He may carry an $80 mil. price tag for the next ten seasons, but tonight the performance was priceless.
Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist, including what stood up as the game-winner near the end of the second period as the Anaheim Ducks fell to the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 Sunday night at Honda Center.
"Both teams had chances, it was pretty evenly played. They took advantage of theirs, and we had opportunities that we didn't take advantage of," head coach Bruce Boudreau said on Prime Ticket.
The Ducks (19-18-7) dominated the third period, scoring once, outshooting the Kings by a 16-17 margin and getting more attempts at even strength 27-12. The hosts finished with more scoring chances (21-18), but LA had the better of the high danger chances for the game at five on five 8-6. Jonathan Quick finished with 30 saves, and his squad ended up with the most important advantage.
After a scoreless first period, things opened up considerably in the second.
Anaheim has increasingly shown the capability to score in quick succession in recent games, a trait they've had for many seasons under Boudreau. After the Kings took the lead with Vincent Lecavalier rolling a slow backhand between the wickets of John Gibson- who finished with 23 saves- at the near post, the advantage held for just 33 seconds. Shea Theodore's shot from the blue line deflected off the shaft of Rickard Rakell's stick, who reached back with one hand on it cruising across the slot to get the redirect and level the score at 1-1.
LA would press their edge and end up taking the lead back with just over three minutes to play in the period, as Tyler Toffoli took a pass from Kopitar at the near post and shoveled the puck in midair to the front of the net. With Gibson spread out across the ice, the puck bounced off Sami Vatanen who was defending the goal line with his back at the crossbar, dropping over the red line for a 2-1 lead.
The new big money man got the third of the period for the visitors as again the Kings worked a grinding shift in the Ducks zone. Milan Lucic worked the puck from the wall back to the point for Brayden McNabb, who took a slapper through traffic that Kopitar redirected in front through a coin slot opening between the Ducks keeper's legs. With the tally Kopitar picked up his second point of the night, and has 27 points in his last 25 games against Anaheim.
Trailing by a pair to begin the third, Boudreau shook up the Ducks lines, in the process putting David Perron with Ryan Getzlaf and Chris Stewart. The move paid off, as Getzlaf created a turnover by Jake Muzzin and dropped the puck back to the blue line for Perron, whose lasered shot from the far point skimmed home off the shoulder of Quick to cut the deficit to one.
"It's going to take a couple weeks to get used to everything, but I thought overall it was pretty good and I got better as the game went on," Perron said on Prime Ticket.
Andrew Cogliano had an apparent game-tying goal waived off near the midway mark of the final frame, redirecting a centered puck by Ryan Kesler off a Jakob Silfverberg shot into the net with his skate. Anaheim continued to press, but could not find the equalizer, and saw the game effectively end when Gibson got caught heading to the bench for an extra attacker. He came back to make a save on a shot from the neutral zone between the circles, but held for a faceoff beyond the dots and was penalized for delay of game.
"I didn't like the fact we were down 3-1, when we changed the lines around I think we outshot them...we had a little more jump and could've scored," Boudreau said on Prime Ticket.
The Ducks conclude their eight-game home stand on Wednesday against the Minnesota Wild, a 7:30 PM puck drop at Honda Center.