LA Kings snap 11-game road skid, hold off rival Ducks 2-1
By GREG BEACHAM
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) The Kings hadn't won outside of Los Angeles in more than seven weeks. Their streak of road futility is finally over, even if they didn't venture very far away from LA to get it done.
Jeff Carter and Matt Luff scored, Jonathan Quick made 36 saves and the Kings snapped their 11-game road winless skid Thursday night with a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks in the second Freeway Faceoff of the season.
Tyler Toffoli had two assists for the Kings, who had been 0-10-1 away from home since their last road win Oct. 22 in Winnipeg. Los Angeles has won just three road games all year, but its six-game road trip got off to a solid start just 30 miles south of Staples Center on the I-5.
"I don't even want to know how many we lost in a row on the road," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "We're really happy. We're going on a big road trip, and we've got to come back with a bunch of wins, because we want to climb out of this last spot in our conference, and we want to try to make a push to get up in the standings."
When Todd McLellan looks at the entirety of the Kings' season from mid-September to mid-December, the first-year head coach claims to see significant progress from his last-place team. The Kings are finally seeing that progress on the ice, and not many results are sweeter than a win over their closest rivals.
"There's enough that's been said and written and talked about as far as the road goes, and it was good to grind one out," McLellan said. "Our game has improved incrementally and slowly, but the group has improved immensely since training camp."
The Kings jumped to an early lead and held off a third-period surge by the rival Ducks, who have lost eight of 11.
Seventh-place Anaheim is 4-9-4 since then, and the Kings are just two points behind the Ducks at the bottom of the Pacific Division standings. Scoring is still a problem for the Ducks, who are 27th in the 31-team league in goals after finishing dead last in 2018-19.
"I thought we were engaged the whole night," Anaheim coach Dallas Eakins said. "It was a good team effort, but we need to find a way to not just get the puck to the goal line a couple of times, but over it. It's something we'll continue to work on. Even the goal we scored, (Quick) got a piece of it. He was certainly on his game tonight."
The Ducks beat the Kings 4-2 on Dec. 2 in the Southern California clubs' first derby of the season. Both matchups have featured a minimum of the heavy hitting and nasty play for which this rivalry is sometimes known, although Los Angeles' Kurtis MacDermid fought Anaheim's Nicolas Deslauriers in this edition.
The Kings got the opening goal when Luff swooped in on a loose rebound of Toffoli's shot in Gibson's crease and scored his first goal in nine appearances this season.
Carter scored from a sharp angle early in the second period immediately after Adam Henrique took a holding penalty to create a two-man advantage for the Kings.
"They scored one on the power play, and one that was greasy, nothing fancy," Anaheim's Jakob Silfverberg said. "That's what we didn't get tonight."
Quick's bid for his first shutout since Jan. 5 ended when the Ducks finally connected with a sharp sequence of power-play passes culminating in a shot by Grant, who got his third goal in two games against the Kings this season.
Quick finished strong, making a handful of sharp saves in his ninth win of the season. The high-priced veteran goalie has been the target of fans' ire this season, but he has put together two sharp starts while the Kings won their first back-to-back games since Nov. 16.
NOTES: Before the game, Anaheim assigned D Brendan Guhle to its AHL affiliate in San Diego. ... Los Angeles scratched LW Nikolai Prokhorkin for the second straight game. The 26-year-old NHL rookie took a hit to the head in Calgary last weekend. ... Anaheim scratched D Michael Del Zotto and C Devin Shore.
Kings: Visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday.
Ducks: Host the New York Rangers on Saturday before a four-game East Coast trip stretching to Christmas.
More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Updated December 13, 2019