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Ducks delay Kings from clinching playoff spot with win

Ducks left wing Alex Killorn scores past Kings center Akil Thomas during the third period.
(William Liang / Associated Press)
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Alex Killorn and Trevor Zegras scored in the third period, and the Ducks prevented the Kings from securing a playoff spot with a 3-1 win on Tuesday night.

Frank Vatrano also scored, Lukas Dostal made 36 saves, and the Ducks beat their Freeway Faceoff foes for the first time in three meetings. The season series concludes in Los Angeles on Saturday.

“Obviously, for them, they want to clinch, and it’s a big moment for them, but I thought our team played great against a really good team,” Killorn said.

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Akil Thomas scored and Cam Talbot made 24 saves for the Kings, who had won three straight games.

The Kings will have to wait to confirm a third straight playoff appearance, and the defeat also put the chance to avenge two straight first-round losses to Edmonton at risk. Vegas is one point behind the Kings for third place in the Pacific Division with a game in hand.

“It seems like the Kings-Anaheim games are always close, regardless of where each team is in the standings,” Kings center Blake Lizotte said. “Clinching a playoff spot is always difficult, especially when it comes down to the last four or five games of the year, but now we have to get it done next game.”

Killorn and Ducks coach Greg Cronin said delaying the Kings’ playoff qualification wasn’t a priority, but rookie center Leo Carlsson was well aware of the stakes coming in.

“It’s just nice to destroy their hopes a little bit,” Carlsson said.

The Ducks went in front 2-1 at 1:51 of the third period when Killorn beat Talbot on a wrist shot from the high slot shortly after a power play expired.

Killorn looked to have put the Ducks ahead during the man advantage, but the Kings successfully challenged he was offside. It didn’t matter as he ended up tallying his 18th goal 16 seconds later.

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“It’s hard to score goals in this league so whenever they get taken away, it’s pretty tough, so I was happy that I can get it back quickly,” Killorn said.

Zegras made it 3-1 at 5:50, taking the puck from Jordan Spence in the neutral zone and scoring off the rush on a wrist shot from the left circle, marking just the fifth goal of a disappointing season for Zegras and the Ducks.

“There’s a lot of guys playing for different things,” Killorn said. “I don’t know what the team”s going to look like next year. I’m sure there’s guys that want to be here next year. For certain guys, they want to get momentum and some chemistry headed into next year.”

The rivals traded goals in the first period. Thomas got his second career goal after Trevor Lewis got in on net, forcing Dostal out of position before throwing the puck back into the paint for the 24-year-old rookie to score.

Vatrano tied it up with his 33rd goal of the season, capitalizing on a favorable rebound of Radko Gudas’ shot from the right point and putting it around Talbot. It was Vatrano’s third goal in the last two games.

“Our first 10, 12 minutes were great, playing Kings hockey, and we kind of drifted away from that,” Lizotte said. “A few guys were on their own page more than we’d like. And you have to give them credit too. They have some skilled players and took advantage of our mistakes.”

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Up next

Kings host the Calgary Flames on Thursday night.

Ducks host the Flames on Friday night.

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