Kase sends Ducks past LA Kings 4-2 in feisty rivalry game
By GREG BEACHAM
LOS ANGELES (AP) The latest Freeway Faceoff wasn't even three minutes old when the Anaheim Ducks and the Los Angeles Kings dropped the gloves.
They did it again on the ensuing faceoff - and again on the faceoff after that.
"That's good hockey right there," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said with a grin.
These rivals know it's never too early to fight for playoff position, and the Ducks landed the biggest blows in the latest edition of their Southern California feud.
Ryan Kesler scored a power-play goal and Corey Perry added an empty-net goal as the Ducks returned from their bye week with a physical, entertaining performance against the equally rested Kings in the 135th edition of the local derby.
Those three fights in four seconds of clock time energized the sold-out Staples Center crowd, and the combatants' teammates responded as well. Los Angeles defenseman Kurtis MacDermid and Anaheim enforcer Jared Boll had the first bout, which led to a fight between Andy Andreoff and Kevin Bieksa - and another between Kyle Clifford and Nick Ritchie.
"I've seen that a few times in this (rivalry)," Getzlaf said. "That's just guys who are sticking up for each other. It was good to see it on both sides."
After winning the last five consecutive Pacific Division titles, the Ducks got off to a slow start due to major injury problems. They're in fifth place in the crowded Pacific and just four points behind the second-place Kings - but Anaheim has a history of late-season surges.
"We're out of excuses now with the lineup," Getzlaf said. "It's about going for our push now. We want to take this segment before the All-Star Game and really push."
Kase had an outstanding return from a three-game absence before the bye due to the flu. The Czech forward scored in the first and third periods of the first three-point game of his NHL career.
"With the three fights in a row, I think everybody got fired up real quick," Kopitar said. "But I think the first 40 minutes on our part were not to the level that we want to play. The third period we're playing catch-up, and we're playing with desperation, which we should do the first two periods."
Jonathan Quick stopped 18 shots for the Kings, who have lost three straight. Los Angeles also missed the chance to gain ground on the Pacific-leading Vegas Golden Knights, who lost to Edmonton.
"We're sitting pretty good in the standings, but the teams behind are going to catch up if we keep losing to them," Kopitar said.
The Ducks took the lead when Kase slipped a long wrist shot past Quick's short side just 6:14 in.
Kesler then capitalized on a power play, firing the puck past Quick's glove hand for his second goal in his seven-game season. The veteran two-way center missed Anaheim's first 37 games while recovering from offseason hip surgery, returning right after Christmas.
Kase made it 3-0 early in the third after a heady play by Ritchie, who followed Quick behind the net and stole the goalie's clearing attempt for a slick pass. Kase's goal was his fifth in his last seven games.
A few minutes after Shore ended Gibson's shutout bid and his own 27-game goal drought since Nov. 7, Kopitar got his 18th goal on a one-timer from the slot with 6:14 to play.
Perry ended it with a remarkable empty-net goal from the far faceoff circle.
NOTES: Before the game, the Kings honored longtime announcer Bob Miller with a statue in Star Plaza outside Staples Center and a banner in the rafters. Miller was the voice of the Kings from 1973 until his retirement last summer. ... With Kase back from injury and Jared Boll in the lineup for a physical game, Anaheim scratched forwards Logan Shaw and Derek Grant. Shaw sat out for only the second time in the Ducks' 45 games, and Grant was scratched for only the third time all season. ... Kings D Jake Muzzin sat out again with an upper-body injury incurred Jan. 8 against Calgary. Kevin Gravel took his place.
Ducks: At the Colorado Avalanche on Monday.
Kings: Host the San Jose Sharks on Monday.
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Updated January 14, 2018