The odds of the Ducks and Kings meeting again in the playoffs this season appears high, their latest high-energy showdown on Friday serving as a possible appetizer for more of the action that last season took Southland hockey fans on a seven-game ride.
For the Ducks, the regular-season meetings in advance of the postseason collision are an opportunity to stamp some impressions upon their rivals.
By rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the third period to win 4-2 Friday, Anaheim left a mark.
Others were delivered in the form of bruises, as the first-place Ducks outhit the defending Stanley Cup champions, 52-25, to ultimately impose their will on the visitors at Honda Center and beat Los Angeles for the third time in four games.
Don’t fret about them
So, Ryan Kesler hadn’t scored a point in 10 games, and Corey Perry had but one goal through the past nine games and two periods before Friday.
Staring into the teeth of the Kings’ unbending defense, Kesler produced a goal and assist in the third period and Perry scored twice to improve his season total to 26.
Perry said the Kesler goal was “the spark.
“Those are big moments in a game that can turn the tide for us.”
The third line of Emerson Etem, Jiri Sekac and center Rickard Rakell was dynamic
Etem, possibly being dangled as trade bait should the Ducks follow through on their interest in acquiring another defenseman before the Monday trade deadline, scored the tying goal by charging to the crease and finding Rakell’s brilliant pass.
Sekac, acquired from the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, had an assist.
“Probably our best line … they hemmed ‘em in, [Kings defenseman Andrej] Sekera was on the ice for like four minutes, he was dying out there,” Kesler said.
If you’re Ducks General Manager Bob Murray, hold that trade trigger. See how Etem, after four hits, a takeaway and a plus-one showing, does in Dallas on Sunday.
Speaking of stepping up ...
Defenseman Ben Lovejoy was a healthy scratch in Wednesday’s 3-0 loss, and returned with five hits and five blocked shots Friday.
Lovejoy’s defensive partner, Cam Fowler, who urged a complete effort following the puzzling loss to Ottawa on Wednesday, was plus-three in 21:39 of ice time.
Also, as much as home-ice advantage was dismissed following the Ducks’ Game 7 loss in Anaheim last season, the building’s energy was such on Friday that victory after Etem’s electric tying goal was essentially a formality.
Who doesn’t want to see more of this?
Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf agreed the Ducks and Kings are on a playoff collision course, as they thrilled a standing-room-only crowd of 17,413.
“It was a good hockey game, as we’ve come to expect when we meet those guys,” Getzlaf said. “We were able to keep our composure and play the game all the way through.”
The teams have one more regular-season meeting, March 18, again in Anaheim.