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Ducks win 5th straight Pacific title, beating LA 4-3 in OT

Updated at: 04/12/2017 10:15 PM
By GREG BEACHAM

Shea Theodore
Shea Theodore
Photo: AP

(AP) ANAHEIM, Calif. - ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Anaheim Ducks still hadn't clinched their division or identified their first-round playoff opponent with 10 minutes left in the final period of their 82nd regular-season game.

With one last surge in a stretch run full of outstanding play, the Ducks got the tying goal they needed and the rivalry win they really wanted.

And they're headed into the postseason on the NHL's biggest roll.

Nate Thompson scored his first goal of the season to tie it with 8:26 to play and Shea Theodore won it in overtime, helping the Anaheim Ducks clinch their fifth consecutive Pacific Division title with a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night.

Theodore scored 53 seconds in to end the Freeway Faceoff, but the Ducks (46-23-13) had already locked up a first-round playoff date with the Calgary Flames by earning a point in their 14th consecutive game (11-0-3), the league's longest current streak.

"We've won a few here, and we don't get too excited anymore," forward Andrew Cogliano said. "We've come back a long way. We deserve where we are. We wanted to win to finish the season on the right note."

The Ducks are the first NHL team to win five straight division titles since the Vancouver Canucks claimed the last five Northwest Division crowns from 2009-13. Anaheim is just the seventh team to win at least five straight in NHL history — not that anybody in the Ducks' dressing room cares after last season's first-round flop against Nashville.

"You don't want to focus on (division) titles," coach Randy Carlyle said. "It's always nice to win your division, but there's a bigger picture and a bigger prize, so sometimes those things get set by the wayside."

Patrick Eaves and Antoine Vermette also scored and Jonathan Bernier stopped 15 shots as the Ducks held off Edmonton for the top spot in the Pacific.

"We grew as a group as we went along, and that was a good sign," said captain Ryan Getzlaf, who had three assists. "We built toward this."

The Kings will miss the playoffs for the second time in three years, and they couldn't finish off another late-season victory after beating Chicago on Saturday.

After Clifford evened it with a tipped shot late in second period, Dustin Brown redirected a shot by Jarome Iginla through a screen to beat Bernier with 12:05 to play. But the Ducks pressed for an equalizer, and Thompson tipped a shot by Brandon Montour just enough to send it trickling underneath Jonathan Quick.

"We hung in there," coach Darryl Sutter said. "I've said that lots. We didn't score enough goals this year. We didn't have enough goal-scorers in our lineup."

Quick made 20 saves for the Kings, who haven't won a playoff round since winning their second Stanley Cup in 2014. They were eliminated with several games to play this spring despite acquiring Ben Bishop and Iginla near the deadline.

The 39-year-old Iginla, who earned his 1,300th career point with his assist, hasn't decided whether to keep playing next season, but he is leaning toward continuing his career.

"I've got to play for a long time and with great players and great situations," Iginla said. "The guys were great, and for the last few games, they've been trying to help me get (to 1,300 points). It was nice."

A "Go Kings Go!" chant had just started at Honda Center when Eaves beat Quick with a wrist shot 27 seconds after the opening faceoff. Eaves, who scored 11 goals in 20 games after Anaheim acquired him from Dallas, left in the second period with an upper-body injury, but Carlyle doesn't think it's serious.

The game was the finale in the 44-year career of Kings broadcaster Bob Miller, who received a standing ovation that lasted the length of the first commercial break during the first period. Essentially all Southern California hockey fans grew up listening to Miller, who acknowledged the cheers with waves.

NOTES: Clifford snapped a 30-game goal drought since the All-Star break. ... Ducks LW Nick Ritchie served the first game of his two-game suspension for punching Chicago's Michal Rozsival on Thursday. Ritchie also will miss the playoff opener. ... Ducks D Hampus Lindholm returned from a three-game absence with an upper-body injury.

UP NEXT

Kings: Season is over.

Ducks: Host Flames in Game 1 of the first round.

(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)