Young Ducks Take Charge

Times Staff Writer

There was free skating and free falling at Staples Center on Saturday afternoon. The Mighty Ducks did one. The Kings took care of the other.

The Ducks' 6-2 victory was full of efforts that could be a boon come contract time.

The team's wunderkinds, Joffrey Lupul, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Kunitz, each had a goal, with Perry getting two. Goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov presented Coach Randy Carlyle with a bit of a dilemma, with a second consecutive strong outing. Defenseman Scott Niedermayer had a goal and two assists, looking worth every bit of the four-year, $27-million deal he signed last summer.

The Kings, meanwhile, lost for the eighth time in the last 11 games to weaken their hold on a playoff spot.

"Yeah, we're in trouble. We're in big trouble," Sean Avery said. "If we don't turn this around, then it will be the third year in a row that we won't be in the playoffs. We're in big trouble here."

The Kings still have a glossy record with 63 points, good enough for fifth place in the Western Conference. But Coach Andy Murray's teams have had a habit of flat finishes. The Kings won three of 20 games after February in 2003-04 and six of 18 the previous season.

The Ducks were also having postseason thoughts after winning for the second time in their last 14 games at Staples Center, a victory that moved them within four points of eighth-place Edmonton.

"You see all those teams that are jammed up in the playoff hunt," Rob Niedermayer said. "L.A.'s in a playoff spot and we're fighting to get one."

The Ducks won the fight Saturday.

The visual for what happened to the Kings came when Scott Niedermayer up-ended Craig Conroy, sending him into a head-over-heels tumble to the ice. The audio was provided by the crowd, which booed the Kings off the ice at the end of the second period and again when they returned for the third period.

"They had a right to boo," team captain Mattias Norstrom said. "We embarrassed ourselves."

The Kings scored first, when Michael Cammalleri finished off a power-play flurry by banging in a rebound 2 minutes 7 seconds into the game. Two periods, and six Duck goals later, Cammalleri scored again.

In between those two King highlights, the Ducks skated better, worked harder and finished their chances.

"It's something right between the ears that we have to sort out," Murray said.

The Ducks tied a team record with four power-play goals. King fans, accustomed to knee-jerk disgust at the sight of Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne, were introduced to a new generation of Duck players to revile.

Lupul, a second-year player, split Mike Weaver and Tom Kostopoulos, then beat goaltender Mathieu Garon to tie the score, 1-1, 3:04 in the game. Getzlaf and Perry, both rookies, also had first-period goals to set the rout in motion.

Bryzgalov, also a rookie, started in place of Jean-Sebastien Giguere for the second consecutive game. He followed up his first shutout by stopping 30 of 32 shots, an effort that may keep Giguere in his seat.

"We have a lot of great young players on this team," said Selanne, whose two assists gave him an 11-game point streak. "They're going to be the future of this franchise."

The view on that was different in the Kings' dressing room.

"We can't get out-played by ... Kunitz and some of those players," Avery said. "We played like we were afraid of them.

"Every guy on this team has to look in the mirror. Each guy has to do what he does. I got to hit. I got to skate. I got to play a dirty game. Everyone has got to do their job."



King-Duck season series

The Mighty Ducks are 2-3 against the Kings this season, 24-30 overall with 11 ties. The two teams face each other again Monday night in Anaheim. They will play eight times altogether this season, meeting April 4 in Anaheim and April 8 in Staples Center.

*--* DATE SCORE HIGHLIGHT Oct. 25 KINGS 3, Ducks 1 LaBarbera (K) makes 29 saves Dec. 16 Kings 4, DUCKS 3 (SO) Demitra (K), Frolov (K) score shootout goals Jan. 9 DUCKS 6, Kings 2 Hedstrom (D) earns his first hat trick Jan. 23 KINGS 3, Ducks 2 (SO) Corvo (K) scores decisive goal in shootout Jan. 28 Ducks 6, KINGS 2 Perry (D) scores twice; Bryzgalov (D) shines in net


Home team in all caps

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