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.
It was Doughty's sixth point over the last six games, including his fourth goal.
"Yeah I feel good and for a little bit there I got taken off the first (power play) unit I think (coach) Darryl (Sutter) is kind of trying to teach me a little lesson that it just doesn't come, you got to do something to have the privilege to be on the power play unit ," Doughty said, "So obviously I was frustrated at the time that I wasn't on it so when he finally gave me my chance I think I made a pretty good opportunity of it and that's where you get your points as a defenseman on a power play."
Added Lewis: "I think all year he's been playing good but just because he wasn't scoring -- he obviously wants to score but I think his confidence is good right now."
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 Ryan had scored by using a kicking motion.
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.
"They are a good hockey team. There's a reason they got back to where they are in the standings," Getzlaf said. "And the way they have played the second half of the year. In the first period we have to come out a little bit harder. To have one shot after the first period is unacceptable against a team like this."
Surviving the second period was the key.
"I think we can always be better and we needed to clean some things up and I think we did a good job," Lewis said. "After that we went through a little lull, coming back and being strong."
Now it's two days off for the Kings followed by a date against San Jose.
"I liked our team. We just finished seven of 11 on the road, and the White House, and managed to still win our home games while we were doing it," Sutter said. "Without having one day off anywhere there, with all that travelling, I think all of our guys did a good job."
Meanwhile, the Ducks -- who expect to be the No. 2 seed in the West -- turn their attention to chasing down the Western Conference-leading Chicago Blackhawks.
"We played pretty well. We held them to two shots in the second period and one went it. It's one of those things," Getzlaf said. "Nothing against (goalie) Viktor (Fasth), it wasn't his fault. It went in the net. When you could hold a team like that to two shots in a period you are doing something right.
"It's a matter of putting a full 60 minutes together and going out there and doing it. It's a bounce here or there. We had one opportunity on the power play at the end and we didn't take advantage of it. They took advantage of theirs."
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 while they were idle. ... Kings defenseman Matt Greene, sidelined 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. Sutter said 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."