Teemu Selanne had two goals and an assist, Rob Niedermayer scored in his 800th NHL game, and the Ducks beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 on Saturday despite giving up two power-play goals in the final 2 minutes.
"Obviously we didn't put together the 60 minutes that we wanted to, but can't expect them to quit because they're a good club," Anaheim forward Ryan Getzlaf said. "They've got a lot of pride in that dressing room and they showed it."
Scott Thornton triggered the Kings' three-goal rally in the third period. Rob Blake and Dustin Brown both connected with the man advantage after delay-of-game penalties to Todd Marchant and Scott Niedermayer for clearing the puck over the glass.
"You never want to criticize a win, but we had a little letdown and there were some things we feel we maybe let things slip a little bit," Ducks defenceman Sean O'Donnell said. "We made a couple of mistakes on some clears, and they got two. I was on for both those goals, and I don't think we were mentally strong enough there."
Anaheim (20-2-6) is off to the best start in franchise history, leading the NHL with 46 points. After establishing club marks last season with 43 wins, 98 points, 254 goals and 87 power-play goals, the Ducks are on pace to eclipse those totals.
Travis Moen had a goal and an assist, helping Anaheim improve to 3-0 against the fourth-place Kings and open up a 24-point margin over them in the Pacific Division standings.
"Anytime you have a chance to distance yourself from a team in your division and your conference, it's good to come away with the two points because that's two points they can't get," Getzlaf said. "These are big games for us."
The teams face each other again Sunday at Anaheim. It's the fifth time the Kings and Ducks are playing back-to-back games since the rivalry was born in 1993-94, and just the second time on consecutive days.
"These are our cross-town rivals," Kings coach Marc Crawford said. "These guys are the kings of the castle right now, and they're on top of the heap. We have to play with a lot of emotion in order to beat them tomorrow, or anytime."
Jean-Sebastien Giguere made 38 saves - five during a two-man advantage the Kings had for a full 2 minutes in the second period with the Ducks hanging on to a 2-0 lead.
"It was a big turning point of the game," Giguere said of the Ducks' penalty-killing unit, which had allowed only three goals in 51 short-handed situations on the road. "You don't want to be overaggressive on a 5-on-3, but we made sure they had a hard time getting into the zone."
Moen opened the scoring at 4:11 of the first, converting a rebound after Dan Cloutier stopped Samuel Pahlsson's short backhander. Selanne scored on a one-timer from the left circle during a hooking penalty against Craig Conroy.
Anaheim extended its lead to 3-0 at 17:22 of the second when Moen's wrist shot from the top of the right circle deflected into the net off Rob Niedermayer's leg.
Selanne got his second of the game on another one-timer from the left circle on a setup by Chris Pronger. Selanne, who led the league in November with 10 goals and 23 points, has recorded nine of his 13 goals in the last eight games.
"I don't think I've tried to change anything. I just try to make the right decision at the right time, when it's time to shoot or pass," Selanne said. "When you play with great players, you get great passes."
Cloutier was benched during each of his previous two starts, after giving up five goals on 12 shots at San Jose on Nov. 22 and three goals on five shots at Phoenix on Thursday. Crawford didn't have much choice but to start him against Anaheim because Mathieu Garon was sidelined with a groin injury.
Notes: The Ducks have played 19 regular-season games at Staples Center since the arena opened in October 1999. This was the fourth time it wasn't a sellout. ... The Ducks-Kings matchup was part of Saturday's all-Southern California "hat trick." The Lakers played the Clippers in the nightcap of the Staples Center doubleheader, and UCLA hosted USC at the Rose Bowl. ... The Kings are 0-12 when trailing after two periods.