Ducks say Hampus Lindholm might miss rest of season

The medical news was bad for the Ducks before they took the ice to face the Sharks on Monday night at SAP Center in San Jose. General Manager Bob Murray revealed defenseman Hampus Lindholm probably will be sidelined for the rest of the season because of a fractured wrist.

“If he’s OK to play the last week of the year, I doubt I will allow that to happen,” Murray said before the Ducks’ 4-0 victory over the Sharks. “We’re going to know more next week. There’s still a little pain with a certain motion, the downward motion, where that little chip is out of his bone.

“There’s an old chip from an injury a while ago and where it is it’s a tough place to heal. I’d love to get our full defense playing, don’t get me wrong, but you’ve got to put your eyes in the right direction if it comes to the last week of the year.

“Long-winded there, but I don’t know if you’re going to see him.”

Lindholm was hurt during a Feb. 27 game against the Vegas Golden Knights and the original estimate was that he would be sidelined for up to six weeks. He sat out Monday for a 21st game. Saturday marks seven weeks since he was injured during an overtime loss to Vegas.

He had two goals and four assists in 18 games before he was hurt.

Lindholm’s absence has sent a ripple effect through the Ducks’ defense corps, opening an opportunity for rookie Jamie Drysdale to make his NHL debut after a strong start to the season with the San Diego Gulls of the AHL. It also figures to give newly acquired defenseman Haydn Fleury a chance to play big minutes.

“With every injury, as tough as it is for the team, we also have to look at it as an opportunity for people to grow, get extra reps, and that’s going to bode well for Haydn, for sure,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said when asked how he might fill the void for the rest of the season.

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Rickard Rakell, Adam Henrique score goals, but Ducks lose in overtime

  • Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, left, blocks the shot by Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk in the overtime during a game at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks players celebrate center Adam Henrique ’s goal in the third period during a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson reacts after giving up a goal to Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson in the second period during a game at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson reacts after giving up a goal to Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson in the second period during a game at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks left wing Nicolas Deslauriers, left, shots pas Vegas Golden Knights right wing Keegan Kolesar during a game at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson reaches for the puck during a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras during a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Vegas Golden Knights team celebrate defenseman Alex Pietrangelo’s goal in the first period during a game against the Anaheim Ducks at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, front, body checks Vegas Golden Knights right wing Keegan Kolesar during a game at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras during a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks center Adam Henrique, center, looks up to the video board during a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. Henrique returned to the team after clearing the waivers. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks center Rickard Rakell celebrates his goal in the first period with the bench during a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks center Adam Henrique enters the game before a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. Henrique joined the team after clearing the waivers. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks center Rickard Rakell shoots to score the goal in the first period during a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf, right, trips Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone during a game at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks center Rickard Rakell, center, celebrates his goal in the first period during a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks head coach Dallas Eakins, top, watches his players during a game at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks center Rickard Rakell, front, celebrates his goal in the first period during a game against the Vegas Golden Knights at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson, right, scores the game-winning goal past Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson in the overtime during a game at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

  • Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson, right, blocks the shot by Vegas Golden Knights right wing Alex Tuch in the overtime during a game at Honda Center in Anaheim on Saturday, February 27, 2021. (Photo by Kyusung Gong/Contributing Photographer)

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ANAHEIM — Adam Henrique was the Ducks’ forgotten man for more than a week, after the Ducks placed him on waivers, after he went unclaimed, after he joined their taxi squad, and before he returned to their lineup for a 3-2 overtime loss Saturday to the Vegas Golden Knights at Honda Center.

“Brutal,” he said. “You’re put on that forgotten squad. You walk into the room and the next day it’s like everybody’s seen a ghost. I did what I had to do. Lineup decisions are out of my hands, so I just focused on controlling what I can control and that’s myself and my game and that’s it.”

Henrique scored the goal that sent the game to overtime tied 2-2, a close-range shot past Marc-Andre Fleury at 11:05 of the third period. The cheers of his teammates on the ice and on the bench pierced the quiet of the empty arena as he raised his arms in triumph.

It certainly would have made for a better story if Isac Lundestrom had beaten Fleury on one of his glorious scoring chances in OT or if William Karlsson hadn’t converted on a breakaway to win it for Vegas at 3:23 of the extra period. But the Ducks fell to 0-4-2 in their last six games.

“One point is not enough,” Henrique said. “It’s as simple as that, really.”

Henrique was credited with three shots on goal and 11 wins in 12 faceoffs while logging 14:43 of ice time. He skated between wingers Nicolas Deslauriers and Derek Grant to start the game and earned a promotion by the second period to play with Trevor Zegras and Jakob Silfverberg.

His mere presence seemed to ignite his teammates.

“I think the whole team was pumped to have ‘Rico’ back in the lineup,” Rickard Rakell said, referring to Henrique by his nickname. “We were even happier because he was the one who tied the game up for us, so he feels like he’s a part of the progress and helping the team.

“Hopefully, it gives all of us a boost.”

Rakell ended a 14-game drought without a goal when he scored 10:09 into the first period, smiling broadly and celebrating with his teammates, a mixture of joy and relief spreading across his face after he gave the Ducks a 1-0 lead that they failed to maintain by period’s end.

“It’s easy to get frustrated, and it has been a frustrating time, especially since I felt I had the scoring chances and had the shots on net,” Rakell said. “Just that final touch to make the puck go in hasn’t been going my way. I can look at the past and be really frustrated by it.

“Or I can take it game by game and try to improve and try to do something about it.”

The Ducks played a crisp game, all things considered. Their passes hit their intended targets. They had plenty of scoring chances. Their checking was sound. The second-to-last-place Ducks (6-10-5) certainly weren’t outplayed by the West Division-leading Golden Knights (12-4-1).

Ducks coach Dallas Eakins welcomed defenseman Hampus Lindholm back from a three-game layoff because of an unspecified lower body injury. The Ducks were 0-2-1 without Lindholm, who was reunited with Kevin Shattenkirk, his regular defense partner.

