Chart courtesy www.war-on-ice.com
Perhaps the ultimate end of the game was foreshadowed in the opening moments as Ryan Kesler had the first chance of the game in the opening minute, with time and space up the near wing but ultimately firing over top. Anaheim had the jump early, getting good shifts from Rickard Rakell's line with Emerson Etem and Tomas Fleischmann, while the defensive pairing of Cam Fowler and Simon Despres helped create shot attempts numerous times in the early going.
The game was chippy all evening, with Dustin Brown catching Corey Perry with his head down while flipping the puck in from the neutral zone and leveling him to the ice with a clean body check. The hit brought and immediate response from Anaheim, as Clayton Stoner immediately grabbed at the LA captain before Despres came charging in and tackled him to the ice, landing past guard on Brown and flipping off his gloves threatening to work the ground and pound but never throwing a blow. All three received penalties, with Brown and Despres sitting for roughing and Stoner for crosschecking to give the Angelenos a power play just before the midway mark.
It didn't take the Kings long to convert on the man advantage, as Drew Doughty made a switching pass to Anze Kopitar to carry the puck into the zone in the neutral zone to the far wall. Kopitar then teed up Jeff Carter at the top of the right circle for a slapper that deflected off the reaching stick of Hampus Lindholm past the blocker arm of John Gibson to put Los Angeles ahead 1-0 with 10:12 played.
After a whistle Kesler made a quick cut to skate in front of Marian Gaborik, drawing a profanity and chop to the skates from the LA winger that kept the tension simmering between the teams. Anaheim had a pair of power plays, with James Wisniewski drawing a holding penalty on Justin Williams and Andy Andreoff later whistled for interference. The Ducks failed on both opportunities, largely relegated to passing the puck around the perimeter when they were able to hold the puck in the offensive zone.
Fleischmann had the best chance of the period for the hosts, as a Despres shot rebounded off the end boards to Rakell, who whipped it across slot to the Butcher but the backhander from the bottom of the near circle sailed over a sliding Jonathan Quick and the crossbar. LA held the 1-0 lead after one, with Anaheim holding both an 11-6 shot on goal advantage while making 20 attempts, and creating as many scoring opportunities as they allowed King shot attempts (eight).
While the score would remain the same through period two, the Ducks played much better than their typical bugaboo second sessions. Ryan Getzlaf had an early opportunity off the rush, but elected for a back pass to the slot that the LA defense cleared away rather than a shot. Penalties were an issue though, as Anaheim would be whistled for a pair of infractions.
First Lindholm was guilty of interference in taking down Nick Shore off the play, but the Ducks had the best scoring chance of the odd man situation when a blocked clearing attempt bounced to Andrew Cogliano between the circles and he had Quick leaning the wrong way, but the Kings keeper was able to reach back against the grain and blocker it wide. Anaheim killed the initial penalty without a shot against, but were whistled for another when Doughty and Kopitar worked a good possession game in the offensive zone that lead to Despres high sticking Brown in front of the net while trying to clear him out.
The Kings spent the first minute of the advantage in the offensive zone but couldn't work a shot, as again Cogliano's speed created issues and ultimately created a chance for Getzlaf that chipped to the corner off a King defender's skate. Again the visitors came up empty with the man advantage, but would get a pair of solid chances in the final 3:30 of the period. First Gibson was forced to go post to post to make a split save on a point shot, then after Corey Perry missed a hip check in the neutral zone Justin Williams narrowly Shore on a cross slot pass.
Shore would take a tripping minor with 1:38 to play in the period in the offensive zone, taking Wisniewski's feet out from under him in a race for a loose puck behind the net. The second unit spent the first minute of the power play in the LA zone, but couldn't work a shot to the net. For the period the guests out shot the Ducks 8-5, but Anaheim held the edge in attempts at 13-12 and again out-chanced their opponents.
It took little time for the third period magic to kick in, as despite the power play expiring the Ducks kept the puck in the zone for the opening minute, leading to Wisniewski holding the line and finding Getzlaf in the far circle, who centered for Patrick Maroon posted up in front of the net to backhand it past Quick to tie the game 1-1. Jakob Silfverberg would keep the pressure on with a brilliant stretch of individual play by swinging all the way around the net from the near corner to the far wall, then cutting across the high slot to curl to the bottom of the near circle and fire a wrister that got kicked away. Gibson responded with a pad save of his own on Kopitar on the rush four minutes into the period.
