Ducks hold on to hope

SPORTS NETWORK

, Last Updated: 12:29 PM ET

If the playoffs were to start today, Anaheim would be the only Pacific Division team going home early. The Ducks will try to alter the standings tonight as they visit the Los Angeles Kings and the Staples Center.

The Sharks lead the Pacific Division with 90 points and sit third in the Western Conference. The Coyotes, Kings and Stars hold the next three spots in the standings, though Dallas is tied with Chicago and one point back of the fifth-place Kings.

That leaves the Ducks on the outside, but they are just two points behind the eighth-place idle Flames and have played three fewer games. Anaheim has kept the pressure on by winning three of its last four and recording points in seven of the past nine (6-2-1).

The Ducks are coming off a 2-1 victory on Wednesday over the Blues, with Ray Emery making 30 saves in his first start since Feb. 1 of last year with the Flyers due to hip surgery. He had made his Anaheim debut last Sunday in relief of Dan Ellis.

"I have a checklist that I run through," Emery said. "I have been for awhile at this level. I know how to prepare. I definitely had butterflies going and was excited to get in there. I don't control when I play, who I play against or what kind of game. When you get the opportunity, you want to make the most of it."

It is unknown if Emery or Ellis will start tonight as the duo continues to fill-in for No. 1 Jonas Hiller, who remains out with vertigo. Emery has never started against the Kings, while Ellis is 5-1-0 with a 2.63 goals-against average versus them.

Jason Blake supported Emery on Wednesday with a pair of goals for the Ducks, who have won seven of their past nine on the road.

Anaheim will try to take advantage of a Los Angeles club that looked flat at home on Thursday following a perfect 4-0 road trip. The Kings finished a 4-0 setback to the Blues in the opener of a five-game homestand by notching a season-low 17 shots. They were getting outshot 24-3 at one point in the second period.

"There's nothing to explain. We had nothing going on, there was no energy, we were totally out-played," said Kings head coach Terry Murray. "We had six shots after two periods. We're coming off an incredible road trip, the tank is empty. There's nothing to talk about."

Jonathan Quick gave up four goals on 39 shots for Los Angeles, which is four points back of fourth-place Phoenix and five behind the Sharks.

The Kings also lost Kyle Clifford to an upper-body injury following a first- period fight on Thursday and he did not practice on Friday.

Quick is 6-2-1 with a 2.66 GAA in his career versus the Ducks, while backup Jonathan Bernier, who has won three of his last four starts, has bested Anaheim in both of his career starts in this series by halting 44-of-46 total shots faced.

The Kings have taken two straight over the Ducks after losing the first meeting this season and have won eight of the last 11 overall. Anaheim has dropped four of five and six of its last nine at the Staples Center.


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