LOS ANGELES -- The last regular-season meeting between the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks on Saturday might not be the last time these two teams see each other this year.
It might have been a preview of an intriguing playoff matchup between the two Southern California rivals later this spring.
If so, the Kings' 2-1 victory should be looked on with a mixture of appreciation and anticipation. The Kings won their fifth straight against the Ducks at Staples Center on Mike Richards' second-period power play goal and picked up two key points to create more cushion between themselves and the fifth-place San Jose Sharks.
"It's playoff hockey right now," Kings center Trevor Lewis said. "It's that time of year."
Drew Doughty got it started for the Kings with a first-period goal 10 minutes into the game on assists from Trevor Lewis and Jarret Stoll to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.
That advantage stood until midway through the second period when Ryan Getzlaf scored for the short-handed Ducks to make it 1-1.
On the play, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made a tactical error by coming out of the goal to re-direct the puck, thinking he had plenty of time to do so. But he underestimated how fast Getzlaf was streaking down the ice.
Getzlaf got to the puck just before Quick, then maneuvered right to get behind the Kings goalie before firing the puck into the open net to tie the score.
The Ducks seemingly added another goal a short while later when Emerson Etem's shot ricocheted off the crossbar then bounced off Bobby Ryan's into the net.
But the goal was overturned when referees ruled a kicking motion by Ryan.
Just like that the Ducks lost the lead and momentum.
The Kings took advantage later in the period when Richards scored his 11th goal of the season off assists by Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar to make it 2-1 with 58 seconds left before intermission, a lead that held up through a scoreless third period.
Now it's two days off for the Kings followed by a date against San Jose.
NOTES: Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau was not pleased with his team's effort in 4-1 loss to Colorado Wednesday -- which denied the Ducks a chance to clinch a playoff spot -- and the result was two practices on Thursday and Friday on back-to-back days off. Boudreau indicated it would have been a waste of a learning experience to let the Ducks' lackluster performance slide, and used the practices to show he wasn't about to let them off the hook without paying a consequence. ... Incidentally, the Ducks' ticket to the playoffs was punched Friday without even lacing their skates. ... Kings defenseman Matt Greene, out since the first game of the year after back surgery, has resumed on-ice work but has not been cleared for a full-contact practice. Kings coach Darryl Sutter it might be difficult for Greene to come back for the playoffs if he doesn't first come back for multiple regular-season games. "Quite honestly, if he's not ready to play three or four games and if we made the playoffs, I'd have trouble putting him in, for sure," Sutter said. "He's only played a few minutes all year. It's not about what you did, it's about what you're doing."