The morning has come, and everything just seems a little better in the world. The night before, two California powerhouses were battling for all the glory in the final Freeway Faceoff of the season. The Anaheim Ducks emerged victorious against their nemesis, the Los Angeles Kings. These two teams have the greatest rivalry in hockey, and they lived up to it once again last night.
From the moment the puck dropped, intensity and excitement overwhelmed not just the players, but the fans as well. Nothing at Honda Center compares to the roar of the crowd when the Ducks meet the Kings. And with 19 seconds remaining in overtime, and one swift shot, the better part of the crowd was able to jump to their feet and make it roar one last time that night.
The Ducks and Kings were immediately at each other, throwing body checks whenever possible. Both teams knew what’s on the line and had every intention of making sure they came out the winner. The Kings took an early step with a goal six minutes in from the former Norris winner, Drew Doughty, as he walked in and beat Gibson glove side.
The Ducks stormed back and led the scoring chances. They weren’t able to respond until the last minutes in the second period, however, when Nick “big boy” Ritchie banged in a rebound after Ondrej Kase made work of the Kings and set Francois Beachemin up for one-timer.
NICK RITCHIE TIES IT UP FOR THE DUCKS! pic.twitter.com/lJpsDE9Rqn— NHL Daily 365 (@NHLDaily365) March 31, 2018
The third period had everyone on the edge of their seats. Both teams traded chances, and both goalies played out of their minds. John Gibson made 32 saves with 14 chances being in high-danger. While Jonathan Quick made 27 saves and faced 21 high-danger chances. And the best part didn’t come until overtime.
After everything was thrown off the table - and by everything I mean the 3v3 possession game the Kings are great at, and the Ducks are terrible at. After that was abandoned, the Ducks and Kings began trading odd-man chances in a chaotic back and forth. I wasn’t at the game, but I’m 100% sure not a single person was sitting down during this overtime.
But our Swedish sniper (sorry Silf, not you) put the dagger in with just 19 seconds remaining in Overtime as the crowd erupted. A perfect ending to an incredible game with playoff implications on the line.
Best and Worst
Best - Rickard Rakell scoring goals is always a great thing for the Ducks. He leads the team in goals with 32, and him scoring will be a crucial part of the Ducks winning once they make the playoffs.
Rickard Rakell tonight:— Felix Sicard (@Felix_Sicard) March 31, 2018
7 shot attempts
3 scoring chances
1 high danger chance
Game-winning OT goal.
Oh, and Drew Doughty's ankles.
Best - The Cogs-Kes-Silf line was dominant. The Kingslayer may not have appeared on the scoresheet, but that doesn’t change the fact that they were deadly. Andrew Cogliano, Ryan Kesler, and Jakob Silfverberg essentially made the Kings top line useless as our pal CJ so kindly explained.
One of the noteworthy stories tonight: the shutdown line had a MASSIVE turnaround. That line was hard matched against the Kopitar line, and all they did was control 80% of the shot attempts and 90% of the scoring chances.— CJ Woodling (@CJWoodling) March 31, 2018
What a dominant game from Kesler & co.
Worst - With the two points the Ducks captured, they hopped St. Louis for the first wild card spot. If there was one fault of the game, it was the Kings grabbing one point from it going to overtime. With it, the Kings remained one point ahead of the Ducks, and therefore, remained in the 3rd pacific spot. The Ducks do have a game in hand, however, so the Ducks still have the advantage.
Three Stars of the Game
3. Nick Ritchie - The guy scored a goal.
2. John Gibson - Gibby knows the level of game he has to have in order to beat Quick. He went toe-to-toe and walked away with the W. The guy even made a save when the net wasn’t there.
1. Rickard Rakell - Rak City! Snipes the game-winner and left Kings fans mortified. That’s always a first star move.
The Ducks will be back in action on Sunday when they host the Colorado Avalache at 6pm PST.