Ducks defeat Kings, 4-3, in overtime to clinch Pacific Division title
A sense of relief, mixed with exhaustion, came from the Ducks’ dressing room after it finally ended.
The Ducks have talked strictly about getting to the playoffs, so their fifth straight Pacific Division title earned with a 4-3 win against the Kings on a drama-filled Sunday finale was gravy.
They fought off a die-hard Kings team in announcer Bob Miller’s final game, clinched the division just by going to overtime and got Shea Theodore’s overtime goal for good measure. The Ducks will play the Calgary Flames on Thursday in the first round, but not without some reflection.
“We went through a lot of ups and downs this year,” forward Ryan Getzlaf said. “We grew as a group as we went along, and that was a good sign. I thought the second half of the year, we did a lot better job with our composure, with our game, and we built toward this.”
The Ducks will enter the postseason on a 14-game point streak (11-0-3). They are the first team to do so since the Pittsburgh Penguins took an 18-game streak into the 1993 playoffs.
“Everyone’s buying in right now,” goalie Jonathan Bernier said.
Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said the slate is wiped clean, though, and he noted that the real hockey begins soon. His players weren’t keen on talking about hanging another division banner.
“We’ve won a few here and we don’t get too excited anymore, really,” wing Andrew Cogliano said. “We’ve come back a long way. We’ve deserved where we are. We wanted to win to finish off the season on the right note. That’s what it came down to. It’s fitting that we won in overtime.”
The Ducks couldn’t get through Game 82 unscathed. Patrick Eaves exited in the second period after he fell into a tangled heap with Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb.
“He’s got an upper-body injury, but I saw him after the game walking around,” Carlyle said. “He’s fine.”
Theodore beat Kings goalie Jonathan Quick high 53 seconds into overtime. It ended a strange, yet special game in which Ducks fans gave Miller a standing ovation and Ducks players tapped their sticks during a video tribute at Honda Center. Miller’s broadcast booth was decorated with photos, and a banner in Kings colors with his name was hung outside of it.
Miller called seven goals and possibly Jarome Iginla’s last game. Iginla became the 34th player in NHL history to record 1,300 points, with an assist on Dustin Brown’s goal.
Eaves scored 27 seconds in, his 32nd goal, and the Ducks also got scores from Antoine Vermette and Nate Thompson — his first this season. Drew Doughty and Kyle Clifford also scored for the Kings, who played a regular lineup, including Quick on consecutive days to end the season.
While the Kings do soul-searching, the Ducks turn to Calgary. They have won three straight against the Flames since an 8-3 Calgary win in December that Carlyle said “embarrassed” them. There is also last week’s brouhaha in which Cam Fowler was taken out by a knee-on-knee hit against the Flames.
But Carlyle wants to refocus. “We’re going to have to earn everything that we get, and I would expect Calgary’s going to have a few surprises,” he said. “They won’t be the same hockey club we played the last two times here.”
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