LOS ANGELES – Mired in last place in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Kings needed something to feel good about heading into the all-star break.
Beating up on the rival Anaheim Ducks did the trick. Derek Armstrong had a goal and an assist to help Los Angeles to a 3-1 win on Thursday night, ending its four-game losing streak to the Ducks.
“We’re winning as a team, which is most important,” he said. “We played well with a lead. We’re buying into the system and our goalie has been great. When you play with a structure, you have a chance to win every night.”
The defending Stanley Cup champion Ducks head into the four-day break with victories in six of their past nine games. The Kings have won five of their past seven.
“Even though we’re in last place, our guys still need a break,” Kings coach Marc Crawford said, “especially from hearing the voices of the coaches, including me.”
All-star Anze Kopitar gave Los Angeles a 1-0 lead on a power-play goal at 16:16 of the first period. During a scrum in front of the net, the puck hit an Anaheim defender and hopped over Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s shoulder for Kopitar’s 19th goal.
The Ducks thought they had tied the game on Ryan Carter’s goal, but the video goal judge ruled time expired before the puck entered the net.
“We really didn’t play smart and we didn’t really deserve for those things to turn our way,” Ducks’ all-star Scott Niedermayer said. “We didn’t earn them and that’s why we didn’t get them. The last three games we’ve been real inconsistent.”
Anaheim enforcer George Parros and Los Angeles counterpart Raitis Ivanans received five-minute fighting penalties late in the first, but neither team scored.
The Ducks’ top line of Ryan Getzlaf, Todd Bertuzzi and Corey Perry was held scoreless on a combined 10 shots, and they were 0-for-5 on the power play.
“To shut them down was very gratifying and to shut down Anaheim’s power play was pretty exciting,” Crawford said.
Armstrong and Alexander Frolov scored goals in the second period, chasing Giguere, who was replaced by rookie Jonas Hiller. He stopped all 13 shots he faced in a 30-minute span.
Giguere had won five of his past seven starts. He stopped 15 shots in 29 minutes, 37 seconds.
“We haven’t played as good as we could the last three games and at this time of the year that’s unacceptable,” Giguere said. “That could mean not the right coverage or it can mean not making the key save at the right time or not scoring any goals. So altogether, it just wasn’t a strong game on our part. We need to be a little bit more desperate on defence.”
Jason LaBarbera stopped 31 shots for the Kings, losing the shutout when Rob Niedermayer scored with three minutes remaining.
“It’s obviously an emotional game against the Ducks,” LaBarbera said. “We can enjoy ourselves the next couple of days knowing we did what we had to do.”
Armstrong’s shot slipped under Giguere’s left pad at 4:21 on a pass by Ted Purcell, who earned his first NHL point.
Frolov scored his 11th goal when Armstrong’s pass found him in front of the net at 9:53.
Ducks centre Todd Marchant sustained a contusion on his left foot from blocking teammate Mathieu Schneider’s slap shot with about six minutes left.
“I don’t get much time on the power play, so when you get your number called you want to do whatever you can,” Marchant said. “Corey made a play across and I just tried to get in front of the net. Unfortunately, he hit me or I didn’t get out of the way. I just think it’ll end up just being sore for a couple of days.”
Anaheim’s Travis Moen bruised his ribs when he was checked against the boards by Brad Stuart with 5 1/2 minutes left.
The Kings had a two-man advantage in the third when Parros went off for interference and the Ducks’ bench received a two-minute minor for unsportsmanlike conduct. Rob Blake’s shot hit the crossbar.
Notes: The Ducks fell to 9-10-1 in back-to-back games this season. … The announced crowd of 18,118 was the Kings’ second consecutive sellout and ninth of the season. … The Kings depart on a season-high, eight-game road trip after the all-star break, beginning Tuesday in Philadelphia. … “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” broke out on the stadium organ when former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tom Lasorda dropped the ceremonial puck.