Despite the changes, the new-look Ducks took halting steps at the start and were outshot 5-0 in the opening minutes. They regrouped, though, and Rakell gave them a 1-0 lead midway through the first period, his first goal since Jan. 24 against the Colorado Avalanche.

There were plenty of chances to extend their lead, but the Ducks failed to convert them into goals, and by the end of an evenly-played second period, they trailed 2-1 after Alex Pietrangelo, at 16:28 of the first, and Karlsson, at 9:10 of the second, scored for Vegas.

“Overall, we played hard,” Eakins said. “That’s some steep competition over there. I thought maybe we could have been more assertive early. Eventually, we got our feet underneath us and started believing a little bit more in ourselves. We played a hard game, a gritty one to tie that up.”

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Ducks, Kings prospects overshadowed by AHL veterans as Gulls defeat Reign

  • Keegan Lowe (4), right, of the San Diego Gulls celebrates after scoring against the Ontario Reign to win the game 2-1 in the closing seconds of the third period during an AHL game at the Great Park Ice & Fivepoint Arena in Irvine on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Referees break up a fight between Bokondji Imama (18)of the Ontario Reign and Keegan Kanzig (40) of the San Diego Gulls in the second period of an AHL game at the Great Park Ice & Fivepoint Arena in Irvine on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Tyler Madden (27) of the Ontario Reign brings the puck down the ice against Chase De Leo (7), of the San Diego Gulls, in the first period during an AHL game at the Great Park Ice & Fivepoint Arena in Irvine on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Akil Thomas (14), of the Ontario Reign, prepares to shoot against the defense of goalie Goalie Lukas Dostal (1) of the San Diego Gulls in the second period during an AHL game at the Great Park Ice & Fivepoint Arena in Irvine on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Goalie Matthew Villata (31), of the Ontario Reign, blocks Sam Carrick (25), of the San Diego Gulls from scoring in the second period during an AHL game at the Great Park Ice & Fivepoint Arena in Irvine on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Goalie Lukas Dostal (1) of the San Diego Gulls catches a shot by the Ontario Reign during an AHL game at the Great Park Ice & Fivepoint Arena in Irvine on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Quinton Byfield (55) of the Ontario Reign and Jamie Drysdale (17) of the San Diego Gulls battle for the puck during an AHL game at the Great Park Ice & Fivepoint Arena in Irvine on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

  • Blaine Byron (12), of the Ontario Reign, slips past the defense the San Diego Gulls during an AHL game at the Great Park Ice & Fivepoint Arena in Irvine on Wednesday, February 10, 2021. (Photo by Leonard Ortiz, Orange County Register/SCNG)

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IRVINE — Together again. Trevor Zegras, Arthur Kaliyev and Alex Turcotte skated on the same ice at the same time Wednesday night at Great Park Ice for the first time since leading the United States to the World Junior Championship last month in Edmonton.

One thing, though.

They could be best friends forever after forging a bond with Team USA, but they officially became rivals when Zegras and the San Diego Gulls played host to Kaliyev and Turcotte and the Ontario Reign in the third American Hockey League games of their budding careers.

The initial professional matchup for the former linemates went to the Gulls, who rallied for a 2-1 victory on defenseman Keegan Lowe’s goal at 19:55 of the third period. Lowe is one of a handful of veterans on the Gulls’ roster, someone familiar with AHL battles who was signed to mentor the youngsters.

Gulls defenseman Josh Mahura had tied it 1-1 with a breakaway goal after exiting the penalty box at 9:01 of the third period. Lukas Dostal, a 20-year-old Czech Republic native who had been playing in Finland, made 40 saves in only his third game in North America.

Of course, the three Americans could continue to cheer for each other, as Zegras said he did when Kaliyev scored his first NHL goal in his debut on Feb. 2 at Staples Center. Kaliyev sent Zegras a postgame photo of the stick he used to score in the Kings’ 3-1 loss to the Ducks.

Zegras recognized it right away.

It was one of his.

There was his name printed right there on the shaft.

“That was awesome,” Zegras said, recounting the story the other day. “He was so excited to play. It was funny. I gave him a couple of sticks at World Juniors. He used one of them and scored with it. It’s pretty hilarious. He was so excited. It’s ‘Arty.’ Why would he not score, right?

“He didn’t score for the first two games of the (World Junior) tournament. He was, like, ‘Can I see your stick?’ I had a couple of extras in the room, so I gave them five or six. He’s still using them. Hopefully, he’ll get a couple of his own soon.”

Zegras was one of the Ducks’ four recent first-round picks in the Gulls’ lineup, joining Brayden Tracey from the 2019 draft and Jamie Drysdale and Jacob Perreault from 2020. Zegras was off to a sizzling start to his career, earning AHL Player of the Week honors with two goals and three assists.

The Reign countered with three recent first-round selections in Turcotte (2019), Rasmus Kupari (2018) and Quinton Byfield, last year’s second overall pick. Kaliyev was a second-round selection in 2019, but he certainly didn’t look out of place among the higher picks.

In the end, the player with the best pedigree of all staked the Reign to a 1-0 lead with a short-handed goal 1:16 into the second period. Brett Sutter, 33, the son of former Kings coach and current Ducks special assistant Darryl Sutter, beat everyone down the wing to score.

Mahura tied it and then Lowe won it.

Lowe, the son of former Edmonton Oilers Hall of Fame defenseman Kevin Lowe, has been paired with Drysdale as the Gulls’ top defense pair since the beginning of San Diego’s training camp last month. Lowe is 27 and Drysdale is 18. It’s turned into a winning combination.

“I think it’s awesome what they’re doing here,” Lowe said of the Gulls’ mix of younger and older players. “It’s great for us that they recognize the value of having veterans. We can provide that leadership. We can help. It’s a long schedule. We can help them adapt to the pro way of life.”

