LOS ANGELES, Calif. – The Staples Center crowd threw garbage onto the ice in the final minutes when a key call went against the Los Angeles Kings.
The Anaheim Ducks dodged the debris and kept moving toward the post-season with a gritty win over their biggest rivals.
Patrick Maroon scored the go-ahead goal, Frederik Andersen made 37 saves, and the Ducks beat the Kings 2-1 on Saturday night for their third straight win in the Freeway Faceoff.
Andersen and the Pacific Division leaders barely held off the Kings, who had a 38-20 shots advantage. An apparent tying goal by Anze Kopitar was waved off with 6:23 left because of incidental contact with Andersen, prompting Kings fans to litter the ice.
The Ducks still showed remarkable resilience in another bruising chapter of this rivalry. Tim Jackman scored an early goal for the Ducks, who won back-to-back games at Colorado and Los Angeles after a four-game skid knocked them from their longtime perch atop the overall NHL standings.
Anaheim leads San Jose by two points in the division standings, and the Kings are well back in third place.
“It’s going to be tough for the Kings to catch us now,” Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said. “We’re up 15 points on them with 14 games to play. They were playing so well. We didn’t think they were going to lose another game all year. It was important for us to come in here and show we could measure up to them.”
Tyler Toffoli scored a power-play goal and Martin Jones stopped 18 shots for the Kings, whose eight-game winning streak was snapped Thursday by Toronto.
Los Angeles had won each of Anaheim’s last five visits to Staples Center since November 2011. The late-game controversy added to the lively rivalry in the Southern California clubs’ first meeting since their outdoor game at Dodger Stadium on Jan. 25.
Kopitar’s shot through traffic hit Andersen’s crossbar and apparently rattled in, but the officials immediately waved off any goal, later announcing Andersen had been hit.
“The puck was in, but there was some contact,” Andersen said. “I couldn’t really stop the puck. The ref did the right thing and made the right call.”
Replays showed the puck barely crossed the goal line while Marian Gaborik and Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg were next to Andersen. Los Angeles coach Darryl Sutter leaned onto the ice to disagree, and the crowd made its displeasure known.
“They called it that I touched the goalie before the puck went in,” Gaborik said. “But I don’t know, I haven’t seen the replay.”
Dozens of fans threw drinks, water bottles and concession items on the ice, prompting a short pause in play while employees with snow shovels removed the garbage.
“I don’t know why everybody is getting wound up about that,” Boudreau said. “They ran into our goalie. I thought it should have been a penalty, frankly. … I’ve seen a lot less things get called for penalties.”
Jackman put the Ducks ahead late in the first period with his fourth goal of the season, coming out of the corner to score on a slick pass from Mathieu Perreault.
The Kings evened it on a power-play goal midway through the second period when Jarret Stoll’s shot hit Andersen’s pads and went straight to Toffoli for just his second goal in 26 games since Dec. 19.
“I think we didn’t play the best that we could,” Toffoli said. “But I think we know now that the rest of the season here we have to play hard and play the right way.”
Los Angeles hadn’t scored against Anaheim in more than 148 consecutive minutes, going scoreless against their rivals since Kopitar’s first-period goal early in their last meeting at Honda Center, two days before Jonas Hiller’s shutout in Chavez Ravine.
Maroon put the Ducks back ahead on the game’s next shot just 1:09 later. Sprawling Kings defenceman Jake Muzzin deflected the puck past Jones for Maroon’s first goal since Jan. 30.
The Kings scratched captain Dustin Brown, who played sparingly against Toronto on Thursday after Sutter said Brown’s entire line looked tired. The U.S. Olympian missed practice Friday with what Sutter said was an illness.
Anaheim scratched U.S. Olympic defenceman Cam Fowler, who incurred a lower-body injury Friday in Calgary. The Ducks also played without 43-year-old forward Teemu Selanne, who has sat out the back end of several back-to-back sets this season.
NOTES: New Anaheim D Stephane Robidas took the pregame warmup, but didn’t make his Ducks debut. The veteran blue-liner, acquired March 4 from Dallas, is nearly recovered from a broken leg. … Jones started for the second time in three games after Jonathan Quick missed practice Friday with an illness. … Anaheim’s power play went 0 for 3, dropping to 2 for 42 in its last 13 games.