Final Score: Ducks 2, Kings 1
First Period Recap: The first four minutes were like walking on egg shells, very conservative by both teams with the vast majority of play in the neutral zone. The Kings scored on their first real chance of the game. The Ducks tuned the puck over at the offensive blueline allowing speed through the neutral zone for the first time in the game. Andersen made the save on the first shot from Lewis but a slightly shanked pass by Dwight King found Anze Kopitar open on the far side for a tap in.
After the goal the Ducks turned the pace up a little bit. Corey Perry was nearly sent in on a breakaway, but couldn't handle the puck at the offensive blueline. Also Patrick Maroon got in on the forecheck once as Jonathan Quick turned it right over to him, but Maroon couldn't get the puck to the front of the net in time.
Nine minutes in, another good forecheck from Maroon drew a hooking penalty against Alec Martinez after a slight miscommunication with Quick behind the Kings' net. The Ducks had possession for a good portion of the PP but the Kings kill was in all of the passing and shooting lanes, such that the Ducks couldn't get a shot off.
The second power play of the game also went to the Ducks when Andrew Cogliano caught a high stick from Jake Muzzin, but that advantage was marked by nothing but easy clearances by the Kings PK as the Ducks were forced to dump the puck in on nearly every zone entry. They had numbers once on the rush when Mike Richards and Jeff Carter got caught up ice, but as they tried to hold up and get set up in the zone it was yet another easy clear for the Kings.
With about three minutes left, Muzzin hit Andersen with a shot in the face. As the puck went the other way, Maroon put in yet another good shift down low in the Kings' zone, eventually winning the puck to Mathieu Perreault who failed to jam it in the short side.
About a minute and a half later Bryan Allen got caught trying to step into Justin Williams (talk about a mismatch) at the Ducks' blueline and Andersen was forced to make an awkward save against the side of the net.
Williams jumped on a slightly misplayed puck by Andersen, but he made it back into the net cool as a cucumber to make the save with his logo. The period ended with the Kings leading 1-0 and frankly, not giving the Ducks any kind of foothold.
Second Period Recap: Right away in the second, Allen was called for putting a minor pick on Kopitar right off of a D Zone faceoff. LA was dangerous for the first minute of the penalty but Andersen was equal to it. For the second half of the kill the Ducks were able to clear and do a good job to stand the Kings up at the blueline, including Mark Fistric's second big hit of the night. However, immediately as the penalty on Allen ran out Saku Koivu was sent off for hooking.
The second kill was a masterpiece. Jacob Silfverberg pinned the Kings in their own end for an extended shift. Ben Lovejoy made a great hit on Jarret Stoll and a fantastic stick on puck play to break up a rush on the few times the King made their way toward the Anaheim end.
Almost immediately after the kill Matt Beleskey drew an interference call on Willie Mitchell, when he tried to jump past the Kings D-man to get to a chipped puck. Smart penalty by a veteran defenseman, there and for the third time the Ducks didn't make LA pay. This time the puck went up and down the ice, for the two minutes but no real chances or shots were created for either team.
Just past the halfway point of the game Lovejoy got a shot - deflected by Beleskey - through a ton of traffic and into the net but it was waved off immediately for a disgustingly awful goaltender interference call. No penalty was given to Tim Jackman, but the goal was waved off despite the fact that he made an almost imperceptible amount of contact with Quick before the puck was in the back of the net. Terrible call, not reviewable, bad break for the Ducks, still 1-0 Kings.
That seemed to fire up the crowd and the Ducks, a couple of shifts later Perry made a big hit on Slava Voynov at the point that almost set up a 3-on-1 break for the Ducks but Dustin Penner couldn't handle the outlet pass. The post-whistle chirping and chippiness picked up at this point as well. After a rare Kings' defensive zone turnover, Nick Bonino nearly jammed a wrap around in, but Quick was there with the splits in plenty of time.
With just over six minutes left it was another power play for the Ducks as Stoll hit Koivu away from the puck, but as they say fourth time's the charm. Right off the draw Bonino got the shot through traffic, Perry made a really nice deflection off the post and Penner gathered the rebound, moved to the other side of the net and chopped it over Quick in a prone position. That one counted! Tie game.