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Ducks take the game to Kings in comprehensive victory over rivals

  • Ducks left wing Nicolas Deslauriers, right, punches Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid in the face during the first period of Tuesday night’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid, left, and Ducks left wing Nicolas Deslauriers square up for a fight during the first period of Tuesday night’s game at Staples Center. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Ducks center Danton Heinen (43) scores a goal against Kings goaltender Cal Petersen during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • The Anaheim Ducks celebrate a goal scored by center Danton Heinen, right, during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Anaheim Ducks right wing Carter Rowney (24) takes a shot against Los Angeles Kings goaltender Calvin Petersen (40) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Ducks left wing Max Comtois (53) takes a shot as he falls against Kings goaltender Cal Petersen (40) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. Los Angeles Kings defenseman Olli Maatta (6) defends. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings center Jeff Carter (77) defends against Ducks defenseman Cam Fowler (4) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Ducks goaltender John Gibson (36) stops a shot during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Kings right wing Arthur Kaliyev, right, celebrates with center Michael Amadio (10) after scoring a goal during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday at Staples Center. Ducks defenseman Trevor Carrick (47) reacts. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Kings goaltender Calvin Petersen (40) deflects a shot by Anaheim Ducks defenseman Ben Hutton (7) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Kings goaltender Calvin Petersen (40) blocks a shot by Anaheim Ducks right wing David Backes (21) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Kings right wing Dustin Brown (23) catches himself on the boards as his stick flies and players shield themselves during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Anaheim Ducks center Troy Terry (61) and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar (11) reach for the puck during the second period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (36) makes a save during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Los Angeles Kings Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Anaheim Ducks defenseman Trevor Carrick (47) reaches around Los Angeles Kings center Gabriel Vilardi (13) for the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson (36) and defenseman Jani Hakanpaa (28) stop a shot by Los Angeles Kings center Gabriel Vilardi (13) during the third period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • Los Angeles Kings right wing Adrian Kempe reacts after a missed goal attempt during the third period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

  • The Anaheim Ducks celebrate a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings in an NHL hockey game Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

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Nicolas Deslauriers of the Ducks and Kurtis MacDermid of the Kings got the first of this season’s eight grudge matches between the rivals off to a rollicking start on Tuesday night at Staples Center, dropping the gloves to fight only three seconds after the opening faceoff.

It’s a tough way to earn a living, and MacDermid paid the price for his decision over Deslauriers, displaying bloodied knuckles while seated in the penalty box. Deslauriers cooled himself down by splashing water over his head while seated next door.

It was not that kind of a game, though.

Deslauriers did more skating, passing and shooting, but not that much more scoring than fighting as the Ducks took a 3-1 victory from the Kings. There was some intense, physical play, of course, but nothing that could compare to the rough stuff of seasons past.

These are not those kinds of teams anymore.

Deslauriers, a fourth-line winger who led the NHL with 14 fighting majors last season, mastered the more refined parts of the game Tuesday as the Ducks ended a three-game losing streak with a comprehensive victory that was their best overall showing in 11 games this season.

In addition to his first-period fight, he also assisted on linemate David Backes’ goal in the second that gave the Ducks a 2-0 lead and then scored into an empty net in the third to account for the final score for a well-earned Gordie Howe hat trick.

Danton Heinen also scored for the Ducks, who outshot the Kings by 43-21, including 15-4 in the opening period. John Gibson made 20 saves, with the Ducks easing his burden by taking the game to the Kings and putting them on their heels from start to finish.

“I thought we were on point with everything we wanted to accomplish,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “I would still like us to score more goals. The chances are there. We’ve just got to put them in the net. We still had a few times where I thought we passed up shots.

“It’s a good feeling to have an effort like that.”

Arthur Kaliyev, a crafty 19-year-old right wing, scored his first NHL goal in his first NHL game, a tap-in after Gibson had to scramble to deny Michael Amidio’s initial attempt from the right wing, pulling the Kings within 2-1 at 5:32 of the second period.

“It was a really special moment, getting the first one,” Kaliyev said. “You never forget those moments, getting your first goal. When I saw Amadio shoot off the pad (of Gibson), I thought I was going to see a rebound there. Luckily, I got the rebound and I was able to bury it.”

The goal came against the run of play and gave the Kings some much-needed momentum after the Ducks had hemmed them in for extended stretches in the first period. All things considered, a 2-1 deficit entering the third could have been far worse, as far as the Kings were concerned.

After all, the Ducks led in shots 33-11 to start the final period.

“There’s nothing that I didn’t like,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said of Kaliyev. “He’s a young player who was excited to play. The guys were excited for him. That gave us a little bit of life and a little bit of energy.”

Instead of retreating, the Ducks continued to push for a third goal in the third. They killed off an early holding penalty given to defenseman Hampus Lindholm, but then couldn’t click on a power play moments later, with the Kings penalized for having too many men on the ice.

Kings goalie Cal Petersen was under pressure from the start and made several big saves to keep the Kings within striking distance until the end. He also got help from the right goalpost when Adam Henrique hammered a shot off the iron while the Ducks were on their third-period power play.

Henrique was back in the Ducks’ lineup after he was scratched from Sunday’s game, a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues. Eakins sent a message and the message was received loud and clear, judging by Henrique’s strong play while skating alongside Ryan Getzlaf and Troy Terry.

Each of the Ducks’ four lines contributed, but none more than the Deslauriers, Backes and Carter Rowney line. Deslauriers’ goal, with 46 seconds remaining and Petersen on the bench in favor of a sixth attacker, was unassisted. Rowney set up Backes’ goal with a deft pass from below the goal line.

It was Backes’ first goal since Dec. 1, 2019, while with the Boston Bruins.

“I don’t know how many games it had been,” Backes said. “It might have been 12 games (actually, it was 15) since I scored. I got back to the bench and you forget how good it feels to score. I want to just keep doing it. I had a lot of shots, a lot of opportunities.

“My linemates were working their butts off.”