Just over a minute later Fleischmann uncorked a high chest slapper from the far point that Quick fought off, leaving the rebound for Etem in the far circle to shot but be kicked away with the right leg. The game had opened up since the early equalizer, with Gibson making stops on Tyler Toffoli and Carter after misplaying a puck. Anaheim then created a break of their own on the rush, with Lindholm springing Cogliano into the offensive zone. Nate Thompson drove hard to the front of the net with Jake Muzzin on his shoulder, causing a commotion in front of Quick and allowed Cogliano's centering feed to slide right to Silfverberg and the Swede to snap it home to build on his career high scoring season with his 12th of the year to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead with 12:25 to play. Quick was apoplectic, demanding an unwarranted goalie interference call by wildly gesturing and then later shoving the net off its pegs by the crossbar as the game had a stoppage in action.
From there the Ducks defensive shell game set in, as they rarely pushed forward and threatened, allowing Los Angeles to gradually build offensive momentum as the period wore on. Though the initial chances weren't threatening from the perimeter, they built to an equalizing moment with 4:14 to play. With the puck deep in the Anaheim zone Muzzin took a rim from Trevor Lewis around the back boards in the near corner, then drawing three Ducks to the near post fed the puck in front to an unmarked Williams to knock home the game-tying 2-2 tally.
Having drawn level LA turned up the heat, pressuring in the Anaheim defensive zone but unable to pierce Gibson for a decider. The Kings pumped 17 shots on net in the period to the Ducks 9, while firing 32 shot attempts in the final frame of regulation. Through 60 minutes Anaheim was outshot 31-25 and out attempted 52-48, but had the better of the scoring chances at 23-12.
The winner came a mere 45 seconds into the extra session, with Fowler pinching down the near wall to swing it to Kesler in the opposite corner. Kesler then curled around up the far wall to the circle and had plenty of time to place his shot as Doughty and Gaborik collided in the slot, twisting a wrister that beat Quick to the blocker side and won the game 3-2 for Anaheim.
Good: It's the second consecutive regular season where Anaheim has taken the series from their fellow southern California side with a 4-0-1 mark, but the way that the games were played show a lot more as far as not allowing Los Angeles to essentially dictate the terms. The Ducks out attempted the Kings in two of the games, and the margin was never larger than six in the three meetings where LA had more. While two of the wins came in shootouts and this one came in overtime, this season series performance feels and is statistically backed as much better than last season.
Bad: While it's great that so many players stepped up, once again there's a bit of a wanting when it comes to the play of Getzlaf and Perry. Though the captain had the primary assist on the Ducks first goal, it was another evening of perhaps looking too much to facilitate rather than take shots that were there on his opportunities. The duo combined for as many shots on goal as Cogliano had (3) for the game. After playing the role of hero in the previous meeting, Perry was largely a non-factor after Brown put one on him in the first period. Should these teams meet again in the postseason, the twins can ill-afford performances like this one.
Ugly: The "prevent defense" reared its ugly head again, and against a team like the Kings the shots and chances pile up quickly when doing little to attempt to counter. Come playoff time the Ducks must be better defending a lead. The comeback act is cute in the regular season, but is a razor's edge to walk in the playoffs when space and time are ever more at a premium.
3rd MVD: Jakob Silfverberg - One can point to the play of both Silfverberg and Cogliano as critical in helping Thompson have such a positive impact on the game. All three finished on the positive side of the shot attempt differential ledger, with Silfverberg getting a pair of shots on goal and scoring the Ducks second goal. On a night where the Anaheim star players struggled to push the play against the Kings top lines, Silfverberg's contribution was a vital one in keeping the action relatively balanced.
2nd MVD: Cam Fowler - Since being paired with Despres we've seen more and more signs of the player fans hoped to see when the Ducks drafted him in the first round back in 2010. Tonight he was the team best for both shot attempt and unblocked shot attempt differential at +10, and had the assist on the game winning goal. Fowler as the third most-used defender with 21:24 in ice time, and with a 10/3 ratio of shift starts in the defensive zone as opposed to offensive zone, showed not only shot suppression but turning play to offense in doing so.
1st MVD: Ryan Kesler - What more can be said about the performance of Mr. Rivalry against Anaheim's in state opposition? Five goals and three assists against the Kings with a pair of game winners as well as having scored a shootout winner, and 1/3 of his goals and 24.44% of his points coming against the other California clubs. While he was the worst center as far as shot attempt differential, it's hard to fault the guy when he won over half of his face offs while seeing the most defensive zone starts (16) of any skater for the Ducks. Oh yeah, and that game winning goal was pretty nice too.
Next Game: Friday, March 20, 2015 at Colorado, 7:00 PM PT