First Period Recap: Jonas Hiller got the start and the Ducks iced a starting lineup of Ryan Getzlaf, Dustin Penner, Corey Perry, Francois Beauchemin and Hampus Lindholm. Vin Scully and Bob Miller got the crowd going as they announced the start of the game together. The USC marching band was on the field to lead Wayne Gretzky to the ice for the official puck drop. For reference the Kings starters were Drew Doughty, Mike Richards, Anze Kopitar, Willie Mitchell and Jeff Carter.
The Ducks won the opening faceoff and began to rush up ice in what seemed to be slow motion. After a quick shot on net the Kings rushed Hiller, but he stood tall to stop a jam play after a steady cycle from LA. The ice looked shiny but it was clear that the puck was sticking and it made passing difficult. Teemu Selanne took his first shift on the ice and he was cycling with speed. The big line was sent out after a Kings icing. Getzlaf won the face-off and threw the puck into traffic and it squeezed past Jonathan Quick where Perry taped it in.
The crowd could not be heard at all in the first period on television. The distance from the actual rink surely contributed to the on-screen crowd volume. Hiller makes a save on an odd man rush with Fowler back defending. Hiller was forced to make another good save against Kopitar who was pressing. The Ducks won a face-off and Selanne, Nick Bonino and Matt Beleskey started cycling. Beleskey went to the net and slapped the puck out of mid air, off the blocker of Quick and into the net.
The Kings started to play their possession game after the second goal. A penalty shot was awarded to Kopitar who was hooked from behind by Ben Lovejoy on a breakaway. Hiller stopped the penalty shot going five-hole. Lots of shots came in from distance on Hiller, which made it easy for him to make saves. The defense really did a great job of boxing out the Kings players and keeping them to the perimeter.
Tim Jackman, who was having a repeat performance, was pulled down at his own blue line and a scrum broke out. Colin Fraser and Patrick Maroon were sent to the box for roughing. Four-on-four hockey began with the Kings breaking into the Ducks end. Beauchemin blocked a centering pass by laying down in the crease and was able to send the puck out of the zone. The Kings started doing their possession thing again but couldn't get shots in close with good defense from the Ducks. Four-on-four ended and the Ducks almost immediately went on the kill when a holding penalty was assessed to Bryan Allen after losing his stick and grabbing Richards.
On the penalty kill, Hiller was hit in the face with a stick and then took a puck up high that deflected out of play. That was the only real chance the Kings were able to generate as the Ducks' killed the penalty. Everyone was sweating a lot and it looked like Bruce Boudreau's plan of taking short shifts was really doing the Ducks some good.
If you had the misfortune of watching this amazing game on NBC Sports Network, you got to hear baseball terms/puns all night and very little play by play or explanation of the game. (If you don't believe it, check the reaction from fans on Twitter.)
Lots of turnovers from LA deep in their zone gave the Ducks a few chances late. The Ducks ended up taking a 2-0 lead into the locker room. Shot count at the end of one: 20-7 Kings.
Second Period Recap: The first real good chance went to the Ducks on the rush. Right after that, Hiller stopped Kyle Clifford on the side of the net. Clifford and Jackman dropped the gloves right after the whistle. Jackman took the most damage, getting cut near the eye and clearly bleeding in the penalty box.
Quick made a huge save on Cogliano from a feed behind the net. This was probably Quick's best save of the game, but the NBCSN guys didn't even react to the shot or glove save. After a good shot got deflected out of play by Winnik, a delay of game penalty was given to Slava Voynov who also had his stick in close on the play. The Ducks and Kings both had great penalty killing in this game, and the best play on the power play was a huge Getzlaf hit on Kopitar trying to break into the Ducks' end shorthanded. No good chances and no goal came on the power play.
Almost immediately after failing on the penalty, Hampus Lindholm was called for interference on a delayed penalty and the NBCSN feed went into an overhead view that made me feel like I was playing NHL 14. Nice stick work prevented shots early in the penalty kill for the Ducks. Just like the horrible overhead view, the Kings' power play ended when Jeff Carter went off for interference.
After a short time of four-on-four play, the Ducks had a power play for 1:14. The best chance for the Ducks on the power play was a blast from Cam Fowler that rebounded to the left of Quick, but no Ducks were there to tap in the puck. A breakaway for Cogliano on a perfect aerial pass from Palmieri got in too close on Quick and ended up going wide. Hiller stopped Kopitar on a partial break in behind the Ducks' defense.
A penalty against Drew Doughty for tripping sent the Ducks on another power play. Unfortunately, the power play was virtually useless as both teams were shutting down everything tonight. A hooking penalty on Palmieri sent the Kings on the power play late in the period. The seconds wound down and the period came to an end with 1:24 left on the Kings power play. Shot count at the end of two: 26-13 Kings.