Deslauriers seals the win with an ANAHEIM GOOOOOOAAAAAAAL🚨#FlyTogether I @AnaheimDucks I #FreewayFaceoff pic.twitter.com/KWaRuCczoW

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) February 3, 2021

Deslauriers with the Gordie Howe hat trick tonight 👀
🚨🏒👊🏼#FlyTogether I @AnaheimDucks I #FreewayFaceoff I @AlysonLozoff pic.twitter.com/PX3Q07sRqJ

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) February 3, 2021

“I thought we were on point on everything we wanted to accomplish. I would still like us to score more goals. The chances are there.”#FlyTogether I @AnaheimDucks pic.twitter.com/TjjEZOZyZo

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) February 3, 2021

Todd McLellan keeps it real after tonight’s loss ⬇#FreewayFaceoff | @LAKings pic.twitter.com/788GMCMlZT

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) February 3, 2021

Cal Petersen address the media after a stellar performance 👇@LAKings | #FreewayFaceoff pic.twitter.com/EDY0nrfOkr

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) February 3, 2021

He’s still got it in him! 💪🏼Two ⭐⭐ for David Backes tonight! #FlyTogether I @AnaheimDucks pic.twitter.com/gjb8Y6adVl

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) February 3, 2021

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Ducks work overtime, earn a point, but fall to Avalanche

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog (92) celebrates after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks in overtime of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) vies for the puck against Colorado Avalanche forwards Mikko Rantanen (96) and Nathan MacKinnon (29) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche players, including Samuel Girard (49) and J.T. Compher, celebrate a goal against Anaheim Ducks during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk (22) and Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon (29) vie for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) stops a shot in front of Colorado Avalanche forwards Nazem Kadri (91) and Valeri Nichushkin (13) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen, left, and Ducks forward Carter Rowney chase the puck during the first period of Friday’s game at Honda Center. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forwards Tyson Jost (17) controls the puck as Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (41) defends against Anaheim Ducks defenseman Jacob Larsson (32) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks forward Carter Rowney (24) falls over Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen (96) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Mikko Rantanen (96) controls the puck while defended by Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm (47) during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf (15) works between Colorado Avalanche forwards Valeri Nichushkin (13) and Gabriel Landeskog (92) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert (11) gets caught between an official and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Jacob Larsson (32) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer (31) blocks a shot as Devon Toews (7) defends against Anaheim Ducks forward Max Jones (49) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks forward Max Jones (49) works against Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews (7) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer (31) stops a shot by Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf (15) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert (11) controls the puck next to Anaheim Ducks forward Max Jones (49) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche goalie Philipp Grubauer (31) and forward Nathan MacKinnon (29) defend as Anaheim Ducks forward Derek Grant (38) shoots during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Nazem Kadri (91) falls as he chases the puck in front of Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf (15) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard (49) works with the puck next to Anaheim Ducks forward Maxime Comtois (53) during the second period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Anaheim Ducks’ Adam Henrique (14) celebrates Jakob Silfverberg (33) after scoring against the Colorado Avalanche during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog celebrates after scoring against Anaheim Ducks in overtime of an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

  • Colorado Avalanche players celebrate after an overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks in an NHL hockey game in Anaheim, Calif., Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)

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ANAHEIM — The man atop the Ducks’ most-wanted list remained in trade limbo on Friday.

No, not top prospect Trevor Zegras. He continued to hone his craft with the AHL’s San Diego Gulls.

The Ducks were said to be among the most aggressive teams pursuing a deal for Pierre-Luc Dubois of the Columbus Blue Jackets, increasing their offer for the 22-year-old center. The Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets reportedly were the other teams in the mix.

A deal was expected to be completed by the end of the weekend.

No question, the Ducks could have used all of Dubois’ many skills with the puck as they struggled to score again during a 3-2 overtime loss to the Colorado Avalanche at Honda Center. The goal-starved Ducks’ overall play was vastly improved over their first four games of the season.

But they didn’t exactly light up the scoreboard and they fell to 1-2-2.

The Ducks have only eight goals in five games.

Gabriel Landeskog scored 1:38 into OT to lift the Avalanche (3-2-0), chasing down his own rebound and slipping the puck into the net from near the right goal post. Ducks goalie John Gibson made a spectacular initial save, but couldn’t reset himself in time to stop the second bid.

“That’s the best game we’ve played,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “I thought our guys played hard. We had lots of chances to score. We had lots of looks at their net. Some guys who maybe hadn’t had a lot of attempts on net, a lot of shots, woke up.”

The Ducks rallied from deficits of 1-0 and 2-1 to force the game to OT and earn a point.

They wanted the second one, too.

“It’s so disappointing not to get the points when you play well like that,” said Eakins, who was every bit as encouraged by his team’s play Friday as he was upset about it after Wednesday’s loss to the Minnesota Wild. “We’ll let it hurt for a little bit, but we are going to take some good out of this game.”

Mikko Rantanen gave the Avalanche a 2-1 lead at 6:20 of the third period, chipping home a centering pass from rookie defenseman Bowen Byram. Adam Henrique then answered for the Ducks 1:22 later, set up by Danton Heinen for his first goal of the season.

Gibson then saved Nathan MacKinnon’s penalty shot 47 seconds later to preserve the 2-2 tie at 8:31 of the third. Defenseman Hampus Lindholm was whistled for covering the puck with his hand while it was in the crease during a goalmouth scramble.

“That’s a dangerous player (MacKinnon) and ‘Gibby’ handled it like it was nothing,” Eakins said of Gibson, who made 29 saves in his return to the net after sitting out Wednesday. “That’s a massive save at an absolutely critical part of the game. But that’s what ‘Gibby’ brings.”

Jakob Silfverberg nearly produced the tying goal, after Joonas Donskoi scored a power-play goal to put Colorado ahead 1-0 only 2:56 into the game. Philipp Grubauer denied Silfverberg’s initial try with a toe save and then sprawled to deflect the rebound attempt and keep it out of the net.

Silfverberg was one of the names Eakins named after the Ducks’ listless 3-2 loss to the Wild on Wednesday. In fact, Silfverberg was benched for several shifts in the second period, along with linemates Henrique and Heinen as Eakins tried to jump-start his team.

On

Friday, Eakins started fourth-line grinders Nicolas Deslauriers, Derek Grant and Carter Rowney, not to send a message to his more gifted skaters and playmakers but simply to get the Ducks off to a better start than in their first four games of the season.

It didn’t work.

Lindholm was penalized for holding 59 seconds into the opening period, and Donskoi made the Ducks pay with a shot from the lower portion of the right faceoff circle that ricocheted off the right goal post and past Gibson for Colorado’s 10th power-play goal in 22 chances this season.