About a minute later Carter looked to have a chance with a clean zone entry but as he set up for a shot Lovjoy made another BEAUTIFUL stick on puck defensive play to send Cogliano and Silfverberg the other way. Cogs held up, passed to the trailing Koivu but his shot was fired well over the net.
The game seemed to be slowing down as the Kings dominated possession in the Ducks' zone along the boards for almost two full shifts. But when Anaheim got it down the other end, Quick came out of his net to play the puck to Mitchell who was pressured by Maroon into a turnover. Quick got back into the crease just in time to make a save on the point shot, but a few seconds later Patrick Maroon battled the puck over the line, giving the Ducks their first lead of the game. And thus ended the best period of hockey the Ducks had played against Los Angeles in a long while.
Third Period Recap: As much of the momentum as Anaheim had to end the period, LA was able to completely control the first few minutes of the third in the Ducks zone thanks to active defense and a couple of failed clearances. Play evened out a little bit because of two or three turnovers by the Kings as they tried to break out and another great forechecking shift by Maroon (with Bones and Jackman this time). The closest chance of the early third period was a Jackman shot off the post.
With 13 minutes left Dustin Brown made a nice play (it's true) to knock an aerial clearing attempt out of the air and get past Perreault. Matty P tripped him up to negate the scoring chance, but was sent to feel shame for two minutes. The Kings had a scramble at the very beginning of the PP that could have evened the score, but no dice. Cogs and Koivu got away on a shorthanded 2-on-1, but the backcheck of Doughty was enough to send Saku's shot wide.
After the kill, some s*** went down in front of the Kings' bench as Allen was wrecked by Lewis a second or so after dumping the puck in (late hit, not super late, no call). Fistric came to his aid but was slapped with a roughing penalty and it was back to the kill for the Duckies. Allen did not return to the game.
Kopitar had a chance on the rush to start the PP but didn't get much on it. Luckily for Frederik Andersen who didn't seem to know where the shot was coming from. The Ducks also got a break on a bad icing call during the Fistric penalty that should have been waived off when Andersen left the crease to play the puck, and another full two minutes of shorthanded play went by the wayside.
The Kings were coming hard and fast in the last five minutes, but the Ducks were able to protect the blueline and win the one-on-one battles that they were losing in the first period. LA had a number of chances going to the crease, none better than a beautiful backhand saucer pass from Kopitar to Richards crashing toward the far post, but the puck slipped right past the former Flyer captain. Andersen covered and Darryl Sutter pulled Quick for the extra attacker and took his timeout with just over a minute remaining.
For about 30 seconds with Quick pulled the Kings weren't able to make inroads into the Ducks' zone due to some wonderful shutdown play by the Ducks' D. The two best examples being Francois Beauchemin standing up at the blueline and Mark Fistric with another huge hit on Kopitar, dislodging the puck and sending it the length of the ice, with just enough weight not to go for icing.
In the last 30 seconds LA gained the zone and threw a couple of pucks into chaos near the crease but, no doing and the Ducks skated away with a 2-1 victory.
The Good: Once again, the Ducks turned up the heat in the second period after a slow first and for portions of the final 40 minutes beat the Kings at their own game.
The Bad: Not only was it a slow start, but it almost seemed a deliberate slow start. The Ducks were incredibly tentative, over cautious, nervous to make a mistake and that became a self-fulfilling prophecy with the Kopitar goal.
The Ugly: There's just no way that Belesky's deflected goal should have been called back for goalie interference by Tim Jackman. It took at least five viewings of the replay for me to see any contact at all before the puck was across the line (biased, but still).
Third MVD: Mark Fistric - without a doubt his best game as a Duck. Not only was he hitting everything in white, he was hitting with a purpose, not just to make a statement or whatever, but to win the puck and get it going the other way.
Second MVD: Ben Lovejoy - it was the perfect Reverend Lovejoy game. He was a stalwart defensively making fabulous plays with his positioning, his stick and his body, especially at the blueline but also helping out Andersen with rebounds.
First MVD: Pat Maroon - the most consistent performer in black tonight. Through the first period he was one of the only Ducks to create havoc in the LA zone and he carried it throughout the game eventually ending up with the game winner.
Next Game: The Stadium Series versus these very same Los Angeles Kings under the lights at Dodger Stadium on Saturday. (Be prepared, the lead up game is always better than the outdoor game and based on the quality of this one, that trend looks like it will continue)