ANAHEIM, Calif. – In a matchup of rookie goalies, the Kings’ Erik Ersberg made the most saves. The Ducks’ Jonas Hiller made the final, clinching stop.
Mathieu Schneider and Teemu Selanne scored for Anaheim during the shootout and the defending Stanley Cup champions beat the Kings 2-1 Wednesday night to earn a playoff berth.
Hiller, filling in for the ailing Jean-Sebastien Giguere, finished the tiebreaker at the end of six rounds when he blocked Brian Willsie’s shot. Dustin Brown had the only shootout goal for the Kings.
“It was a tough game,” Hiller said. “Everybody on our team did pretty well tonight. We got the two points and it’s great to be in the playoffs.”
The Ducks needed only one point to lock up a spot in the post-season for the third consecutive season, and they earned that point with the tie at the end of regulation.
The 26-year-old Hiller, from Switzerland, and Ersberg, also 26 and a native of Sweden, turned in outstanding performances. Hiller ended with 31 saves, and Ersberg had 39.
“Both goalies played tremendous tonight,” Schneider said. “Jonas made some unbelievable saves there at the end, and their goalie made great saves throughout the game to keep them in it.
“He (Ersberg) was on tonight, even in the shootout. For the most part, he seemed unbeatable.”
Ersberg said it seemed to turn into a goalie matchup and, “It was a good game for both teams. It’s tough to lose one of these.”
Hiller kept the game going with a shootout-type save as time was running out in regulation.
Los Angeles’ Alexander Frolov stole the puck from Schneider in the Kings’ zone and skated off on a breakaway. He bore down on Hiller, feinted to his left then tried to slide the puck behind the goalie on the other side. Hiller, who had flopped onto his stomach, blocked the shot with his left skate with 17 seconds on the clock.
“When a breakaway comes, it doesn’t matter if it comes in the first minute or the last minute,” he said. “You just try to focus on doing what you always try to do – stop the puck. I was happy that I did.”
Both goalies continued to stop shots in the shootout, and players on each side also purely missed a couple.
Schneider knew his number was going to be called.
“I had a feeling my time had come because we were getting down the bench,” he said, laughing.
Patrick O’Sullivan scored for Los Angeles in the first period, and Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan tied it in the second, both on power plays.
The Ducks made the playoffs for the sixth time since they came into the league as an expansion franchise in 1993. They’ve made it to the Cup finals twice, last year when they won it and in 2003 when they lost to New Jersey in seven games.
Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle said that, although the Ducks are in the playoffs, they have to keep playing hard.
“Now we’re in a position to improve for home-ice advantage,” he said. “We just want to get our game to the level where we feel we can be competitive against the best teams.”
The Ducks extended their franchise-record home winning streak to 10 straight, the longest such streak in the league this season.
Notes: The Kings, already eliminated from the post-season, haven’t made the playoffs since 2003. … Giguere, sidelined by back spasms, missed his third consecutive game. The Ducks also were without C Ryan Getzlaf (shoulder) and D Chris Pronger, serving the fifth game of an eight-game suspension. RW Corey Perry, sidelined by a lacerated right quad tendon, is expected to be out for another three weeks or so.