Ducks prevent Kings from clinching playoff spot

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
The Ducks took down the Kings on Wednesday night behind a solid team effort.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Alex Killorn and Trevor Zegras scored third-period goals, providing the difference for the Ducks in a 3-1 victory over the Kings at Honda Center on Tuesday night.

The loss kept the Kings from clinching a playoffs spot. They’ll get another shot against Vancouver when they meet Thursday in Los Angeles.

Anaheim’s also got Tuesday’s first-period goal from Frank Vatrano. Zegras’ goal was his first in eight games since returning from a broken ankle.

Killorn scored initially on the power play, but it was waved off because of offside review. The veteran forward scored 16 seconds later.

“It’s hard to score goals in this league,” Killorn said. “So, whenever they get taken away, it’s pretty tough, so I was happy I could get it back quickly.”

It was fast and furious hockey for most of the game, especially in the second period where stoppages felt few. A goal from Akil Thomas — the second of his NHL career — gave the Kings a 1-0 lead six minutes into the game, but Vatrano’s goal tied it 12 minutes later.

Ryan Strome collected a loose puck at the top of the blue line and zipped it to the right point for Radko Gudas, whose shot was directed on net by Vatrano. The rebound popped back right to him and the UMass alum slammed it home for his 33rd goal of the season.

Killorn’s goal came barely two minutes into the third, with the Ducks beginning the period on the power play. After his redirect of a Cam Fowler point shot on the power play was waved off, Killorn came down on the rush and ripped one past Cam Talbot from the high slot to give Anaheim a lead they would never relinquish.

“He’s got more jump,” said Ducks coach Greg Cronin, referencing Killorn’s play since returning from arthroscopic knee surgery in January. “He’s more physical, I think he’s protecting pucks better.

“There’s probably a little bit of apprehension on his back in terms of generating pressure on his back when he’s got a rusty knee, but he’s gotten through that.”

Four minutes later, Zegras would put the cherry on top. After the puck was chipped out and into the neutral zone, he caught Jordan Spence by surprise and stripped it from him. Cruising down the left wing on a 2-on-1 with Strome, Zegras opted for the shot and ripped a wrister over the left shoulder of Talbot.

A late tripping penalty by goaltender Lukáš Dostál on Viktor Arvidsson allowed the Kings to bring the pressure in the final minutes of the game, but Anaheim’s penalty kill held strong and Dostál even made a bid for the empty net at one point during the kill.

“I thought our team played great against a really good team,” Killorn said. “We played well (on Sunday) against St. Louis.

“We gave up a couple of (power play goals in that game), we didn’t take a lot of penalties tonight and I think we built a lot of momentum off that just playing 5-on-5. I don’t know if there’s anything special, but I think our team’s finding the way we want to end the season with good momentum going.”