LOS ANGELES—The Freeway Face-off has become one of the most heated rivalries in all of hockey. This comes on account that the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks have been two of the elite teams in the NHL for quite some time now.
The two teams went into Thursday night’s bout with a lot on the line, sole possession of the division with the season coming to an end. Both the Ducks and Kings sat even with 99-points, the Ducks having one game in hand.
The Kings took advantage of home ice against the Ducks for the first time all season and came out with a 2-1 victory in front of a sold-out crowd at the Staples Center. It was the Kings second regulation win against the Ducks in the teams past 15 regular season meetings.
The win gives Los Angeles a two-point lead with only one regular season game remaining. Anaheim has two games remaining thanks to a rescheduled game with the Washington Capitals from earlier in the season.
Kings Defenseman Drew Doughty told Kings.com, “They’re a really good team who have kind of owned us so far this year throughout the regular season. So we were really determined tonight, and it was pretty important game.”
With a win over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday, the Kings will clinch their first division title since 1991, and just the second in franchise history.
At the end of period one, the Ducks led 1-0 thanks to a goal from center man Ryan Kessler.
Merely 28 seconds into the second period, Los Angeles erased the deficit when a turnover in the Anaheim zone led to a backhanded goal from Kings forward Milan Lucic.
Just one and a half minutes later Kris Versteeg tipped a shot over Ducks goalie John Gibson that hit the cross bar and then found the stick of Versteeg again before finishing in the back of the net to give the Kings a 2-1 lead that they would never relinquish.
Goalie Jonathan Quick earned his 40th victory of the season, breaking his previous record of 39 for most wins in franchise history.
The Kings finish the regular season on Saturday, April 9 against the Winnipeg Jets at Staples Center. The puck is set to drop at 7:00 p.m.