Ducks @ Kings Game 6 Recap: Missed Opportunity

Sad Face. :( - Harry How

Let's just be honest...There was only one way the Battle of California was going to end...in a Game 7.


Final Score: Ducks 1, Kings 2

Excuse the language as I attempt to calmly sit here and hash out all that happened during the game. I am currently only seeing things in hot flashes in the color red. I have a full bottle of wine in my hand as I attempt to type with the other.

Here's a quick version courtesy of Kid Ish:

First Period Recap: Going into LA, the Anaheim Ducks were well aware that this game would be by far the most difficult one yet. The Los Angeles Kings did not disappoint and from the drop of the puck, they commanded the first period. The Kings not only made big hits, but they also won faceoffs, pushed the forecheck, and forced giveaways. Meanwhile, the Ducks looked sluggish on the ice, as they struggled to clear the puck from their own defensive zone.

The Ducks received the period's first man advantage on an interference penalty after Matt Greene leveled Mathieu Perreault. On the power play, the Ducks cycled it around until Cam Fowler found a shooting lane. LA netminder Jonathan Quick quickly covered it up before Patrick Maroon could put away the rebound. Hampus Lindholm was also able to find a shot after patiently breaking into the middle, but no one was in the opposite corner for the huge rebound. After the Kings' efficient penalty kill, the Ducks began to push with Andrew Cogliano and Saku Koivu on the forecheck.

The push back by the Ducks was short lived as the Kings came back on the next possession with a vengeance. Drew Doughty sparked the play and Marian Gaborik found a perfect pass to Anze Kopitar next to the net. With Teemu Selanne trailing yards behind, Jake Muzzin had plenty of time to streak towards the open side of the net and set up for a perfect backdoor pass from Kopitar. The Kings got the early goal that the Ducks so badly needed. *cue Hiller chants*

The Kings continued to simply stifle the Ducks in their defensive zone. The combination of giveaways and failing to clear had the Ducks see a number of "close calls." And the bad play continued when John Gibson came way out of net to clear a puck in order to beat Gaborik to it. Unfortunately instead of clearing it out of the zone, Gibson threw the puck on Ryan Getzlaf's skate, allowing Gaborik to get a stick on it. Fortunately, Ben Lovejoy made a New-Years'-Eve-San-Jose-esque dive to prevent Gaborik from scoring on the vacant net, also the puck was rolling and bouncing, preventing Gaborik to get  a hold of it.

The period was just plain ugly as most of the shot attempts taken by the Ducks were weak and easily stopped by Quick. Passes were wayward as the Ducks struggled to get the puck on stick. A hit by Devante Smith-Pelly drew a boarding penalty and the Ducks ended the period shorthanded.

Here are some ugly stats to give you the full picture of how the Ducks fared in the first period: 6 giveaways, 5 SOGs and only 29% from the dot.

Second Period Recap: So the Anaheim club that was so obviously missing in the first finally came out on the ice and started playing some of the recognizable hockey that has got them this far in the post-season.

After killing the remainder of DSP's penalty, Maroon had the period's first chance, when the Kings gave away the puck in front of Quick. Cogliano and Silfverberg's passing play was only just stopped in front of Quick. Nick Bonino's centering pass from behind the net almost found Lindholm if not for Dwight King pulling the rookie back. King's hooking penalty actually resulted in a collision between Quick, King and Lindholm. With the second power play of the night, the Ducks did cycle the puck around looking to open up the ice. Unfortunately, miscommunication between Getzlaf and Sami Vatanen resulted in a missed pass. The rest of the PP was full of passing and a spare one or two shots--nothing Quick couldn't handle.

On a delayed Doughty slashing penalty, Corey Perry finally got in the mix by getting a backhand shot on Quick. Then DSP's deflection from Perry's shot went wide of the net. The Ducks started to swarm around Quick's net. But what had become an almost sure scoring opportunity for the Ducks on the power play suddenly simmered out in this game.  Bruce Boudreau started the second PP unit of Selanne-Perreault-Bonino this time. While there was good puck movement by Perreault and Selanne, the Ducks came out with no good quality shots. The fact that the Kings dominated the faceoff circle only made it harder for the Ducks to start a forecheck in the offensive zone. The Kings easily killed another penalty.

