Saturday, April 9, 2011
Ducks clinch fourth spot in West
By Dan Arritt
LOS ANGELES — The Kings entered the final weekend of the regular season in control of their destiny. With two wins against the Ducks, they could claim home-ice advantage for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The Ducks had other thoughts, pulling the ice from under Los Angeles by winning for the second consecutive night, 3-1.
Coupled with Nashville’s loss to St. Louis earlier Saturday and San Jose’s victory over Phoenix about 10 minutes prior, the Ducks clinched fourth place in the Western Conference standings, giving them home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, beginning Wednesday or Thursday at Honda Center.
The Kings, meanwhile, can finish no higher than seventh. That’s if the Detroit Red Wings can beat Chicago on Sunday morning. In that event, the Kings would open the playoffs in San Jose. If the Blackhawks win, the Kings would drop into eighth and open the playoffs at top-seeded Vancouver for the second consecutive postseason.
With the struggles the Kings are having offensively, scoring 12 goals in the last seven games, that could result in a quick series.
The Ducks meanwhile got a strong performance from its most unsteady area, in goal. Dan Ellis starting in place of the sidelined Jonas Hiller (vertigo) and Ray Emery (lower body), stopped 40 shots.
The final minutes were brawl-filled as Sheldon Brookbank bloodied the face of Kings rookie Kyle Clifford and 40-year-old Ducks forward Teemu Selanne even got into the act, throwing blows with Brad Richardson for one of the few times in his career.