the Kings.

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The Ducks won the final four games against the Kings last season in their push toward the playoffs and have been to the Western Conference finals twice in the last three seasons. The Kings have been absent from the playoffs the last three seasons and have moved beyond the second round only once in 39 seasons.

“It’s a tough thing to be in,” Kings forward Dustin Brown said. “When I was in juniors, our cross-town rival always seemed to win every game. We have been so close in all the games, but we haven’t found a way to win one,” against the Ducks.

The Ducks, just off an emotional and frigid swing through Western Canada, had a 4-1 lead late in the third period. Back-to-back delay-of-game penalties gave the Kings power-play chances, which Brown and Rob Blake converted into goals.

Nonchalant was how the Ducks played it afterward.

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“It’s good that we won, but it wasn’t really anything special,” Selanne said. “What happened at the end, it’s no big deal. You can say a couple goals at the end, but a win is a win.... But you take two points and move on.”

Move south, anyway. The teams play in the Honda Center tonight. In preparation, an effort was made to inject some bitterness at the end of the game Saturday.

There was Cloutier shoving the Ducks’ Corey Perry to the ice in the third period. The Ducks’ Todd Marchant clobbered the Kings’ Lubomir Visnovsky, resulting in Sean Avery going after Marchant and a shouting match between the coaches with seconds left.

“I don’t know what happened at the end,” Selanne said. “I started to ask, ‘Why are you guys so mad? You guys have the guy that did something stupid at the end.’ ”

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Those moments came long after the Ducks had taken control of the game.

Selanne’s second goal, 1:12 into the third period, gave the Ducks had a 4-0 lead despite some lackadaisical play. That seemed less of a problem as Giguere was strong in net, including four bang-bang saves when the Kings had a two-man advantage in the second period.

The Kings would settle for competency in net. Cloutier had given up eight goals on the last 17 shots spread over two games. So Saturday’s effort was an improvement, as he made it into the third period for the first time in his last three starts, though it hardly mattered in the end.

Said Crawford: “We have to play with a lot of emotion in order to beat them tomorrow or any time.”

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chris.foster@latimes.com


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