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Kings beat Ducks in final Freeway Faceoff of the season

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  • Adrian Kempe #9 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the puck past William Lagesson #37 of the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head coach Greg Cronin of the Anaheim Ducks looks on...

    Head coach Greg Cronin of the Anaheim Ducks looks on against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Head coach Jim Hiller of the Los Angeles Kings talks...

    Head coach Jim Hiller of the Los Angeles Kings talks to his team during a time out against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Adrian Kempe #9 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the...

    Adrian Kempe #9 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the puck against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Assistant coach Newell Brown of the Anaheim Ducks talks to...

    Assistant coach Newell Brown of the Anaheim Ducks talks to his team during a time out against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Pierre-Luc Dubois #80 of the Los Angeles Kings control the...

    Pierre-Luc Dubois #80 of the Los Angeles Kings control the puck against he Anaheim Ducks during the third period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Olen Zellweger #51 of the Anaheim Ducks controls the puck...

    Olen Zellweger #51 of the Anaheim Ducks controls the puck against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Kevin Fiala #22 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates with...

    Kevin Fiala #22 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates with teammates after scoring as Sam Colangelo #64 of the Anaheim Ducks skates past during the third period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Viktor Arvidsson #33 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the...

    Viktor Arvidsson #33 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the puck against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Phillip Danault #24 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the...

    Phillip Danault #24 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the puck against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Adrian Kempe #9 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the...

    Adrian Kempe #9 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the puck against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the...

    Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the puck against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings blocks...

    Goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings blocks a shot against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Jackson LaCombe #60 of the Anaheim Ducks takes a high...

    Jackson LaCombe #60 of the Anaheim Ducks takes a high stick to the face against Akil Thomas #41 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Jackson LaCombe #60 of the Anaheim Ducks takes a high...

    Jackson LaCombe #60 of the Anaheim Ducks takes a high stick to the face against Akil Thomas #41 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Alex Laferriere #78 of the Los Angeles Kings fights for...

    Alex Laferriere #78 of the Los Angeles Kings fights for the puck against goalie Lukas Dostal #1 of the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the...

    Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the puck against he Anaheim Ducks lduring the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Isac Lundestrom #21 of the Anaheim Ducks controls the puck...

    Isac Lundestrom #21 of the Anaheim Ducks controls the puck against the Los Angeles Kings during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Ryan Strome #16 of the Anaheim Ducks fights for the...

    Ryan Strome #16 of the Anaheim Ducks fights for the puck against Blake Lizotte #46 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Kings enter the ice prior to a NHL...

    Los Angeles Kings enter the ice prior to a NHL hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • George Lopez is announced on Mexican Heritage Night prior to...

    George Lopez is announced on Mexican Heritage Night prior to a NHL hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings blocks...

    Goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings blocks a shot against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Jackson LaCombe #60 of the Anaheim Ducks takes a high...

    Jackson LaCombe #60 of the Anaheim Ducks takes a high stick to the face against Akil Thomas #41 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings blocks...

    Goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings blocks a shot against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Pierre-Luc Dubois #80 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates with...

    Pierre-Luc Dubois #80 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates with teammates after coring against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Pierre-Luc Dubois #80 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates with...

    Pierre-Luc Dubois #80 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates with teammates after coring against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings blocks...

    Goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings blocks a shot by Trevor Zegras (not pictured) of the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Los Angeles Kings enter the ice prior to a NHL...

    Los Angeles Kings enter the ice prior to a NHL hockey game between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings blocks...

    Goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings blocks a shot against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings blocks...

    Goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings blocks a shot by Trevor Zegras #11 of the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Alex Turcotte #38 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the...

    Alex Turcotte #38 of the Los Angeles Kings controls the puck between Radko Gudas #7 of the Anaheim Ducks and teammate Ross Johnston #44 of the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Alex Laferriere #78 of the Los Angeles Kings fights for...

    Alex Laferriere #78 of the Los Angeles Kings fights for the puck against goalie Lukas Dostal #1 of the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Matt Roy #3 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates with...

    Matt Roy #3 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks during the second period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Brett Leason #20 of the Anaheim Ducks reaches for the...

    Brett Leason #20 of the Anaheim Ducks reaches for the puck against Kevin Fiala #22 of the Los Angeles Kings during the second period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Trevor Lewis #61 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates after...

    Trevor Lewis #61 of the Los Angeles Kings celebrates after teammate Matt Roy (not pictured) of the Los Angeles Kings scores past goalie Lukas Dostal #1 of the Anaheim Ducks as Jackson LaCombe #60 of the Anaheim Ducks reacts during the second period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Alex Killorn #17 of the Anaheim Ducks takes a shot...

    Alex Killorn #17 of the Anaheim Ducks takes a shot on goal against goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings during the second period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Alex Killorn #17 of the Anaheim Ducks takes a shot...

    Alex Killorn #17 of the Anaheim Ducks takes a shot on goal against goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings during the second period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Leo Carlsson #91 of the Anaheim Ducks controls the puck...

    Leo Carlsson #91 of the Anaheim Ducks controls the puck as Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings dives during the third period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Trevor Zegras #11 of the Anaheim Ducks reacts after scoring...

    Trevor Zegras #11 of the Anaheim Ducks reacts after scoring against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Goalie Lukas Dostal #1 of the Anaheim Ducks blocks a...

    Goalie Lukas Dostal #1 of the Anaheim Ducks blocks a shot by the Los Angeles Kings during the third period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings can’t...

    Goalie David Rittich #31 of the Los Angeles Kings can’t stop a goal by Trevor Zegras (not pictured) of the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

  • Ben Meyers #39 of the Anaheim Ducks fights for the...

