ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Two days before Anaheim visits the Los Angeles Kings for their high-profile showcase under the stars, the Ducks showed they're willing to get just as gritty as their rivals to grind out a win.
Patrick Maroon scored the tiebreaking goal on a wraparound late in the second period, and the Ducks beat the Kings 2-1 on Thursday night in the prelude to the clubs' landmark outdoor game this weekend.
Frederik Andersen made 30 saves and Dustin Penner scored a power-play goal in the 20th victory in 23 games for the NHL-leading Ducks, who dialed down their high-octane offensive game and matched the Kings' usual grit in a hard-hitting, bad-tempered meeting.
Offense was scarce when the Southern California clubs warmed up for their visit to Dodger Stadium on Saturday, and the high-scoring Ducks didn't mind at all.
"We can play any style," Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy said. "We can play with speed teams because we have that speed and skill, and we can match up with the big, physical teams like L.A. I don't think we beat them at their own game. I think we imposed the kind of game we wanted in the second and third."
After a scoreless third period, Anaheim improved to 21-1-2 at Honda Center two days after its first home regulation loss. The Ducks are rolling into the first warm-weather outdoor game in NHL history with a five-point lead over Chicago in the overall standings and a 17-point margin over third-place Los Angeles in the Pacific Division.
A few minor skirmishes in the third period suggested tempers will run high in the rematch — exactly the NHL's intention in scheduling back-to-back meetings. The Kings and Ducks will hold separate workouts Friday on the new rink in the middle of the historic baseball park.
"There's nothing we see out of them that we don't already know," Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said. "They're a good, strong team that plays physical hockey ... but we can play that, too."
Anze Kopitar scored early in the first period and Jonathan Quick stopped 19 shots for the Kings, who have lost four straight. Los Angeles hasn't won since officials in Detroit blew the call on an obviously illegal tying goal by Niklas Kronwall in an eventual shootout loss to the Red Wings last Saturday.