Captain Anze Kopitar scored the only goal in the shootout, and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 Saturday night in a low-stakes edition of the Freeway Faceoff.
Carter Rowney put the Ducks ahead with a short-handed goal midway through the third period, but Carl Grundstrom tied it for the Kings with 3:53 left in regulation.
Kopitar then made a one-handed drag move to beat Ryan Miller in the second round of the shootout. Although the Kings are likely to finish in last place in the Western Conference, they improved to 3-0-0 against the Ducks to win the season series against their rivals for the first time since 2012-13.
Kyle Clifford and Jeff Carter also scored for the Kings, who have won back-to-back games after losing 16 of their previous 18.
Cam Fowler and Rickard Rakell also scored for the Ducks, while Miller stopped 26 shots.
Jonathan Quick made 17 saves for Los Angeles.
Although the Ducks avoided official playoff elimination by earning a point, the 140th Freeway Faceoff carried little of the past editions’ stakes or tension. Southern California’s NHL teams occupy the bottom two spots in the Western Conference, and they will miss the playoffs in the same season for the first time since 2004.
Los Angeles and Anaheim have made a precipitous tandem decline after an exceptional seven-year stretch from 2011-18 in which the Kings won two Stanley Cup championships and made three Western Conference finals, while the Ducks won five straight Pacific Division titles and made two conference finals.
Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf and forward Nick Ritchie sat out with upper-body injuries.
Carter put the Kings ahead 2-1 late in the second period, scoring his 12th goal. Late in the least productive season of his 14-year NHL career, the 34-year-old Carter has scored goals in back-to-back games after playing 20 without a goal since Jan. 15.
Rakell tied it in the final second of the period when he popped the puck into the air and swatted it home on an exceptional play that began behind the Kings’ net. Rakell’s goal-scoring struggles were a major factor in Anaheim’s midseason collapse, but the former All-Star is finishing strong with 11 points in 12 games.
Rowney put the Ducks ahead in the opening moments of a Los Angeles power play on a pass from Derek Grant, who jumped on Drew Doughty’s turnover. Los Angeles evened it when Tyler Toffoli carried the puck in on Miller and Grundstrom tapped it in.
NOTES: LA hadn’t won back-to-back games since Feb. 5-7. … Ilya Kovalchuk and Dion Phaneuf were healthy scratches for the Kings. Kovalchuk is frustrated by his lack of consistent ice time, but the Russian star says he is determined to live up to the three-year contract he signed with the Kings last year. … Kings F Brendan Leipsic sat out with a lower-body injury that will keep him out for “a few days,” coach Willie Desjardins said Friday. … Ducks D Jacob Larsson missed his third straight game with a charley horse.
Ducks: At Canucks on Tuesday night.
Kings: At Flames on Monday night.