Final Score: Ducks 2, Kings 1
Roster updates: As expected, neither Cam Fowler nor Teemu Selanne were in the lineup tonight, the former with a lower body injury sustained last night in Colorado and the latter with full body elderliness. For the Kings, Dustin Brown was out of the lineup
First Period Recap: The Ducks nearly struck in the first minute of the game on a terrible turnover by Jake Muzzin to Saku Koivu in the high slot with Martin Jones just getting back into his net after having played the puck, but Koivu's shot went wide.
The first penalty of the game was levied against Tim Jackman for interfering with Kyle Clifford two and a half minutes into the game. During the kill Bryan Allen broke a skate blade and was pretty much out of commission but Ryan Getzlaf battled it out of the zone so that Francois Beauchemin and the referee could help Allen to the bench for a repair. The penalty expired without a Kings shot.
After the kill the Kings carried a little bit of momentum having most of their shots blocked but the newest King Marian Gaborik got the puck all alone to the side of the net and Frederik Andersen made a good save sprawling on his stomach.
Nice of the Kings' organist to lead the crowd in a chant of "Anaheim Ducks" or something that sounds like it.
The Ducks got a chance to turn the momentum around with a power play when Jarett Stoll took a marginal interference penalty against Nick Bonino driving to the net. Getzlaf turned the puck over at center ice to Jeff Carter, the last man on the Kings you'd want to do that to, but Hampus Lindholm did enough to stop Carter from getting a shot on goal. The best Ducks chance on the PP was off of a lucky bounce from the ref's skate, but they couldn't capitalize.
FANTASTIC shift from the fourth line of Matt Beleskey, Tim Jackman and Mathieu Perreault. It was all started by a great hustle play by Beleskey to get to the puck on the end boards and pull it in front for a sharp angle shot. The Ducks recovered possession a couple of times with great forechecking and eventually Perreault laid a sweet little pass off to Jackman who beat Jones on the short side, giving the Ducks a 1-0 lead. OUTSTANDING PASS!!!
Shortly after the goal the Ducks went on the kill again when Andersen left a nasty rebound right in front that two Kings overskated, however both were hooked by Ducks. Hampus Lindholm was the one that got caught. Two minutes, well worth it. The first opportunity during the penalty was for Ryan Getzlaf, but he had his stick lifted by Gaborik at the moment of truth. The Kings got a couple of shots to Andersen off of deflections, but nothing really dangerous and the Ducks killed the penalty.
With just over three minutes left in teh period Beauch and Carter were going at it behind the play. They worked each other over as they worked their way up the ice and Carter eventually got a nice hit on Beauch, but the Ducks got a good scoring chance out of it, with a shot from the point by Getzlaf. It hit Robyn Regehr in front and Corey Perry nearly got to the rebound but Regher high sticked him as he lifted Perry's stick. Initially there was no call on the play, but eventually Regher went off for a standard minor.
At one point in the PP Jakob Silfverberg was in close behind the defender, but lost the handle before he could get anything out of it, and the Kings killed the penalty without allowing a shot.
The Kings had one last opportunity as time clicked down, and Tanner Pearson pushed Allen over Andersen, knocking the net off. That caused a bit of a stir amongst the Ducks and resulted in roughing and interference minors to Allen and Pearson respectively. So the period ended with a 1-0 Ducks lead and 4-on-4 hockey to come.
One final strange note from the first period, the Ducks on several occasions cleared the Kings' zone for them by splitting the D with passes at the blueline. That is not going to cut it against a puck possession team like the Kings. They did pretty well overall keeping the play relatively even (shots were 13-7, but it didn't seem that bad), but given the chance to clear the D zone or hold the O zone you have to take it to keep the pressure on the Kings.
Second Period Recap: The 4-on-4 play to start the period was relatively bland, aside from an Anze Kopitar shot from the slot missing the net high. After the penalties ended the Ducks had a couple of good cycle/forechecking shifts with Mark Fistric getting into the middle of the ice for a shot and some pleasantries were exchanged between Patrick Maroon and Willie Mitchell in the chaos in front.
The Ducks continued to keep the pace up and the puck deep in the Kings zone for another few minutes until Silfverberg knocked the net off accidentally, even though Perry was trying to put it back on to continue the play, the whistle blew. Something tells me that after checking the glass last night and maintaining the net tonight, Corey Perry might have a future in rink management after his multi-million dollar career is over.
Right at the midway point of the game the puck hopped over Ben Lovejoy's stick and Gaborik was there to take advantage, however Lovejoy hooked him off the play legitimately and justifiably for the Kings' third power play of the night. There was no flow to the PP for the Kings, but that didn't matter because Tyler Toffoli scored on a rebound to even the score at one. Stoll's shot may have deflected off of Beauch on its way to Andersen, making the rebound harder to control, in any case it went off the far pad and to Toffoli, who had enough separation from Allen to tap it in.
Just after the goal Getzlaf hit Perry with a beauty of a pass for a breakaway as Perry was cherry picking at the Kings' blueline, but he was a step offside. On the next shift, Maroon scored by pulling the puck off the boards and shoveling it in front for a fortuitous bounce off of Muzzin sliding to take away the passing lane. Just like that, the Ducks were back in the lead in less than a minute.
Immediately after that, Kovu lost sight of the puck in the slot in front of Andersen and the Ducks' rookie goaltender had to peek behind himself to make the save on Stoll. And on the next shift Andersen juggled the puck but eventually knocked it into the corner with his glove. At this point the game was on the verge of getting a little hairy.
