Another Ducks-Kings rivalry game in the books. Another game decided by one goal. Another game that had everyone (including myself) on the edge of their seats. The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Los Angeles Kings 2-1 tonight in regulation. In a game that had numerous scoring chances, the two biggest stars were the goalies - John Gibson and Jonathan Quick. Quick had more highlight saves, but it was Gibson who came out victorious, stopping 30 of 31 shots.
This was also the game that saw the return of Andrew Cogliano, who was suspended two game for a hit on Adrian Kempe. It was a day of controversy as Dustin Brown was fined for a hit most thought would result in a suspension, which led to further anger about Cogliano’s ironman streak ending.
The Ducks came out aggressive, wanting to take advantage of a fatigued Kings team who were playing the second game of a back-to-back. The entire team was jumping in on the offense, generating a majority of the scoring chances in the opening period. Cam Fowler was probably the most active, including a nifty drive into the slot, getting tripped as he tried a backhander that Quick was able to stop.
The power play wasn’t able to convert tonight (on either team) but the Ducks looked good, getting a lot of chances mostly from Ryan Getzlaf. “If he doesn’t shoot it more often, we aren’t going to put him out there” Carlyle jokingly said when asked about Getzlaf shooting more.
Towards the end of the period, a scare happened at Honda Center as Getzlaf got tangled up on Kempe’s stick and went to the ground hard. He then struggled to get to the bench and limped to the locker room. Fortunately, he was able to return in the second period with no apparent injury.
The second period was a little more ramped up with the Kings having more injury after being outshot 17-5 in the first. It got more heated when Corey Perry bumped Quick, who was outside the crease, as he made a save.
Ducks got their two best chances in a short period of time on their second power play. The first coming after Getzlaf put a slap shot on net which Quick saved but rebounded right to Rickard Rakell on the left side. Rakell tried to one-time the rebound and ended up hitting both posts as the puck threaded the entire goal line. The second chance coming soon after as Adam Henrique chipped a puck in close that snuck under Quick. However, as it was inches from crossing the goal line, Quick was able to contort his body, and snag it with his glove.
The Kings got a chance of their own toward the end of the second as the Ducks turned the puck over in their own zone and got caught outnumbered forcing Cogliano to take a penalty. However, Alex Iafallo was still able to get a shot off as Gibson was scrambling. Gibson was able to get just enough to make it change direction and go off the post.
The final period is when the scoring came into the game with the Ducks breaking the tie. Battle along the end boards led to the puck squirting out in front where Ondrej Kase put a shot on. The shot was blocked, but Henrique was able to grab the puck on the side of the net and, as he’s falling over, helps knock the puck into the net.
Kings were able to even it back up not long after. Jake Muzzin threw a shot on from the point which got redirected in front, making Gibson unable to stop it cleanly. Iafallo was right there to grab the rebound and flip it over the left pad. This seemed like the gameplan for the Kings, as they tried relentlessly to get guys in front for tip-ins and rebounds.
After the longest of grinding by both teams, leaving little to no space for breathing, let alone skating, the Ducks get the lead back. A great forecheck by Jakob Silferberg led to a failed clear by the Kings. Francois Beauchemin ends up with the puck at the point and rips a slap shot which is deflected by Ryan Kesler to beat Quick.
Silferberg ended up missing an empty-netter with a minute left, which allowed the Kings to put up a last chance effort. The Ducks were able to make some key blocks as the final seconds ticked off the clock.
This gave the Ducks a huge two points, tying them with the Kings, the Minnesota Wild, and the Colorado Avalanche for the final wild card spot. The Avs have games in hand so they hold the spot, but the points were crucial nonetheless. This also makes it six losses in a row for the Kings (woo!).
The Ducks are back in action Sunday night when the host the San Jose Sharks in another crucial Pacific Division (and another Cali rival) game. Takes place at the Honda Center at 6pm PST.