Lindholm redeemed himself with a wicked shot off Grubauer’s outstretched glove 47 seconds into the second period, tying the score 1-1 by converting from the left wing after a clever pass from Rickard Rakell. Ryan Getzlaf also assisted, moving him within seven of 700 for his career.

“We definitely had some steps moving in the right direction, I think, but if you want to be a winning team you have to win these types of games, too,” Lindholm said. “It’s a long season and we’ve only played five games. If we can keep taking strides like we’ve been doing, it’s going to be a fun year.”

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Ducks sputter early and late in season-opening loss to Golden Knights

  • The Ducks’ Hampus Lindholm skates with the puck as the Golden Knights’ Nicolas Roy pursues during the second period of their season opener on Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Josh Manson #42 of the Anaheim Ducks skates with the puck against Reilly Smith #19 of the Vegas Golden Knights in the first period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • Anaheim Ducks left wing Max Comtois (53) looks up at center Sam Steel (23) after scoring against the Vegas Golden Knights during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Max Comtois #53 of the Anaheim Ducks slides into Robin Lehner #90 of the Vegas Golden Knights after scoring the first of his two goals in the first period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Mark Stone #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck against Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the Anaheim Ducks in the second period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: John Gibson #36 of the Anaheim Ducks blocks a shot in front of Mark Stone #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights in the second period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) celebrates with teammates after the team’s win over the Anaheim Ducks in an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Vegas Golden Knights left wing Tomas Nosek (92) is congratulated after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Anaheim Ducks center Sam Steel (23) and Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Brayden McNabb reach for the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: William Karlsson #71 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck ahead of Kevin Shattenkirk #22 of the Anaheim Ducks in the second period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Max Pacioretty #67 of the Vegas Golden Knights skates with the puck ahead of Josh Manson #42 and Cam Fowler #4 of the Anaheim Ducks as Chandler Stephenson #20 of the Golden Knights trails the play in the second period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Robin Lehner #90 of the Vegas Golden Knights takes a break during a stop in play in the first period of a game against the Anaheim Ducks at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud (2) shoots as Anaheim Ducks’ Hampus Lindholm (47) defends during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Vegas Golden Knights left wing Max Pacioretty (67) is congratulated by teammates after scoring against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Vegas Golden Knights center Nicolas Roy (10) congratulates right wing Alex Tuch (89) after his empty-net goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Vegas Golden Knights center William Karlsson (71) moves in on Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Anaheim Ducks left wing Danton Heinen (43) shoots as Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner (90) defends during the third period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Vegas Golden Knights right wing Alex Tuch (89) and Anaheim Ducks left wing Nicolas Deslauriers (20) reach for the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Anaheim Ducks left wing Max Comtois (53) reacts after scoring against the Vegas Golden Knights goalie Robin Lehner (90) during the first period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) blocks a shot as Vegas Golden Knights right wing Mark Stone (61) looks for the rebound during the second period of an NHL hockey game Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Robin Lehner #90 of the Vegas Golden Knights blocks a shot in front of Sam Steel #23 of the Anaheim Ducks in the third period of their game at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Golden Knights defeated the Ducks 5-3. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

  • LAS VEGAS, NEVADA – JANUARY 14: Mark Stone #61 of the Vegas Golden Knights waves to an empty arena after being named the first star of the game following the team’s 5-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks at T-Mobile Arena on January 14, 2021 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Games at the arena are being played without fans in attendance because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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An empty arena and an elite opponent awaited the Ducks when they returned to the ice for the first time in more than 10 months because of the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday night at T-Mobile Arena. In the opening minutes, they looked exactly like a confused team that hadn’t played in 309 days.

The Ducks gave up two goals in the first 2 minutes, 13 seconds.

Uh-oh.

Matters would improve, but not enough to produce a victory for the Ducks, who dropped a 5-2 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights in their coronavirus-delayed season opener. The Ducks certainly had their moments, especially during an excellent second period, but not enough of them to win.

Mark Stone scored the tiebreaking goal 49 seconds into the third period, converting from the slot off a pass from below the goal line from Vegas teammate Chandler Stephenson to give the Golden Knights a 3-2 lead. Max Comtois had scored twice to rally the Ducks to a 2-2 tie in the first.

Stone then set up Max Pacioretty’s goal that made it 4-2 at 10:59 of the third.

Alex Tuch scored an empty-net goal with 14 seconds left for Vegas.

“We didn’t hang our heads when we got down early,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said, ticking off a list of positive developments in their first game since March 11. “We were able to battle back and get back in the game. I thought (Sam) Steel and Comtois and (Troy) Terry were real solid overall.

“I thought our second period was a real good one overall for us. So, there were some good things, but in the end, it’s about the two points and there’s a few things we’ve got to clean up.”

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk made his Ducks debut after signing a three-year, $11.7-million contract after helping to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup championship this past fall. Shattenkirk played a team-leading 23:55, had three shots on goal and a minus-1 defensive rating.

“Our response in the first period was great, the way we just took a deep breath,” Shattenkirk said. “We realized it was the first game of the year, no exhibition games, there’s going to be some mistakes made and they capitalized on them, but we did the same thing to them.”

John Gibson made 24 saves, including two on breakaways by Pacioretty. The Ducks didn’t give him much help in the opening minutes as they fell behind 2-0 less than three minutes into the game. He blanked the Golden Knights for the rest of the first period and all of the second.

“He made some big saves for us,” Eakins said. “Las Vegas likes to really make those quick-strike plays from below the goal line, but overall, I thought ‘Gibby’ was good.”

A mistake-filled first 10 minutes might have been excused since the Ducks and Golden Knights had short training camps and didn’t play exhibition games to work out the rough edges, and there were plenty of them as the teams went on a scoring spree.

Jonathan Marchessault split Ducks defensemen Jacob Larsson and Jani Hakanpaa, their new third pair, and beat Gibson with a perfect shot over his left shoulder only 1:07 into the game. Tomas Nosek then made it 2-0 for Vegas from close range at 2:13.