Third Period Recap: The Kings started the third strong by getting in and setting up the power play. Winnik broke up a pass and sent Getzlaf in shorthanded, but the puck was just out of his reach. With a few seconds left in the Kings' power play, Hiller made a huge save. The save resulted in a rush up ice by Palmieri who took the puck straight to the net, colliding with Quick with help from behind. Quick went up to Palmieri after the chance and yelled at him in the corner. A penalty was later assessed to Palmieri for goaltender interference, even after avoiding Quick.
Luckily for the Ducks, it appeared that the Kings' power play wasn't changed by the ice conditions. (aka: it was bad) The Ducks killed the penalty easily. This was a completely different Hiller than the Tuesday game against Winnipeg. He was tracking the puck well and making the reads to get into position to make saves.
Maroon was having another good game and was able to break up a pass and head up ice on a nice play. The Ducks ran out of room, but everyone crashed the net to get a piece of the puck. Sending bodies to the net and keeping the plays simple was clearly the Ducks' game plan, and it was working. I began listening to the Ducks' radio broadcast at the start of this period and it was great.
The Ducks, again, were doing a great job in the neutral zone and on defense, boxing the Kings out and pushing them to the boards. The closest chance for the Kings was stopped by Hiller as he held the post on another good Kopitar bid. What appeared to be an amazing backcheck by Getzlaf saved a sure goal on an open net as Dwight King had the puck hop over his stick.
There was a moth on the ice and the Kings players were trying to catch or kill it, but that bug wasn't having any of it and deked its way around the players. When play continued, the Kings pulled Quick with two minutes left. Almost immediately, Cogliano hit the empty net off a pass from Palmieri who drew the defense away.
This was the 100th career NHL goal for Cogliano, and it came in the most Cogliano-esque way possible. The Ducks just clogged up the neutral zone and ate the final minutes. Hiller earned the SHUTOUT and had a huge smile on his face in what was an amazing rebound performance.
The Ducks stayed out on the ice and gave a salute to the crowd, but no handshake took place as the Kings were off the ice faster than the Kings fans leaving early trying to avoid LA traffic. The Ducks extended their lead over the Kings to a huge 19 points and Hiller earned his fourth shutout of the season.
GOOD, BAD, UGLY:
Everything about this game was amazing. It was entertaining to watch and the Ducks even shutout their SoCal rivals. I've decided to leave you with some of my favorite tweets from the practice on the 24th and the game itself:
Practice Jan. 24:
(The Fowler-Bonino bromance lives!!!)
Stadium Series Game Jan. 25:
I stalked Vin Scully down a hallway pic.twitter.com/FmHenwokEf— Jen Neale (@MsJenNeale_PD) January 26, 2014
54,099 for a outdoor hockey game in LA. and the ice hasn’t melted. They said it couldn’t be done.— LA Kings (@LAKings) January 26, 2014
(a great attendance)
DUCKS WIN! SHUTOUT!!!!! Na na na na.. Na na na na! Hey hey hey! Goodbye!— ✿ Vicky ✿ (@PrincessDuck) January 26, 2014
That's a lot of $$$$ to not even see a goal sorryyy except I'm not— Krystle (@ducks4thecup) January 26, 2014
Love that the #NHLDucks saluted the crowd after that game. The Kings? They went a different way with it.— Adam Brady (@AdamJBrady) January 26, 2014
Darryl Sutter on the 19-point edge between Ducks and Kings: "You really think we're going to close that?"— Eric Stephens (@icemancometh) January 26, 2014
Forget the ice, the only water that pooled up at the end of the LA Stadium Series game were the tears in my eyes.— The Royal Half (@theroyalhalf) January 26, 2014
Corey Masisak be like "Ducks couldn't kill that Moth, so I've decided to drop them out of the Super 16 rankings."— Matthew Torres-Gomez (@OCkid714) January 26, 2014
3rd MVD: Matt Beleskey (also the official 3rd star): Beleskey registered five hits and a goal in the win. He was great on a line with Teemu Selanne and Nick Bonino. Beleskey drove the net hard and was one of the most physical Ducks on the ice. His play away from the puck was solid too.
2nd MVD: Corey Perry and the top line: Corey Perry scored the opening goal of the game on a play that showed the power of the top line. Getzlaf's shot squeezed through Quick and Penner and Perry were both behind the defense to poke the puck over the line. The top line combined for 5 shots on goal, 2 points and 4 hits. They really carried the play early and, as a result, the Ducks took the lead and never looked back.
1st MVD: Jonas Hiller: Hiller was a giant, bright orange wall tonight. He kept the Ducks in the lead when the Kings began to press right after the opening goal. He stopped a penalty shot from Anze Kopitar in the first period as well. Like Bruce mentioned in his post-game interview, by the third period there was no way that the Kings were going to get anything past Hiller. He registered his fourth shutout of the season (one less than his career high) in one of the most anticipated games of the season.
Next Game: Tuesday, Jan. 28, 7:00 PST versus the Minnesota Wild