Up until this point, the Ducks did a decent job pushing back from the awful first period showing. The Ducks improved on the forecheck, the Kings defense made sure to push the Ducks to the periphery. At the same time, the DSP-Getzlaf-Perry line had some decent attempts and the speedy checking line of Cogliano-Koivu-Silfverberg generated some great offense. But the lone rush by Trevor Lewis against Bryan Allen and Hampus Lindholm was the back breaker of this game. Lewis came in alone on the left side with Bryan Allen covering him and Lindholm slightly trailing. Lindholm misunderstood Allen's hand motions asking him for support. Without Lindholm adding the extra pressure, Lewis had plenty of time and space to shoot. But what should have been a sure-save by Gibson, softly trickled right beneath his pads and between his five-hole. And with that soft goal, the Kings were up by two.

The Ducks responded to this goal well when Koivu forced a turnover and found an open side for a backhand. NOT SO FAST said the damn post. The pipe that was so active in the Montreal-Boston Game 7 game decided to appear at the Staples Center and give Quick a hand. The puck hit the post and Matt Greene was able to clear it before any Duck could the rebound. Game of inches folks.

Down two goals, off a Kings turnover, big time playoff performer Kyle Palmieri finally got his overdue second of the playoffs, first of the series, with a beautiful wraparound that was (pardon the pun) too Quick for even Quick. The Ducks were back in it, 2-1.

On the next play, Gibson made a HUGE post-to-post save, when the rebound off Kopitar's wraparound settled on Doughty's tape. Unfortunately, the Ducks were a man short for the next two minutes as Perreault sat in the penalty box for hooking Kopitar on the wraparound. The Ducks efficiently cleared for the first minute and a half of the PK. In the dying seconds, Mike Richards failed to settle the bouncing puck for a shot past the sprawling Gibson.

The Ducks continued to look for the game tying goal in the last few minutes of the period by increasing the offensive pressure. Lovejoy's attempt of keeping the puck alive resulted in a broken stick and a Marian Gaborik breakaway. Instead of leaving Fowler on a 2-on-1, Lovejoy chased Gaborik down to disrupt the play (without taking a penalty mind you) and Fowler was able to deny the pass attempt.

The second period was a much better performance by the Ducks, but they continued to make turnovers and failed to settle the bouncing puck, allowing the Kings extended puck possession and offensive zone time. When the Ducks finally did enter their offensive zone, the exorbitant amount of passing ensued. Too many unnecessary passes, and not enough shooting.

Third Period Recap: The third period went back and forth between the Ducks and the Kings...and the Ducks pushed hard until the very end.

A giveaway by Dustin Brown off the draw allowed the Ducks to test Quick right away. But a giveaway by Lovejoy almost gave Lewis his second goal of the night, if not for Gibson jumping on top of the puck. Acknowledging the bad goal, Gibson did his best by making some great saves in the third, including stretching his right leg along the post to deny King's bid. Cogliano had a nice breakaway attempt but missed on the backhand because of Kings defenseman Jeff Schultz. On the next play, Jeff Carter nearly took advantage of the Ducks shorthanded with only four men on the ice.

A hooking penalty taken by Marian Gaborik gave the Ducks another PP chance to even up the game. But, growing frustrated by the lack of chances, Getzlaf was called for a slashing penalty after chopping Brown's stick. Both the 4-on-4 and the PK was largely uneventful. And pretty soon, Slava Voynov was next to go off to the box for high sticking Perreault. The high stick was accompanied by a slew-foot that caused Perreault to fall backwards and hit the ice pretty hard. The Ducks were much more aggressive in going to the net on this PP. Fowler had an open shooting lane but the puck landed smack dab in the middle of Quick's glove. Doughty was instrumental in killing the penalty, literally causing Ducks to fall over their feet.

After some hustle and forechecking pressure, Lovejoy took a high sticking penalty as he attempted to protect himself from an on rushing Tyler Toffoli. Down one, the Ducks were shorthanded with only four minutes left. Allen blasted Carter in front of the net allowing Gibson to make a save. Despite the puck trickling through the middle of the crease and in front of the net, the Kings could not score the third goal. At the same time, the penalty was well over before the Ducks could finally clear the puck.

After Gibson left the net for the man advantage, the Ducks had some great chances in front of Quick. DSP was all over the crease but Quick made all the necessary stops. With less than 10 seconds left, the Ducks scrambled around the net for the puck. With about five seconds left, Bonino gathered the puck and passed out to Fowler who had an opportunity to shoot. Instead with only two seconds left, the puck bounced out to Perry, who capped a pretty bad night by completely whiffing on the puck. And so we're off to Game 7 on Friday night.

