Carl Grundstrom scored his second NHL goal in his second career game and the Los Angeles Kings won for just the second time in 15 games, beating the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 Sunday night in a meeting of once-powerful rivals going through nightmare seasons.
Dustin Brown and Kyle Clifford also scored first-period goals, and Jonathan Quick made 18 saves in the 15th-place Kings’ second win in the Freeway Faceoff rivalry this season.
Jakob Silfverberg and Daniel Sprong scored for the 14th-place Ducks, who followed up an impressive performance against Montreal with a lifeless effort against their neighbors. Ryan Miller stopped 22 shots.
Honda Center wasn’t completely full when the puck dropped on the clubs’ 139th regular-season meeting, but Brown and Sprong traded goals 65 seconds apart in the opening minutes. Clifford then put Los Angeles ahead with his career-best eighth goal midway through the first period.
The Kings dominated the opening frame, holding Anaheim to two shots and taking a 3-1 lead when Grundstrom nimbly converted Adrian Kempe’s pass on a rush. Grundstrom, a 21-year-old Swede who came up from the AHL on Friday, joined Brian Boyle as the only rookies in Kings history to score a goal in each of their first two games.
After a scoreless second period, Silfverberg emerged from behind Quick’s net and trimmed the Kings’ lead on an unassisted goal with 7:44 left.
The Ducks couldn’t even it late, losing to the Kings for just the 10th time in their last 27 meetings. Los Angeles also won the first meeting of season back on Nov. 6, but these teams have since fallen into the bottom two spots in the Western Conference standings.
This meeting was the first of three Freeway Faceoffs in the next four weeks, putting some excitement in the Southland before both of its hockey teams likely miss the playoffs in the same season for the first time since 2004.
Los Angeles and Anaheim are coming off a brilliant seven-year stretch in which the Kings won two Stanley Cup championships and the Ducks won five consecutive Pacific Division titles while reaching two Western Conference finals. Southern California’s hockey renaissance abruptly ended last spring when both teams were swept in the first round of the playoffs, and this year has been miserable since the Kings flopped in the opening weeks and the Ducks fell into a midseason tailspin.
Both teams fired their coaches, and temporary bench bosses Willie Desjardins and Bob Murray have generated little response. Both teams are in rebuilding mode after years of success, although both have solid veteran foundations.
NOTES: Boyle scored in each of his first two games for Los Angeles in February 2008. … Silfverberg has points in a career-best five straight games. … Ducks C Ryan Kesler missed his second straight game with a hip injury. The 34-year-old veteran had major hip surgery before last season, and he has just eight points in 60 games this season. … Kings F Brendan Leipsic was scratched for the first time in 59 games. He hadn’t missed a game since Los Angeles claimed him off waivers from Vancouver on Dec. 3.
Kings: Host Predators on Thursday night.
Ducks: Host Predators on Tuesday night.