Photo credit: Richard Mackson / USA TODAY Sports
On the one hand, this game was not quite as close as it appeared by the final score (4-3 in favor of the Ducks). But on the other hand, the gap was probably not quite as widespread as one might think based on how the final score came about. There’s an old cliche, “I’d rather be lucky than good” and that sort of applies to this game. It’s not that Anaheim didn’t work hard and play a good game; they did. But they also got some fortuitous bounces and good teams will get bounces their way.

The first two minutes of the game had a lot of back and forth action before Anaheim was able to capitalize on a mistake that Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin made. Muzzin blew a tire in the corner and Nick Bonino took advantage, firing the puck past a screened Jonathan Quick.

Trevor Lewis tied the score (renewing Kings fans’ hopes that there was a chance to win this game) at 10:48. A sloppy line change by the Ducks allowed Lewis to enter the zone with speed and ruin John Gibson‘s shutout record after forcing a turnover from Bryan Allen who may have partially screened his goalie and/or may have tipped the puck.

There was more back and forth action after that, but both goalies stood tall. Early in the second period, Justin Williams took a hooking penalty. Devante Smith-Pelly was credited with tipping in Teemu Selanne‘s shot on the ensuing power play. Defenseman Jeff Schultz got caught puck watching and failed to tie up Smith-Pelly while also missing Mathieu Perreault standing behind them.

It was downhill from there as Anaheim scored twice more before the game was even half over.

Goal #3: Alec Martinez attempted to go up the wall to clear his own zone but the man he was trying to pass to was covered by Ryan Getzlaf who passed it to Smith-Pelly who was all alone in the slot. Smith-Pelly deked and scored. That was an ugly mistake by Martinez, but the bigger mistake was allowing an opposing forward to get into the zone alone in the middle of the ice.

Goal #4: Under pressure, Jordan Nolan decided to pass the puck up the middle of the ice to Matt Greene. It was a soft chip that bounced over Greene’s stick to a Ducks player who shot the puck. Quick couldn’t handle the rebound and it popped out to Jakob Silfverberg who was able to beat him this time.

So that’s two fortunate bounces for Anaheim, one for LA if you’re keeping track. That’s not to say that they didn’t earn their bounces, but they were still fortuitous.

With two minutes left in the second, Smith-Pelly accidentally hit Drew Doughty in the face with his stick. The referee assessed Smith-Pelly a double minor (apparently he saw blood) and it was just the break LA needed if they had any shot of staging a comeback. Working down low, Jeff Carter shot the puck at Gibson’s far pad, who kicked it out wide as expected. Muzzin got the rebound and threw the puck towards the slot, where Marian Gaborik was waiting and buried it. Now LA was within two goals and they still had an extra power play. Suddenly the odds didn’t seem quite as insurmountable as they had before.

The Kings started the third period with 43 seconds left on the power play but didn’t score. The Ducks retreated into their same defensive shell that worked so well for them in the past two games and were mostly successful. With just under six minutes to go in the game, Anze Kopitar worked the puck into the offensive zone, got it over to Dustin Brown who backhanded it towards the front of the net where were Gaborik and Sami Vatanen were dueling in front. It ended up being a double deflection as Gaborik initially redirected the puck with his stick and it hit Vatanen’s skate, which ended up redirecting it again.

Unfortunately, though, that was as close as they would come. Gibson made some great saves in the dying seconds of the game to stave off any late heroics and keep Anaheim ahead.

Positives for LA:

  • Their power play was excellent; it generated several chances and was finally rewarded when Gaborik scored
  • Gibson no longer looks like a world beater. In other words: he’s not unsolvable and it’s possible to get pucks past him
  • For the most part, they were able to limit Anaheim’s odd man rushes
  • In general, they looked like a better team than Anaheim when they’re not making so many mistakes or turning the puck over
  • They found their possession game (score effects notwithstanding, of course)

Negatives for LA:

  • They were extremely sloppy in their own zone all night. If they expect to win the series, or at the very least force a Game 7, they will need to be sharper and cleaner with their passes and breakouts
  • There seemed to be collective brain farts at the worst possible moments. How is it that this group of champions who made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals a year after winning it all could possibly forget how to play as a team? What happened to the overall effort that they showed in the Sharks series?
  • Jonathan Quick did not have a great night. He wasn’t terrible and wasn’t the sole reason they lost, but it’s apparent that he’s going to need to be a whole lot better if his team has a chance of winning
  • The defensemen often looked lost, as if they weren’t sure what they were doing (except, of course, Drew Doughty)
  • Injuries have overextended the blue line and the replacements are simply not good enough. Once the season is over, Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi will need to take a long, hard look at his defensive corps. The depth is thin and in case of injuries, a substitute player should at least break even and not hurt the team

 

It was kind of a weird game in that the Kings were mostly outshooting the Ducks all night, but couldn’t seem to figure out how to beat Gibson.

After Anaheim’s fourth goal, you can really see score effects take over as the Ducks lapsed into a defensive shell. A few mistakes proved costly as LA was forced to chase the game most of the night. They proved that they can beat Anaheim but will need to limit errors and turnovers in order to force a Game 7. The Kings do have the benefit of experience behind them while their southern counterparts can only look back to the Dallas series in Round 1 for guidance.

The Kings will attempt to stave off elimination yet again on Wednesday night at 6:30 PM (PT) and force a Game 7, which will be on Friday night at 6 PM (PT). Perhaps the early start will motivate the Kings to show up on time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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