Normally, a start like that would have had fans in T-Mobile Arena screaming for more, but the only sounds came from the Golden Knights’ bench, and even that was muted. Slowly but certainly, the Ducks regrouped and rallied to tie the score at 2-2 on the goals from Comtois.

Then again, maybe it wasn’t all that slowly.

Steel set up the first of Comtois’ goals with an alert pass to the front of the net at 4:22. Ryan Getzlaf set up the second with some hard work to pry the puck loose from Vegas defenseman Zach Whitecloud. He then fed a cross-crease pass to an unmarked Comtois for the tying goal at 7:58.

The teams settled down for the rest of the first period and they were deadlocked, 2-2.

It stayed that way until Vegas scored three times in the decisive third period.

“As the game went on we tried to be aggressive and play our game and we forgot sometimes to cover our ‘D’ and we got bit with two goals and the empty-netter and that’s how it went,” Comtois said. “We’ve got to go back to the video room and see what went good and what went wrong.

“We know we can play with those guys. We saw it in the first and the second.”

The Ducks get another crack at the Golden Knights on Saturday in Las Vegas.

NOTES

Comtois’ goals, both in the first 7:58 of the game, marked the fastest two goals by an NHL player to start a season in more than 15 years. The last NHL player to score two goals in the first eight minutes of a season was the Kings’ Jeremy Roenick, who scored two goals in the first 4:18 on Oct. 5, 2005, in Dallas. … The Golden Knights improved to 9-2-2 against the Ducks since they entered the league in 2017. … The Ducks had won three straight season openers.

Give the kid another!!@comtois20 roofs a sweet pass from Getzlaf for his 2nd goal of the period!@AnaheimDucks | #FlyTogether pic.twitter.com/Moy4IFjwuY

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

“We’re a very tough team to play against, we just weren’t able to stick with it there and do it in the third period to keep that game close.”@AlysonLozoff sits down with Kevin Shattenkirk to discuss his first night with the @AnaheimDucks pic.twitter.com/4lnOccmi7M

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

.@AnaheimDucks head coach Dallas Eakins goes over tonight’s season opener.#FlyTogether pic.twitter.com/hmXCL6euS7

— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) January 15, 2021

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Alexander: Kings edge Ducks in latest installment of Freeway Futures Game

ANAHEIM — Someday, the Ducks and Kings will be good again, and their games against each other will have playoff implications like the good old days. It could be sooner, but it more likely will be later.

In the meantime, SoCal’s NHL rivalry is interesting in more subtle ways, as long as the observer understands the greater ambitions for these franchises. Success is measured in little things, in the ways the young players both sides possess stick to their systems, reduce mistakes and turn them into positive moments.

Thursday night it was the Kings’ turn to celebrate on the ice, their 2-1 victory ending an 11-game road losing streak. It included goals from veteran Jeff Carter and youngster Matt Luff, a 36-save performance from Jonathan Quick that brought back visions of a time when elite goaltending made the Kings an elite team, and an old-school, toe-to-toe heavyweight brawl between former teammates, the Kings’ Kurtis MacDermid and the Ducks’ Nic Deslauriers.

The latter, which took place midway through the second period and went to MacDermid on what This Space would consider a split decision, livened things up considerably. The back story was that the two were roommates in the Kings’ development camp years ago, and from the way they comported themselves during the fight and afterward, the mutual respect was evident.

pic.twitter.com/LWgm2XSRE3

— Eric (@Kingsgifs) December 13, 2019

MacDermid, a rugged 6-foot-5, 233-pound defenseman who was signed as an undrafted free agent, is an example of the type of player who, developed successfully, can be a mainstay of this rivalry in the future. He’s played the bulk of the last four seasons in Ontario, with 34 games with the Kings in 2017-18 and 11 last season, and he is a minus-3 in 18 games with the Kings this year.

But there is significant progress there.

“If we had a category … for most improved, in my opinion, he would get first, second and third place,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. “He’s really come a long way. I know that Yawns (Trent Yawney), our back end coach, has a tremendous amount of confidence in him, and I think he feels that. And his teammates love having him in the lineup. So he works at his game and he deserves the ice time he’s getting. If that progression continues, we’ve got a pretty darn good player.”

How much did McClellan know about MacDermid before he took the job?

“Dermie? You know, those type of players, you know a little bit about,” he said. “They carry reputations. I didn’t know that he was as effective a player as he was. And he just continues to show us night after night that he’s very capable of playing.”

MacDermid, 25, is an example of what the Kings are developing. Luff, who knocked a loose puck past John Gibson for the Kings’ first goal, is another. The 22-year-old was sent back to Ontario for a spell last month, has been in the lineup off and on since, and is searching for that comfort zone that will enable him to play on instinct.

“I’ve got a good leadership core here,” he said, referring to forwards Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and Tyler Toffoli. “I mean, those guys talk to me and make sure I understand that there is time and I don’t have to rush a play.

“There’s always a point where, when you’ve played enough games, you’re (familiar with) the system, where you should be and shouldn’t be when the puck’s on different sides of the ice. And I think I’ve settled in more recently, versus when I was first up here. So now it’s kind of just going with the flow of the game and not thinking, just going with what I know is going to happen and just using that to my advantage.”

The progress from a team standpoint is going from not getting blown out to being close to actually finishing plays and winning games. It sounds easier than it is.

Drew Doughty knows it’s hard to rush the process, but he senses that the Kings’ young guys are getting it. Or at least starting to.

“It’s different nowadays,” he said. “Back when I was a young guy it was all about making good defensive plays. And that’s kind of what you were (evaluated) on. Now it’s about creating plays, and getting up there and having lots of shots on net and stuff like that. They all have that naturally, (and) we just have to kind of help them a little bit with the D zone.

“Early in the season, we were giving up too many goals and then we were getting dominated. But now these young guys are learning how to play defense and how to do the right things in our own zone. And that’s why we’re playing better.”

When he was a young guy? This is his 12th NHL season, at age 30. If that makes you, the fan, feel old, you aren’t alone.

“That’s a pretty long time ago,” he said. “But yeah, I still got lots of time left in me.”

