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Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Need to know: Ducks' loss no big deal

By Scott Burnside

We all like to point to statement games without acknowledging that those games and their importance last exactly the amount of time it takes to play the game. So you can rest assured that, although disappointed at being beaten 5-2 at Staples Center on Monday night by the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, the Anaheim Ducks won’t be hanging their heads for long. The Ducks, who were gunning for a franchise-record seventh straight victory, remain the Pacific Division leaders, holding a seven-point lead over the Kings and the Dallas Stars. They are 7-2-1 on the road, an impressive mark for a team that a year ago was a pedestrian 13-18-10 away from the Honda Center.

And the loss certainly doesn’t take the bloom off the rose that has been the play of unheralded Swedish netminder Viktor Fasth, who suffered his first loss of the season (he is 8-1-0). Fasth might have liked to have back Dustin Brown’s long snap shot that tied the score at 2-2 late in the second period, but it's really hard to fault him on the other three goals (Jeff Carter scored an empty-netter).

But if we accept that one loss does not mean the Ducks are any less real, Monday’s clash illustrated that the Kings are back for real. And that should make everyone in the Western Conference very, very nervous. Los Angeles won its fourth in a row in a manner that was reminiscent of almost any of its 16 playoff wins last spring. The Kings fell behind 1-0 and 2-1 but scored three in the third to take control of the game. They got goals from five players, including two from the blue line with Slava Voynov and Jake Muzzin, on the power play, scoring.

The Kings have won six of their past seven and outscored opponents 23-10. The team’s best players are finally rounding into form, with Brown scoring in three straight games and Carter having scored in four straight and netted six goals in his past seven games. Even oft-criticized Dustin Penner got into the act, scoring his first goal since his overtime winner in Game 5 of the 2012 Western Conference finals. This is a bit apropos, given that the Kings look as if they’re finally getting that playoff feel once again.