Ducks beat Kings 3-1 to seize No. 4 seed in West
LOS ANGELES – Saku Koivu had a goal and an assist, Dan Ellis made 43 saves and the Anaheim Ducks rocketed to the fourth seed in the Western Conference playoffs with a season-ending 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night.
Brandon McMillan and Francois Beauchemin also scored for the Ducks, who didn't even clinch a playoff spot until Friday's 2-1 home win over the Kings. After sweeping the weekend to cap their 15-5-0 finish, the Ducks will host a postseason series.
Nashville and Phoenix both lost Saturday before Anaheim won, leaving all three clubs with 99 points. The Ducks own the tiebreakers against both clubs and even Chicago — if the Blackhawks beat Detroit on Sunday.
Ryan Smyth scored and Jonathan Quick stopped 17 shots for the playoff-bound Kings, who outshot Anaheim 44-20.
The Kings finished with 98 points after losing four of their final six, getting passed by their crosstown rivals in their final game. With its top two scorers sidelined by injuries, Los Angeles could slide all the way to eighth if the Blackhawks get a point Sunday.
Corey Perry had an assist to finish with 50 goals and 48 assists in his breakthrough season for the Ducks. The All-Star right wing will win his first Richard Trophy as the NHL's top goal-scorer, and his MVP credentials will be boosted by the Ducks' stellar finish.
Anaheim has been clawing to get back in the playoff picture for roughly three months, never getting a firm foothold in the competitive West race until three days ago.
Los Angeles also could have claimed home ice in the first round with a win, but fell behind 3-0 in the second period and couldn't catch up to its crosstown rivals.
The Kings will make their second straight playoff appearance after an eight-year absence, but their task against top-seeded Vancouver or No. 2 San Jose will be difficult without leading scorers Anze Kopitar and Justin Williams.
Anaheim took a 46-45-11 lead in the Freeway Faceoff. Both Southern California clubs are headed to the playoffs together for the first time since the then-Mighty Ducks joined the NHL in 1993.
The rivalry series got chippy in the final minutes. Teemu Selanne engaged in a rare fight with Los Angeles' Brad Richardson after a prolonged scrum near the boards, and a spectacular fight broke out between Anaheim's Sheldon Brookbank and Los Angeles' Kyle Clifford.
Ellis was outstanding in his second straight start for the Ducks in place of Ray Emery, who incurred a lower-body injury in Wednesday's win over San Jose. While Emery carried Anaheim down the playoff stretch in the extended absence of All-Star Jonas Hiller (vertigo), Ellis has been nearly as good since arriving in a trade with Tampa Bay, going 8-3-1 with the Ducks.
McMillan scored late in the first period for Anaheim with tremendous hustle and a little artistry. The rookie won a faceoff and drove to the net through Los Angeles' defense before batting his own rebound out of the air with the shaft of his stick for his 11th goal.
Koivu added his 15th goal during a power play moments later, slapping home a blind backhand pass from Perry. Ellis made his biggest save of the night against Los Angeles captain Dustin Brown midway through the period, stopping a clean breakaway chance. Beauchemin scored a few seconds later, firing a long shot under Quick's leg.
Los Angeles finally ended an 0-for-23 power-play skid when Smyth's deflection off the crossbar trickled behind Ellis late in the period.
NOTES: Before the game, Anaheim recalled C Nick Bonino and G J.P. Levasseur from its AHL affiliate in Syracuse. Levasseur was brought up in case Hiller couldn't suit up, but the Swiss goalie was in uniform backing up Ellis. Although his vertigo symptoms have eased lately, Hiller has played just 83 minutes in three games since appearing in the All-Star game as the only West goalie. ... Kopitar was voted the Kings' most valuable player. Los Angeles' leading scorer is out until the fall after tearing ligaments in his right ankle. ... The Kings sold out 35 of their 41 home games at Staples Center, including the final 18.