The Los Angeles Kings appear to have found the right combination against the Anaheim Ducks, winning the past three meetings by a combined score of 13-3.
They’ll see if they can unlock their offense again on Wednesday night when they host the Ducks in the second of four games in six days against their struggling rival to the south.
Los Angeles (18-22-6, 42 points) had seven defensemen in their lineup against the Ducks on Monday night, one more than usual, and two scored in the 4-1 victory that kept its slim playoff hopes alive.
Sean Walker scored his second goal of the season and Mikey Anderson tallied his first to help the Kings to an early 2-0 lead.
It marked the first time this season that more than one defenseman scored in the same game for the Kings.
“On (Monday) night, we were happy that we went that route,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said of the decision to play seven defensemen. “It got some of our forwards into the game more than maybe it would have if we just rolled four lines.”
Both goals from the defenseman were generated from just inside the blue line.
Walker scored on a point shot that found its way through traffic and into the net, and Anderson’s goal came off a point shot that caromed off the end boards and onto his stick in the slot.
“The really good teams in the league right now are getting a lot of production from the blue line,” McLellan said. “Sometimes, I don’t think our ‘D’ are aggressive enough with their shots. They’re not always prepared to shoot.”
The Kings are one point behind the sixth-place Sharks and also pulled within six points of fourth place, which has recently alternated between the St. Louis Blues and Arizona Coyotes. Los Angeles has 10 games remaining.
Los Angeles is catching the Ducks at the right time, as Anaheim has lost five in a row and combined for just five goals in those games.
“That’s a number of games in a row where we’ve scored only one goal,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “We’ve got to find ways to put that puck in the net.”
The Ducks (14-28-7, 35 points) could be on the verge of bringing center Trevor Zegras back into the lineup.
Anaheim’s first-round pick in 2019 and the ninth player selected overall, Zegras played 17 games with the Ducks earlier this season before he was sent back to San Diego of the American Hockey League to work on his transition from wing to center.
One of the Ducks’ top three centers, Adam Henrique, may not be available again on Wednesday after he was placed in the league’s COVID-19 protocol list before the game on Monday. Eakins said following the loss on Monday that Henrique had come in close contact with somebody who had tested positive.
Quinton Byfield, whom the Kings chose No. 2 overall in the 2020 draft, could also make his NHL debut after he was recalled from Ontario on Monday and practiced on a line with regulars Trevor Moore and Adrian Kempe on Tuesday.
Jamie Drysdale, the sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft, has already played 18 games for the Ducks, scoring the only goal in the loss to the Kings on Monday.
–Field Level Media