LOS ANGELES (AP)Cam Fowler scored with 1:01 remaining and the Anaheim Ducks ended a five-game losing streak by beating the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on Wednesday night.
Sam Carrick and Sam Steel also scored and John Gibson made 28 saves for the Ducks.
Gabriel Vilardi and Adrian Kempe had a goal for the Kings, who have lost three of four. Cal Petersen made 19 saves.
Fowler faked out Andreas Athanasiou to score on a wrist shot at 18:59 of the third period to cap a rally after falling behind 2-0 in the second.
”We compete for each other, we work for each other,” Fowler said. ”You go down a couple goals in the situation that we’re in, it would be easy to feel sorry for ourselves, but we have a young group, guys that are trying to get experience in this league. And it’s up to us guys that have been around to show them what’s it’s like to continue to fight and work, and that’s what we did tonight so I’m proud of our guys.”
The Ducks scored twice in a 3:42 span late in the second to tie the score. Carrick beat Petersen between his legs to get Anaheim on the board at 12:53, and Steel made it 2-all at 16:35 after being set up by Rickard Rakell’s clever pass from behind the net.
The loss left the Kings eight points behind St. Louis for the final playoff spot in the West Division despite getting two goals on special teams.
”Wasn’t a great game, at least from our perspective,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said. ”We didn’t play the way that we wanted to play, and when you’re not sharp and you’re not executing properly it’s gonna be one ugly game, and it was for us.”
After seeing their power play regress over the past month, it was that unit that gave the Kings a 1-0 lead 4:50 into the second period. Vilardi cleaned up Adrian Kempe’s rebound for his third goal with the man-advantage.
Los Angeles had been in a 3-for-46 slump on the power play over its previous 16 games.
It was also a much-needed goal for Vilardi, who hadn’t scored since March 3 against Arizona. The 2017 first-round pick had seen his playing time decrease over the second half of the season and even been scratched for two games.
The Kings made it 2-0 after Gibson came out of his crease to play the puck at the same time as Fowler. That left Kempe with an easy flick into an open net at 11:15 of the middle period.
But coach Dallas Eakins credited that sequence for sparking the Ducks’ comeback.
”I know Gibby was doing his best to clear it to the corner and Cam was doing his best to get there fast, and when it’s rushed and at that high a speed things like that can happen,” Eakins said. ”But, like I said, there was no heads dropped on the bench. There was no questioning each other. It was almost a bit of a rallying point for our guys.”
Anaheim was officially eliminated from postseason contention when St. Louis defeated Minnesota 4-3 earlier on Wednesday. It is the third time in franchise history the Ducks have not made the playoffs in three straight seasons, along with their first three seasons in the league in 1993-1996 and again in 1999-2002.
Kings center Quinton Byfield, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2020 draft, made his NHL debut. He had four shots and won 8 of 12 face-offs in 17:21, but couldn’t convert two shots from close range against Gibson in the third period.
”Overall, definitely a passing grade for him,” McLellan said. ”He was probably one of our better players.We had some guys that we certainly count on night in and night out that didn’t have very good nights tonight so it’s something they need to fix.”
LESS HERALDED DEBUT
Ducks defenseman Simon Benoit was a plus-1 in 15:46 in his first NHL game. The undrafted Benoit earned an American Hockey League contract after participating in development camp with Anaheim in 2018 before working his way up to the big club.
”That’s a real special one for me,” Eakins said. ”I’m so proud of this kid. . Benny’s energy comes from just that he gives you everything he has. Every game, every practice, every day in the weight room.”
The Ducks and Kings will play again in Anaheim on Friday.
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