ANAHEIM, Calif. — Something was missing from the first Freeway Faceoff of the season. Although the game had plenty of goals and a few big hits, this series’ usual pugnaciousness and belligerence was mostly nowhere to be seen.
Anaheim Ducks coach Dallas Eakins even told his staff afterward: “Whoa, what a rivalry. There were six minutes in penalties.”
The Ducks and Los Angeles Kings are both too busy trying to crawl up from the bottom of the Pacific Division standings to get into any major drama, and Anaheim took a solid step at its archrivals’ expense.
Derek Grant scored two goals, Ryan Miller made 34 saves and the Ducks beat the Kings 4-2 Monday night.
Jakob Silfverberg scored his team-leading 10th goal, Hampus Lindholm tied his career high with three assists, and Carter Rowney had a goal and an assist as the Ducks won for just the third time in 13 games.
The 145th regular-season meeting of Southern California’s NHL teams arrived at a low point for both franchises. The Kings are mired in last place for the second straight season despite a recent run of solid play, while the Ducks began the night only two points above them in seventh.
“We just treat it like a normal NHL game we want to win, but there’s a little something there,” Miller said. “There’s pride. I’ve lived in both areas, so I definitely want to win.”
And though there were no major shenanigans, the two head coaches getting their first taste of the rivalry could see what might develop in their four ensuing meetings this season.
“I still see it there,” Eakins said. “You saw a little bit of jawing out there, and that’s never going to go away.”
After jumping to an early 3-1 lead, Anaheim hung on through a tense third period with a few big saves from Miller, who filled in for an ailing John Gibson, before Grant scored an empty-net goal from centre ice with 38 seconds left. Grant and Rowney chipped in with three goals from the Ducks’ fourth line.
“As a team, when you’re struggling to score goals, you’re going to take them from anywhere,” Grant said.
Kurtis MacDermid and rookie Nikolai Prokhorkin scored for the last-place Kings, who have lost four of six. Jack Campbell stopped 16 shots, but his teammates couldn’t catch up in a lively derby.
“Disappointed in the start, and it's been that way on the road for a little while now,” Los Angeles coach Todd McLellan said. “Seems to me like we don't bring the same energy on the road as we do at home. We've got some things that we need to address. I don't know why it's happening, but we need to adjust.”
Both teams have been significantly better at home, and Anaheim capitalized to take a 2-0 lead in the first period.
After the Ducks went ahead in the opening minutes on a rebound goal by Grant, Silfverberg scored a power-play goal midway through the first on passes from fellow Swedes Lindholm and Rickard Rakell.
"If you want to win on the road, you’ve got to have a good start,” Kings forward Kyle Clifford said. “Home teams like playing in their building. They build momentum.”
Rowney scored his fifth goal of the season to put the Ducks up 3-1 just 56 seconds after MacDermid’s shot went through two screens for the Kings’ opening goal. Prokhorkin then scored an exceptional goal for Los Angeles, splitting two defencemen and driving to the net for his fourth career goal in 11 games.
NOTES: Gibson didn’t dress due to illness. Anthony Stolarz came up from the Ducks’ AHL affiliate in San Diego to back up Miller. ... Anaheim scratched forward Max Jones for the first time since Nov. 3. ... Silfverberg has scored at least 10 goals in all eight of his NHL seasons with Ottawa and Anaheim. ... MacDermid returned to the Kings’ lineup after being a scratch in their last game. D Paul LaDue was scratched instead. ... Ducks D Michael Del Zotto returned from a four-game absence in place of Jacob Larsson, who was sent down to San Diego two days ago.
Kings: Host the Washington Capitals on Wednesday.
Ducks: Host the Capitals on Friday.
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