**********

The Good: Kyle Palmieri's wraparound was a thing of beauty. I distinctly remember him single handedly winning in Philly for us with one of his two goals being the same goal. I should know because I was there wearing by Ducks jersey--in a crowd of Flyers fans. He has only recently been inserted back into the line-up, his only playoff goal coming from Game 1 against Dallas. The thing about Palms is that he is a player that shoots first, and he has a hell of a shot. Against a shutdown defensive team like the Kings, a guy like Palmieri can be a real asset. [Ed. Note:  or completely invisible. -CK]

Another good? Well...what better way to solidify a real SoCal rivalry between the Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks than a do-or-die Game 7 playoffs game at the Honda Center? Friday is when sh** will really go down.

The Bad: I do not blame John Gibson for the loss of Game 6 by any means. It was a team loss. With that being said--that second goal was by far the softest goal I have seen in this season's playoffs. It was unfortunate. Like I said, the loss of Game 6 is by no means attributed to only this goal since the Ducks had their chances to tie it up. But if only Gibson timed it perfectly to sit on that puck...or if Lindholm had not backed off and come in to support Allen on Lewis' drive....The fact of the matter is that second goal was a bad goal to give up. Not to mention that was the game winning goal. Welcome to the NHL Gibson--live and learn buddy.

The Ugly: This is a list of "The Ugly" that my fellow ACer's discussed post-game:

1) NBCSN and NHL schedulers--you guys really suck at this. Do they not understand that this is freakin' playoff hockey? Assuming games will only run 2.5 hours and scheduling games back to back is just stupid. Honestly.

2) That post on Saku Koivu's bid really hurt. Inches away from an entire different game.

3) That last play in the dying seconds...was just downright, gawd damn ugly. Cam Fowler had an open opportunity for a shot with about two seconds left. I rewatched the clip over and over again, and I'm still not completely sure if he meant to pass or what....

Here is Kyle's take and rant on the last play:

But that was just it...this was the story of the game. Pass pass pass...and not enough shooting. Yes, you want to find the best quality shots. But when the Kings are blocking lanes and playing their standard shutdown defense, pucks have got to go towards the net. The non-shooting mentality of the Anaheim team was infuriating.

**********

Lots of Dishonorable Mentions to make:

It was suggested that I should give the 3rd Icehole to Teemu Selanne and it KILLS ME to give this to him. But admittedly, he didn't look so hot out there tonight. I think he had some downright brilliant moments in couple of the past games, but he looked slow tonight. The first Muzzin goal was a direct consequence of his bad coverage and defensive breakdown. Selanne was trailing way behind, leaving Muzzin wide open on the backdoor pass. In addition, pucks just didn't seem to stick onto his stick. Probably one of the worst nights in the post season thus far for the veteran.

Hampus Lindholm didn't look so hot either tonight. There was also that lack of support on the soft Trevor Lewis goal, but additionally, Lindholm hesitated too many times on the backcheck.

3rd Icehole: I have to just give this 3rd Icehole to the entire Anaheim team (maybe with the exception of Kyle Palmieri) for the "pass first, pass second, pass third, shoot last" mentality. While the third period in this game was certainly an improvement compared to the past games, it took way too long to kick in. It was virtually non-existent in the first, appeared in glimpses in the second, and finally came to full force by the end of the third. Too late. In order to score on a guy like Jonathan Quick, there will need to be shots on goal in combination with proper crashing of the net. No more of the unnecessary pretty passing. We don't care if the goals are ugly. Bring on the ugly goals.

2nd Icehole: I hate Drew Doughty so much. He was a force to be reckoned with tonight. The Ducks' power plays looked that bad partially because he was so efficient in carrying the PK. He brought in the puck and started the play that opened the Kings' scoring. Until this game, Bruce Boudreau was able to match the lines well enough to limit Doughty's effectiveness. But tonight, Doughty outplayed the Ducks forwards and opened up great opportunities for the Kings.

1st Icehole: Ryan Getzlaf had ZERO SHOTS ON GOAL. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT? Yeah yeah, the game was not entirely your fault. But seriously...where is the 31 goal player that we got to see earlier this season? And THIRTY PERCENT in the circle? He and Corey Perry have some serious talking to do before Friday's game.

Next Game: MARK YOUR CALENDARS AND CANCEL ALL YOUR FRIDAY PLANS. GAME 7 on Friday, May 16th at 6:00PM PST BACK ON HOME ICE AT THE HONDA CENTER.

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