Ducks, Kings gear up for another showdown (Nov 25, 2017)
LOS ANGELES — The schedule favored the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings this month, but neither has taken advantage.
Both teams had nine home games in November, but neither will finish with a winning record in those games heading into their matchup on Saturday night at Staples Center.
The Ducks (10-9-3) finished 3-5-1 at home this month after losing 4-1 to the visiting Winnipeg Jets on Friday.
The Kings (12-8-3) are 2-5-1 at home in November with just the Anaheim game remaining in Los Angeles.
The Ducks haven’t played outside California since Oct. 29, but they will need to regroup during their six-game road trip over the next 11 days. They’re currently looking up at 12 teams in the Western Conference standings.
Anaheim got off to slow starts in their past three homes games, getting outshot 48-21 in that span. They avoided falling behind in the opening period of the first two but gave up two goals in the first five minutes against the Jets.
“It’s all about our preparation as individuals,” Anaheim defenseman Francois Beauchemin said. “We need to make sure we’re ready as soon as the puck drops.”
The Kings traveled to Phoenix on Friday night and lost to the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 in overtime, their seventh loss in the past eight games. They’ve dropped to second in the Pacific Division and fifth in the West in that span.
“The guys are playing hard, we just have to clean up some execution errors to give our guys a better chance,” Kings coach John Stevens told reporters after the game.
The Kings beat the Ducks 4-3 in overtime in a spirited game at Honda Center on Nov. 7, and Los Angeles will likely face goaltender Ryan Miller again. Miller came off injured reserve on Friday and backed up John Gibson, who has faced 215 shots in his past five starts spanning 12 days.
The Ducks continue to be short-handed because of injuries, especially up front.
Ryan Getzlaf, the leading point scorer last season, is out at least another month with a facial fracture, second-line center Ryan Kesler is still about a month from returning from offseason hip surgery and winger Patrick Eaves is out indefinitely with an illness.
Anaheim forward Ondrej Kase, who had five goals and three assists in his first 10 games this season, hasn’t returned since sustaining an upper-body injury on a hit from Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid in the last meeting, which led to a game misconduct for MacDermid.
The injuries have forced the Ducks to play a number of young and experienced players, which has factored into the slow starts, the discrepancy in shots against and the overworked special teams. Anaheim has allowed at least one power play goal in four straight games.
“We have to be better in the start and our special teams have to give us a chance,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said
The schedule won’t get any easier. The opponents in the upcoming road trip for Anaheim include the St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets and Vegas Golden Knights, all with better records.
“There won’t be any easy ones,” Beauchemin said. “From now until Christmas, it’s going to be a sprint, lots of games every other day. We have to be mentally ready for that.”
Kings veteran forward Marian Gaborik made his season debut Friday after recovering from knee surgery. He had an assist and two takeaways in 13:51 of ice time.