    Ben Meyers #39 of the Anaheim Ducks fights for the puck against Quinton Byfield #55 of the Los Angeles Kings during the first period of a NHL hockey game at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 13, 2024. (Photo by Keith Birmingham, Pasadena Star-News/ SCNG)

LOS ANGELES –– The Kings edged the Ducks in this season’s fourth and final Freeway Faceoff, 3-1, at Crypto.com Arena Saturday, in a match where the hosts neither trailed nor felt entirely comfortable all night.

The Kings, once troubled at home, have now won eight straight games within their friendly confines, and it appeared they’d soon be welcoming a familiar foe for two or three playoff games.

The Vancouver Canucks beat the second-place Edmonton Oilers to bring their magic number to a solitary point to clinch the Pacific Division, making the Kings’ third straight first-round series beginning in Edmonton an even more distinct possibility.

The Ducks had beaten the Kings on Tuesday but Saturday and against Calgary Friday, they rallied to cut the disparity to a single goal, only to fall short.

“Even when they pushed a bit, everybody stayed calm and stayed relaxed, and didn’t give them much. They get one and you could start to panic a bit, but we stayed in it,” Kings center Pierre-Luc Dubois said.

For Ducks coach Greg Cronin, these near misses have represented a bit more than moral victories.

“We’re really close. It stinks that we’re not winning the games, but I think when you watch us play now compared to, say, the middle of December, there’s a totally different identity to the group,” Cronin said.

Kevin Fiala’s heady wraparound putback of a rebound with 2:18 to play gave him his 29th goal of 2023-24 and the Kings their 43rd win of the season to maintain a three-point edge over the fourth-place Vegas Golden Knights, who were idle Saturday.

Kings interim coach Jim Hiller called the shift by the top line prior to that goal “the most important of the game,” and Cronin said that the stretch following the final television timeout, including that shift, was pivotal.

“That timeout, they’re a veteran team and they rebooted and they got a couple shifts in our zone, it took kind of the steam out of us,” Cronin said. “Give Fiala credit, he counter-hit (Radko) Gudas, and he was able to pick up the loose puck and stuff it.”

Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed only his third game in the past seven seasons, with what Hiller called “something nagging” that would not have kept him out of a more critical game. Of his prior two absences, one was for rest (Game 81 of the 2021-22 season) and the other was due to an illness on October 18, 2019.

That ascended Dubois, who played on the fourth line against Calgary on Thursday, to Kopitar’s spots on the top line and No. 1 power-play unit. He scored a power-play goal and Matt Roy added a five-on-five marker. David Rittich turned away 28 bids by the Ducks in a strong performance.

Trevor Zegras tallied for his seventh point in his past seven games. Lukáš Dostál had 25 saves.

Before Fiala’s goal, the Ducks took advantage of open ice, during a four-on-four situation, to break up Rittich’s shutout and halve their deficit with 8:42 to play. A savvy sequence ignited by a stretch pass by Dostál culminated in a far-side snipe for Zegras, his sixth goal of a campaign in which he missed 51 games due to injury.

“People can say whatever, he’s one of the more competitive players I’ve played with, and we love him in that locker room,” Troy Terry said. “It’s been a tough year with missing a lot of time … he rehabbed hard, he came back and he’s, arguably, been our best player since he came back.”

Earlier in the closing stanza, Leo Carlsson absolutely undressed the Kings’ defense, in particular their top defender, Drew Doughty. Carlsson burst through the neural zone, leaving checkers in his wake and when Doughty came to meet him he was the victim of a skate-to-backhand-to-forehand-and-then-between-the-legs deke that left the former Norris Trophy winner on his knees as Rittich finally halted Carlsson’s momentum.

“There aren’t too many guys who can move like that with their head up at top speed from the neutral zone in. I think it’s a serious problem for (defensemen),” Zegras said. “When you’ve got the feet, the hands and the brain, that’s a pretty good hockey player, that was, obviously, unbelievable.”

The Kings ventilated their lead with a second goal at the 10:33 mark of the middle frame. Akil Thomas earned his first NHL assist but the main exchange was between Blake Lizotte and Roy. Lizotte fed Roy for a shot that he slid into Lizotte’s skate, who returned the puck to Roy for a seeing-eye shot through heavy traffic, his fifth goal of the season.

After an evenly played 20 minutes, the game’s first goal came 2:45 into the second period. The Kings, with their second power play of the evening, saw more of the Dubois they expected back in the summer. He fed Viktor Arvidsson in the slot for a shot attempt before looking to set up Adrian Kempe with a centering pass. Kempe was tied up but Arvidsson found the puck down low, heaving it off Cam Fowler’s skate and directly to Dubois at the side of the net for his 16th goal as a King.

Dubois not only assumed a more familiar position from his prior stops, in Columbus and Winnipeg, in terms of which unit he played on, but also where he played with the extra man, moving off the flank and toward the high-danger areas of the ice.

“I’ve never really played on the half-wall in my career, so to get back to the net front was more of what I’ve done, basically, my entire life,” said Dubois, adding that it “felt good” to get back to a “comfort area.”

For the Ducks, some additional reassurance may also be on the way. Cutter Gauthier, who made a bold proclamation Saturday only to see his team get shut out in the NCAA championship game, will all but certainly join the Ducks for their season finale in Vegas.

“Hopefully we get a couple guys coming. Obviously the college hockey tournament just ended, so we’ll see what transpires in the next week, but it’s pretty exciting stuff,” Zegras said.

Cronin was mum on the possibility.

“I’m not sure about that. I just had a piece of pizza,” he joked.

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