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Feb 23, 2024 10:18 pm

Kings face Ducks, attempt to pad wild-card lead

Kevin Fiala

The Anaheim Ducks likely will miss the playoffs for a sixth straight season, but there are reasons to be optimistic about the future.

One combination that is beginning to thrive for the Ducks, heading into their Saturday night road matchup against the Los Angeles Kings, is center Mason McTavish and right winger Troy Terry.

They combined for three goals and two assists while playing on a line with veteran Frank Vatrano on Wednesday night in a 7-4 loss to the visiting Columbus Blue Jackets.

It was the second straight three-point game for Terry, who at 26 is just hitting his prime. He has seven multi-point games in his past 12 outings after producing just six in the first 41 games.

“Still trying to dial in some of the stuff,” he said. “Just making the right decisions at certain times, but I feel like I’m back to making plays consistently.”

McTavish has two goals and three assists in the past two games, taking advantage of Terry’s deft puck-handling skills to find open areas of the ice for one-timers, tips and redirections.

“Mason respects the fact that Troy’s really good with the puck,” Ducks coach Greg Cronin said. “When you have a guy like Troy that can navigate his way through the ice and he can find shooting lanes, it’s a good spot to be in, and then the fact that he can shoot it if the lane’s closed for Troy.”

Ducks rookie defenseman Pavel Mintyukov had a season-high three assists against Columbus. He ranks second among NHL rookie defensemen in assists (20) and is third in points (23).

“He came on (Thursday) night,” Cronin said. “I thought he was good, he was up in the play and I think his three assists reflect that.”

The Kings will be trying to rebound after losing 4-1 to the visiting Nashville Predators on Thursday night.

Los Angeles, which had won six of its previous seven games, leads the Predators and St. Louis Blues by four points for the first Western Conference wild-card spot.

“We know what position we’re at, we know we have to win, we know they’re right behind us and chasing us,” Kings forward Kevin Fiala said. “We knew all of that. I don’t know why we played like we did (against Nashville).”

The Kings lost defenseman Mikey Anderson to an undisclosed injury early in the third period against the Predators.

Los Angeles interim coach Jim Hiller did not have an update on Anderson after the game, and the team did not practice on Friday.

The Kings lost left winger Viktor Arvidsson to a lower-body injury 17 seconds into his first shift on Tuesday in a 5-1 win against the visiting Blue Jackets.

Arvidsson, who missed the first 50 games this season because of back surgery, was placed on injured reserve on Thursday and is considered week-to-week.

The Ducks also play a physical style, something that seemed to bother the Kings against Nashville.

“Your execution has to be even a little bit better when you’re playing a team that checks you that well,” Hiller said.

–Field Level Media

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