One thing that was helping the Ducks with the possession was Frederik Andersen's exceptional puck handling ability. The Kings obviously don't try to dump the puck in much, but when they did, Andersen was all over it for the most part in this game. Toward the end of the second the Kings began rimming the puck around with speed to keep it away from him to some effect.
Toward the end of the period it was clear that Regher's job was to get in the heads of Perry and Getzlaf. He got into a bit of a scrum wit Getzy with a few minutes left, but nothing that 2014 Getzlaf would respond to. More to the point he put a pretty good hit on Perry as the horn sounded to end the period (maybe a split second after?). Perry took exception but no penalties were called and everyone was fired up for the final 20 minutes with the Ducks leading 2-1.
Third Period Recap: The first six minutes of the third went by very quickly with minimal stoppages. The Kings had a couple of rushes with numbers but couldn't make anything of them. It's possible that at this point the back to back turnaround was getting to the Ducks, and if so the pace of the game was working to the Kings' advantage. Perry had the best play of the early moments in the third for the Ducks skating across the slot and getting the puck to Silfverberg, but the Silfver Medalist (sorry) couldn't get it out of his feet in time to make a quality chance of it.
The Ducks slowed the pace down a bit with an icing and a couple of covered pucks by Andersen, then went on their third power play of the game when Dwight King hooked Daniel Winnik on a faceoff. It was another terrible man advantage for the Ducks with the Kings getting the better chances throughout, but two minutes off the clock, I suppose.
The Kings began to pour it on and came inches away from tying it with on a tip from Pearson driving the far post, but Andersen got the slightest of touches on it first. The Ducks weren't exactly sitting back there was a series of entertaining back and forth rushes that got thwarded by really nice defensive plays on both sides through the middle of the third. The best for the Ducks was Winnik putting the shoulder down to get to the inside of Slava Voynov driving at the Kings' net, but Voynov knocked him down clean as a whistle. That's the way you play hockey kids.
With just less than six and a half remaining, Kopitar appeared to score, but it was called no goal on the ice. The puck went off the face of Silfverberg, who was tied up with Gaborik in the crease then off the cross bar and down. The ruling was goaltender interference so it was never reviewed whether the puck crossed the line, which it probably did. Good break, but it was VERY close, and may not have been called a goal anyway.
Then the classy folks at Staples littered the ice with whatever they could find causing a bit of a delay in the game. Seems to my biased point of view that that is a penalty in the rulebook, but not one you're going to see very often.
At this point the Ducks were in full defense mode simply chipping the puck out and getting changes whenever possible. They did a good job though of clearing it into the Kings' zone and not far enough for icing in order to get full changes and allow the clock to keep moving.
Silfverberg had a glorious opportunity in front of Jones and tried to pull it around him and wait the rookie goaltender out, but Jones stayed with it and made a really good save to keep the Kings in it. At the end of that shift Silf was shaken up and was labored as he made his way to the bench.
Jones went to the bench for the extra attacker with 1:15 left, the Ducks iced it with exactly one minute left and Bruce Boudreau called his timeout to rest his guys. That included Francois Beauchemin who had been stung by blocking a shot. Speaking of which, during the time out Bryan Hayward pointed out that the Kings hadn't had a shot on goal since the ten minute mark of the third, thanks in large part to blocked shots and just all around solid defensive play by the Ducks.
The Kings had one scramble around the net in the final minute but couldn't really get anything to Andersen and the Ducks held on for the 2-1 win, to take the season series from Los Angeles with one head to head game remaining.
The Good: That was a SOLID 60 minute effort from everyone in white on the ice. The Kings outshot the Ducks throughout the game but even without Cam Fowler the Ducks stood up to it, but never more than the last 10 minutes of the game where they allowed ZERO shots on goal. That Calgary game is fully in the rear view mirror tonight.
The Bad: It was still REALLY, REALLY F***ING CLOSE. If it wasn't for a lucky bounce off of Muzzin and a goaltender interference call they may not have had a lead to defend as well as they did for the last ten minutes.
The Ugly: Power Plaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay, 0-for-3 with one shot on goal. Getting the PP going would make games like this infinitely easier.
This is pretty tough, because everyone did a really good job defensively.
3rd MVD: Matt Beleskey - as a representative of the bottom six (ish) who did a great job of controlling the puck down low in the Kings' zone early on in the game, leading to the first goal of the game. I originally wanted to give it to Mathieu Perreault, who was good as well, but especially for that insanely beautiful pass to Jackman on the goal, but I think the way Bels was playing was more indicative of what the lower lines did early on.
2nd MVD: Francois Beauchemin - absorbed a lot of the minutes given up by the absence of Cam Fowler. He played 27:11 in this game and it was pretty much a classic Beauch game. Bonus points for going at it with Jeff Carter.
1st MVD: Frederik Andersen - 37 saves, but some really big ones at big moments. Specifically the one that would have made this an entirely different game was in the first period with Gaborik right on the doorstep. Playing the Kings from behind and from ahead are two completely different things and were it not for that save in particular this game could have easily gone the other way.
Final note: The Ducks are now 8-1-2 in the second half of back to backs this season. I don't want to say it, but there's one big difference between the first half of back to backs and the second half this season. It's probably not fair to put that on Teemu, but it's an unfortunate association I can't really put out of my mind.
Next Game: Tuesday March 18, back home to the Washington Capitals 7pm PT