As previously noted, the Kings and Ducks are in basically the same predicament. But the Ducks have been a lot more aggressive in sending players back and forth between Anaheim and their AHL team in San Diego than the Kings have in shuffling players between the L.A. and Ontario rosters.

Ducks coach Dallas Eakins says he sees progress, but nights like Thursday – when his guys seemed to do everything but finish at the net – are yet another reminder of how hard this game is.

“We’re going to be sticking with the plan,” he said. “We’ve got some very good young players who are doing their best to get better every day, and we’re just hoping these reps they’re getting and the reps they’re getting in San Diego are going to turn out good for them.

“Young players are going to have up and down nights. Our veteran guys, if you graph them out, it’s a very even line graph. Younger guys kind of go up and down. But overall, I think our guys are doing well.”

The best way to be a Ducks or a Kings fan these days? Don’t focus on the standings for a while. Think of the future.


The Kings’ Matt Luff, left, celebrates with teammate Michael Amadio after scoring a first-period goal during their 2-1 victory over the rival Ducks on Thursday night at Honda Center. One of several young players on the Kings’ roster, the 22-year-old Luff was sent back to the team’s AHL affiliate in Ontario for a spell last month, has been in the lineup off and on since, and is searching for the comfort zone that will enable him to play on instinct. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Ducks show off resilient play in victory over rival Sharks

ANAHEIM — There was a relentless quality to the Ducks’ play Saturday during their 3-1 victory over the rival San Jose Sharks at Honda Center. You could see it when they chased down loose pucks in the corners and at center ice. You could see it as they pressured the Sharks from one end of the rink to the other.

One sequence summed it all up in one tidy package in the pivotal second period, after the Ducks had given up the tying goal and they could have succumbed to the frustration and lack of confidence that plagued them so frequently last season.

Josh Manson settled down the play in his own end of the ice, passing the puck to defense partner Hampus Lindholm, who passed it ahead to Ondrej Kase at the defensive blue line, and then Kase passed it ahead to a streaking Ryan Getzlaf at the attacking blue line.

Wait, Getzlaf streaking?

It was true.

It happened in a flash.

The Ducks’ 34-year-old center got a step on the Sharks’ defense and raced in to restore the lead.

A little more than a minute passed from the time Logan Couture scored for the Sharks and Getzlaf countered for the Ducks. Instead of letting down after Couture’s goal, the Ducks regrouped, applying the sort of pressure they had absorbed in the past.

The Sharks, not the Ducks, were the vulnerable team. San Jose was thumped twice by the Vegas Golden Knights to start the season, including by 5-1 on Friday, and had trouble keeping pace with the fresher Ducks. Getzlaf and the Ducks feasted on the Sharks’ flatfooted play.

“I thought we did a good job of responding tonight after the goal,” Adam Henrique said, referring to Getzlaf’s charge down the ice to score. “Right from the D-zone, Kase to Getzlaf and Getzlaf made a great play. I think that was a key for us tonight.”

In the closing minutes, after the Ducks were penalized for having too many men on the ice, goaltender John Gibson came up with several key stops and the Sharks were turned away repeatedly. Gibson made 35 saves and has stopped 67 of 69 shots in two victories to start the season.

“He’s been incredible through the first two games,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said of Gibson. “He’s been our best penalty-killer.”

Nicolas Deslauriers made his Ducks debut as Eakins altered his lineup after Thursday’s opening-night win over the Arizona Coyotes. Deslauriers brought Ducks fans to their feet with a spirited first-period fight with the Sharks’ Brenden Dillon.

Another lineup change resulted in Michael Del Zotto replacing Korbinian Hozler in the Ducks’ third defense pair. The move paid dividends when Del Zotto scored only 3:38 into the game, after an alert pass from Kase, following goalie Aaron Dell’s misplay with the puck behind the net.

The Ducks held a one-goal lead until Erik Karlsson fed a pass to a circling Couture in the right faceoff circle and Couture beat Gibson to tie it 1-1 at 5:44 of the second period. The Sharks’ goal came moments after the Ducks had been pressing for a second goal.

Kase then set up Getzlaf for the tiebreaking strike with a pass that freed the Ducks’ captain from the trailing Sharks. Getzlaf made one quick, decisive move and beat Dell to make it 2-1 at 6:51, crashing into the end boards with a thud that was drowned out by the roars of the crowd.

Henrique made it 3-1 at 18:48 of the second, stripping the puck from San Jose’s Tomas Hertl in the neutral zone and then zipping past the Sharks’ Kevin Labanc before lifting a backhanded shot from point-blank range over Dell’s left shoulder. Dell had zero chance on the play.

“Getting up one, you want to get that next one,” Henrique said of the Ducks’ attitude after Getzlaf had given them a 2-1 lead. “You want to keep pushing. You don’t want to sit back and allow them to come at us. You want to keep pushing. As a younger group, that’s something we have to learn.

“It will allow us to grow as a group.”

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Gulls fall to Wolves in double-OT in Game 4 of Western Conference final

The San Diego Gulls played on a knife’s edge for most of Game 4 of the AHL’s Western Conference final Friday against the Chicago Wolves. Their margin for error was razor thin as the teams skated into a second overtime, deadlocked at a goal apiece.

Ultimately, the Gulls were caught in transition one too many times and paid the price when the Wolves’ Daniel Carr scored 6:01 into the second OT period to give Chicago a 2-1 victory in front of 12,147 at Pechanga Arena. Kevin Boyle simply couldn’t save the Gulls from themselves.

Boyle made 42 saves, but he couldn’t stop Carr’s shot that capped an odd-man rush as the Gulls got caught up ice. Justin Kloos had scored the tying goal for the Gulls at 3:36 of the third period, forcing the teams to overtime for the second time in four games in the series.

“He kept us in it and he had one hell of a night,” Gulls coach Dallas Eakins said of Boyle. “I thought he was excellent in the net. That game could have been three or four to nothing after two periods and he kept us close enough that we could get it tied up.”

