Series (Game 4 of 6)

Los Angeles leads 4-1

Game 1: Wednesday, January 7th
Game 2: Saturday, January 24th
Game 3: Wednesday, January 28th
Game 4: Saturday, February 28th
Game 5: Sunday, February 29th
Game 6: Sunday, March 14th

Ducks 1

(22-26-8, 61 pts)

Kings 2

(25-17-7, 72 pts)

4:00 PM ET, February 28, 2004

STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, California

1 2 3 T
ANA 0 0 11
LA 1 0 12

C. Huet (Kings - G): Saves: 29, Save Pct.: .967

D. Armstrong (Kings - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 2

L. Robitaille (Kings - LW): Goals: 1, Assists: 1

L.A.-Anaheim will meet again Sunday

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- The Los Angeles Kings never have faced the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the postseason, partly because one of the Southern California rivals always seems to knock the other one out of playoff contention.

That pattern seems to be repeating itself. Luc Robitaille had a goal and an assist and Derek Armstrong had two assists to lead the Kings to a 2-1 victory Saturday over the defending Western Conference champions -- who appear likely to miss the playoffs.

The Kings and Ducks will play again Sunday at Anaheim.

"I don't know if we put them away; I wouldn't say that," Robitaille said. "I expect their best game [Sunday], but we can't afford to lose any games or give up any points because it's too tight a race."

The Kings and Ducks never have qualified for the playoffs in the same season. The last time neither made it was 1996.

"This was just kind of a mirror image of what it would be like if the Kings and Ducks were ever to play each other in a playoff series," Los Angeles coach Andy Murray said. "It would be exciting and great for hockey because these games have playoff-type intensity. And now that we're getting down to the end of the season, the intensity level is very, very high."

Rookie defenseman Tomas Zizka also scored and Cristobal Huet made 29 saves for the Kings, 26-21-11 against the Ducks and 3-0-1 in their last four meetings.

Los Angeles began the day tied with Calgary for seventh in the conference but had the fewest wins of any team currently occupying a playoff spot. The Ducks, 11th in the West after coming within one victory of winning the Stanley Cup last June, trail the Kings by 11 points.

"We've got the standings posted in our dressing room. We're not stupid. We can see we needed these two," Mighty Ducks rookie Joffrey Lupul said. "It's still not done by any means. We've got to win [Sunday] and put something together. We're just making it tougher and tougher on ourselves, especially when this is one of the teams we're chasing. But the mood in here can't stay down for long because we're going at it again in less than 24 hours."

With a standing-room-only crowd of 18,207 on hand, both teams came out hitting from the start. Los Angeles rookie Kip Brennan knocked the helmet off Garrett Burnett's head as the two enforcers fought at 3:14 of the first period and got in at least a half-dozen good shots each. For the most part, though, the teams stuck to hockey with so much at stake and time slipping away.

"There was obviously desperation there," Anaheim captain Steve Rucchin said. "We do need to play desperate hockey for an entire game. We definitely need to do that [Sunday]. We need to think attack mode right from the start, but today we were sitting back and not going at them."

The Kings broke through at 14:46 of the first period. Robitaille outraced Samuel Pahlsson to a loose puck behind the Anaheim net and took a short shot that hit the outside mesh before Zizka poked in his second goal of the season -- off goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere's leg.

Robitaille made it 2-0 at 8:21 of the second with his 17th goal, snapping a slap shot over Giguere's glove from the slot after Armstrong fed him from behind the net. Lupul scored his 12th goal less than 1½ minutes later on a wrist shot from the left circle.

Game notes

Giguere made 35 saves. ... The Kings will play on Feb. 29 for the fifth time in their 37-year history; they went 2-1-1 in the previous four. ... The Ducks are playing consecutive games against the Kings for the third time. The Kings swept both games the other two times. ... Los Angeles placed D Jason Holland on the injured list, retroactive to Feb. 26, because of a bruised thigh. ... D Denis Grebeshkov, the Kings' first-round draft pick in 2002, was promoted from Manchester of the AHL and made his NHL debut.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press