Ducks can’t dethrone Kings in season series finale

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Ducks put forth a better effort than Friday's loss to the Flames, but still fell short in Saturday's result against the Kings.

LOS ANGELES — In their season series finale against the Los Angeles Kings, the Ducks were bested 3-1, failing to break the series tiebreaker with the Kings on Saturday night. Trevor Zegras had the lone tally for the Ducks while Lukáš Dostál made 25 saves in net.

The Ducks didn’t get the desired result, but it was a much more concerted all-around effort than Friday’s performance, a 6-3 loss to the Calgary Flames where they didn’t score until the third period when they were already down 4-0.

“Last night, I don’t know what it was, just kind of sleepy in the first two periods,” Troy Terry said. “Came out competing in the third and I thought we brought that into tonight.

“I thought both goalies on both ends made really good saves and a lot of these games can be decided by a special teams goal. I don’t know if it’s being more disciplined or what, but making sure we’re keeping that compete into the last game. That’s what we kind of want to finish this year with and leading into next year.”

Apr 13, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Anaheim Ducks right wing Troy Terry (19) handles the puck against LA Kings defenseman Vladislav Gavrikov (84) in the first period at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Anaheim matched the Kings through one period, but a tripping penalty from Olen Zellweger two minutes into the second period put the Kings on the power play and allowed Pierre-Luc Dubois to net his 16th goal of the season.

The $8.5 million man cleaned up a loose puck on the goal line to the left of Dostál, his first goal in 15 games. The Kings doubled their lead eight minutes later when Matt Roy’s shot from the point through traffic beat Dostál.

The Ducks drew within one midway through the third thanks to Trevor Zegras, who came off the bench and collected a pass from Zellweger upon entering the offensive zone before ripping a shot over the left shoulder of David Rittich. It was Zegras’s second goal in the last three games and his second against the Kings in one week.

“It was a smart change by Leo (Carlsson),” Zegras said. “I don’t think they saw me coming off the bench and (Zellweger) made a great play and I had a little bit of space and just threw it on net and it went in.”

Zegras now has seven points in 10 games since returning from a broken ankle which kept him out for almost three months. After three consecutive games without a point upon his return, Zegras has registered a point in all but one of his last seven games.

“It’s kind of unfortunate when you go through something like that during the season,” said Zegras of his ankle injury. “I honestly think the first thing that I had going on at the beginning of the season was tougher to mentally play through than the ankle. I’m feeling good and I feel like like the team is playing a lot better, which definitely helps, feel a little bit more connected out there. I like where we’re at, felt like we played well tonight.”

The Ducks continued to push for the tying goal in the closing minutes of the third, but it was the Kings who would strike with 2:18 remaining in the period. Kevin Fiala was first to a loose puck that fell behind the net and he was able to wrap it around into the net before Dostál got back into position.

Apr 13, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; LA Kings left wing Kevin Fiala (22) handles the puck against Anaheim Ducks defenseman Jackson LaCombe (60), center Isac Lundestrom (21) and right wing Jakob Silfverberg (33) in the second period at Crypto.com Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“That TV timeout (with five minutes remaining in the third), I think it gave (the Kings) a pause,” head coach Greg Cronin said. “We were all over them, you could see it coming. We got that first goal and you could see it energized us.”

“They’re a veteran team and they rebooted and they put it right back into our zone and took the steam out of us. Give Fiala credit, he was able to counter-hit (Radko) Gudas and pick up the loose puck and stuff it.”

The Ducks have one final game remaining on the docket, an away matchup against the Vegas Golden Knights five days from now on Apr. 18. The Ducks began the 2023-24 season on the road against the Golden Knights as well.

“It’s one game left and it can be easy to maybe check out,” Terry said. “But just making sure we feel good about how we ended and getting ready for that game and making sure we’re going out there and competing.”