Helene Elliott / ON THE NHL

Kings see value even in 4-3 shootout loss to Ducks

Though the Kings are forced to concede Pacific Division supremacy to their rivals, they keep their eyes on the prize of making playoffs and feel good about playing a hard, battle-oriented game.

Grace and Louis Sutter didn't raise any dummies among their seven sons on their ranch in Viking, Canada. Darryl, the Kings' coach and perhaps the smartest of the brothers, knows when things add up and when they don't, and he knew his team's admittedly slim chances of winning the Pacific division title had evaporated Sunday after a 4-3 shootout loss to the Ducks at the Honda Center.

Sutter had pretty much conceded division supremacy to the Ducks on Saturday while previewing the game. Dropping nine points behind the Ducks on Sunday with each team having nine games left merely reinforced his theory.

"I went to school and I graduated and I can do the math," he said, "and with that few games left, it's pretty much impossible. I've been in the game long enough to know that.

"We're trying to get our own points. We couldn't care less who wins the division."

It all but certainly won't be the Kings, but that might not mean much. Last season, the Kings finished third in the Pacific and eighth in the Western conference and still dominated during the playoffs, losing only four games before claiming the Stanley Cup.

They're a solid fourth now, eight points clear of ninth-place Phoenix. They should make it without too much difficulty and, maybe, get home-ice advantage in the first round.

"The hardest part is just getting in," right wing Justin Williams said. "And once you're in — and we obviously proved it last year — anything can happen. A 48-game season, the hardest part is just getting in and staying with it."

If their pride was wounded by realizing a division banner isn't in their immediate future, it healed quickly.

They played a hard, battle-oriented game and answered the better-rested Ducks goal for goal until the shootout, when Jonathan Bernier was beaten by Bobby Ryan, Saku Koivu and Corey Perry. The Kings could get only Jeff Carter's backhander past Viktor Fasth.

Bernier blamed himself for the loss.

"I've got to be better. It wasn't my best game, that's for sure," he said. "I've got to come up with those big saves to come up with that extra point."

But overall there wasn't much to pick apart on the Kings' side.

"I thought our game overall was pretty good. We battled back in a tough building, against a great team, three times, and we did it late," Williams said. "Unfortunately we couldn't get it in regulation or overtime and then it comes down to a skills competition, and we were on the losing end."

Not by much. They outshot the Ducks, 38-22, including a 16-5 edge in the third period.

Drew Doughty was a force at both ends of the ice, contributing a goal and four hits while playing a game-high 28 minutes and 40 seconds.

Dustin Brown was everywhere, assisting on the goal by Doughty that made it 1-1 and tying the game at 3-3 by batting the puck out of mid-air and past Fasth with 3:45 left in the third period.

"I think if we had another couple of minutes in overtime, we were going to get one," Doughty said.

Even though they didn't, their comebacks outweighed the loss of a point in Sutter's eyes.

"Did it three times. Can't complain about that," he said.

And there was little complaining from the Kings about the division title being beyond their grasp.

"It doesn't matter. Ultimately we've got to get ready for the playoffs and we feel like our game is coming along," center Anze Kopitar said.

"Even tonight, we battled hard. We played pretty good against a good team and we came back three times from a goal down, and in the shootout, it is what it is. They were better at it tonight."

helene.elliott@latimes.com

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