NHL

Kings-Ducks Preview

Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll, left, and Anaheim Ducks right wing Devante Smith-Pelly collide during the first period in Game 4 of an NHL hockey second-round Stanley Cup playoff series, Saturday, May 10, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Ter Photo:

Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll, left, and Anaheim Ducks right wing Devante Smith-Pelly collide during the first period in Game 4 of an NHL hockey second-round Stanley Cup playoff series, Saturday, May 10, 2014, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Mark J. Ter

There's a distinct possibility the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings could meet again in the playoffs.

The Pacific Division-leading Ducks can help themselves avoid such a matchup by handing their arch-rivals a costly defeat Wednesday night.

This contest is the final edition of the Freeway Faceoff, with Anaheim seeking to end Los Angeles' three-game road win streak.

The Ducks (44-20-7) are enjoying a comfortable lead atop the division while the Kings (34-22-13) are hoping to avoid becoming the eighth defending Stanley Cup champion to miss the playoffs the following season.

''Every year is difficult. It's not easy,'' Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick said. ''It's a tough league and there's a lot of parity in both conferences. So I don't think this year is any more difficult than previous years. And it certainly isn't any easier.''

Anaheim blew a 3-2 series lead to Los Angeles in last year's Western Conference semifinals, and the 2014-15 season series has been closely contested.

The first three meetings all went to overtime with the Ducks winning two shootouts and the Kings winning once in the extra session. Anaheim then rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period to win 4-2 at home Feb. 27, with Corey Perry's empty-net tally preventing another one-goal finish.

The Ducks enjoyed a similar result Sunday, coming back from two down entering the third for a 4-2 home victory over Nashville. They held a 15-4 edge in shots in the third.

"If you look at our season, anytime we get a goal we usually get another one," center Ryan Getzlaf said. "It's always about breaking through, getting that first goal, not getting frustrated."

Ryan Kesler has team bests of four goals and six points in the season series while Anze Kopitar leads the Kings with three goals and is tied with Jake Muzzin for the club lead with five points in the four matchups.

Los Angeles has totaled 14 goals during its road win streak and may be happy to make the short trip down Interstate-5 after scoring twice in splitting its last two games at home. Quick made 25 saves for his sixth shutout in Monday's 1-0 win over Arizona.

The Kings held the Coyotes to 0 for 2 on the power play, and have killed off 40 of opponents' last 42 such chances.

"It's something that we always try to get better at, something you need playing well if you're going to have success this time of year and in the postseason," Quick said.

Quick is 13-3-1 with a 1.67 goals-against average in his last 17 starts. He has conceded nine goals in three matchups with the Ducks.

Anaheim is at 11.1 percent on the power play at home since the All-Star break for one of the NHL's worst marks. The Ducks are 3 for 33 overall in their last 16 games.

John Gibson made 20 saves in his first appearance in this rivalry in the last matchup for Anaheim. Gibson has started the Ducks' last three games, and has yielded two goals or fewer in six of his previous seven starts.

Anaheim's Sami Vatanen practiced Tuesday and may return from a 14-game absence due to a lower-body injury. He leads Ducks defensemen with 34 points - four in the season series.

Promoted Stories
Comments

More NHL