The Gulls, the Ducks’ AHL team, and the Wolves, the Vegas Golden Knights’ top minor-league affiliate, are tied 2-2 in the best-of-7 series. Game 5 is Saturday in San Diego. Game 6, which is now necessary, will be played Monday at Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois.

The winner of the Gulls-Wolves series faces the winner of the Eastern Conference final between the Charlotte Checkers and the Toronto Marlies. The Checkers took a 3-2 series lead over the Marlies with a 4-1 victory Friday at Toronto.

Kloos scored on a quick shot from the edge of the right faceoff circle to tie the score 1-1 only 3:36 into the third. Jack Kopacka sent a backhanded pass into an open patch of ice and Kloos skated onto the puck and beat Wolves goalie Oscar Dansk.

The Gulls opened Game 4 by outshooting the Wolves by 5-1, but they couldn’t maintain their early energy and momentum. By the end of a scoreless first period, the Gulls were outshot 15-9, and only the superb play of Boyle prevented them from trailing by a goal or more.

Chicago continued to dominate play to start the second, testing Boyle repeatedly until the Wolves’ Griffin Reinhart slammed a shot into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead at 4:17. Boyle stopped the Wolves’ first 20 shots, but he was helpless to stop Reinhart as he skated into the slot and scored.

San Diego chased the game for most of the first two periods before finally stringing three or four quality shifts together in the closing minutes of the second. The Gulls were outshot 16-3 in the second and by 31-12 going into the third.

“We had a terrible start the first two periods,” Gulls defenseman Jaycob Megna said. “We couldn’t seem to get anything going. It didn’t seem like we wanted it or were as desperate as they were. We came out in the third period and I thought we showed a lot more desperation. We played a lot better.

“You get into overtime and it’s anyone’s game.”

Boyle went into the game with a 3-0 record, a 2.06 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage in the playoffs, having regained the No. 1 goaltender’s position in favor of Jeff Glass after shutting out the Wolves in Game 2 at Rosemont.

Boyle didn’t play in five straight because of a head injury suffered in Game 2 of the Gulls’ second-round series victory over the Bakersfield Condors. The Gulls eliminated the Condors in six games and advanced to their first conference finals in the fourth season of the franchise.

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Sam Steel, Trevor Murphy lead Gulls to victory over Wolves in Game 3

Sam Steel scored a highlight reel-caliber goal while the San Diego Gulls were shorthanded and defenseman Trevor Murphy added what proved to be the winner in a 3-2 victory Wednesday over the Chicago Wolves in Game 3 of the AHL’s Western Conference final at Pechanga Arena.

San Diego, the Ducks’ AHL team, leads the best-of-7 series 2-1.

Games 4 and 5 are Friday and Saturday at Pechanga Arena. The winner of the Western Conference final meets the winner of the Eastern Conference final between Charlotte and Toronto in the Calder Cup final. Charlotte leads that series 2-1, with Game 4 set for Thursday in Toronto.

The Gulls led 3-1 going into the third period despite losing defenseman Andy Welinski to a five-minute major and a game misconduct for a check to the head of Chicago’s Cody Glass a little more than five minutes into the second period. Glass was not seriously injured and continued to play.

“Losing Andy in the game that early is a big blow to us because he’s a big part of our offense back there,” Gulls coach Dallas Eakins told reporters in San Diego. “He’s a big part of our power play. That being said, when you see a player laying there like that … you hold your breath.

“We don’t want to see anyone hurt.”

Steel had scored a short-handed goal to give the Gulls a 2-1 lead at 3:34 of the second. Steel plucked a breakout pass by Wolves goalie Oscar Dansk out of midair along the right-wing boards and then skated in alone to slip a shot between Dansk’s legs for the tiebreaking goal.

Chicago’s Curtis McKenzie was penalized for roughing as a fracas broke out following Welinski’s hard hit on Glass in the corner to the left of Gulls goalie Kevin Boyle. So, the teams skated 4 on 4 for two minutes before the Wolves went on a three-minute power play.

The Gulls blanked the Wolves, though, and then Murphy extended San Diego’s lead to 3-1 with an even-strength goal at 11:44. Murphy capped a scramble in front of Dansk’s net by slamming a perimeter shot through traffic and past the well-screened goalie.

Corey Tropp of the Gulls countered Tye McGinn’s goal for the Wolves and the score was tied 1-1 after the first period. McKenzie brought the Wolves, the Vegas Golden Knights’ AHL club, within 3-2 when he scored with Dansk pulled for a sixth attacker with 3:30 left in the third period.

Chicago had a two-man advantage for 53 seconds in the first period, but couldn’t break a 1-1 deadlock. Kiefer Sherwood was whistled for tripping at 12:05 and Sam Carrick followed his Gulls teammate to the penalty box for cross-checking at 13:13.

The Wolves were 0 for 4 on the power play; the Gulls were 0 for 2.

“I think the difference in the game tonight was our penalty killers came up big, not only killing off some crucial power plays … and they chipped in with a goal and it was a big one when it was 1-1,” Eakins said, referring to Steel’s short-handed goal. “For me, that was the difference tonight.

“Five on five, pretty even game.”

“Coming into our home ice, obviously we’re very comfortable here. Our fans are excellent. I thought they were a big part of our game tonight.” – head coach Dallas Eakins #FlightToTheCup | #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/8GllTZHVcA

— x- San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) May 23, 2019

Real deal Sam Steel! 🔥#FlightToTheCup | #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/HS5XbJQCjS

— x- San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) May 23, 2019

🚨TREVOR MURPHY!🚨

Makes it 3-1! Murphy with a blast from the blue line, through traffic, gives us the two-goal lead! Street and Tropp get the assists, eight to play in the second!#FlightToTheCup | #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/9sCYy1NNY8

— x- San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) May 23, 2019

“It’s just a lot of fun. Two teams competing, going toe-to-toe. It’s a pretty good show for the fans. It’s playoff hockey.”

Trevor Murphy and Corey Tropp talk to the media following tonight’s Game 3 win. #FlightToTheCup | #LetsGoGulls pic.twitter.com/uKTOqJjost

— x- San Diego Gulls (@SDGullsAHL) May 23, 2019

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