There are a lot of ways to look at Wednesday night’s victory over the Ducks for the Kings. They were once again unable to score at 5-on-5, and their only goal was basically handed to them as they had a 5-on-3 for 1:43. On the other hand, the Kings took 37 shots on goal. However, Jonas Hiller was fantastic for Anaheim, but at the same time, the Kings went 1-for-6 with the power play, and that first number has to improve if the Kings aren’t going to score at even strength. Also, how many of those 37 shots were quality scoring chances, and how many were just basically throwing the puck on net?
They also gave up the tying goal late, after a bad penalty by Justin Williams and on a goal that Jonathan Quick probably should have stopped, so they ended up giving up a point to a division rival. Also, because they ended up not winning the game until the shootout, shootout wins don’t count as wins in tiebreakers at the end of the season, so it could come back to bite them. On the other hand, the Kings should finish well ahead of the Ducks at the end of the season, it’s only one shootout win, and it’s probably too early to be worried about a potential tiebreaker anyways. Hopefully it won’t come down to that, and at the end of the day, although they were so close to escaping with a regulation win and likely would have if not for Williams’ bad penalty, Quick allowing a goal that he usually saves, and the Kings unable to score against a team that was struggling big time (although Hiller broke out of his slump and played great)… It’s two points.
It’s two points, and although it wasn’t thanks to the offense, if the Kings can keep putting on offensive pressure like they did yesterday and have a few more bounces go their way, then they’re going to score a lot more goals. They should have had a few more yesterday, but the bounces didn’t go their way, and Hiller was fantastic. At the end of the day, it’s just good that they were able to escape with the win, despite the offense not clicking for them and the bounces not going their way most of the time, and although the Kings are only two games removed from a 1-4-2 stretch, they’ve now quietly also won three of their last four games.
As far as games that have only one goal until late in the third period go, it doesn’t get much more entertaining than the game that went on at Staples Center on Wednesday night. The Kings and Ducks are going to get a chance to put on a sequel to their performance right away, as the two teams are back at it tonight as they’ll each bus down to Anaheim today and prepare for their rematch tonight, as the struggling Ducks will try and right the ship once again and get some revenge over the Kings, while the Kings try and sweep this home-and-home set with Anaheim.
Yes, the Kings are right back at it today, but before that, let’s recap last night’s win over the Ducks…
1st period: The Kings dominated the Ducks in a scoreless first period. They outshot Anaheim 17-5, and the best chance came when Dustin Brown poked at a rebound off of an Anze Kopitar shot and the puck hit the crossbar and then the post, but stayed out. The Kings went 0-for-2 on the power play, while the Ducks didn’t have one, but got a power play at the 19:25 mark that they didn’t capitalize on in the first period, but would carry over into the second period for 1:25 of a man-advantage.
2nd period: The game stayed scoreless until the 7:38 mark of the second period. The Kings were given 1:43 of a two-man advantage, and with one minute remaining on it, Mike Richards scored after Jack Johnson’s shot went wide off the boards and went right to Richards who buried it. Dustin Brown also got an assist. The Kings would have 1:17 of a 5-on-4 power play remaining, but didn’t capitalize. The Kings outshot the Ducks 12-7 in the frame, while going 1-for-3 on the power play, and the Ducks went 0-for-2. The Kings also got a late power play at the 18:21 mark, but didn’t capitalize. However, they would have 21 seconds of a power play remaining to start the third.
3rd period: At 5:25 of the third period, on an Anaheim power play, it appeared that the Ducks had tied the game. However, it was determined that Ryan Getzlaf knocked the puck into the net with his glove, and video review confirmed that, so the goal was disallowed. Then at the 16:25 mark, Justin Williams was called for tripping Cam Fowler in the offensive zone. Although Fowler may have dove, Williams should have been more careful with his stick in that situation, and just 10 seconds later at the 16:35 mark, the Ducks tied the game, this time for real. Who else but Kings-killer Teemu Selanne controlled the puck at the left circle and took a shot that Quick was able to get a piece of, but it squeaked by him for Selanne’s sixth goal of the season. Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf picked up the assists. Quick may have been screened a bit on the play, but definitely one he’d like to have back. Two posts ago, I talked about how the Kings were developing a recent, disturbing trend of letting up in the third period when they have a lead, no matter how small that lead may be, and tonight it finally came back to bite them. Well, sort of. The third period is when teams need to step their game up and make one final push, but the Kings seem to do being the exact opposite recently, and that has to change. The Kings went 0-for-1 on the power play in the third, while the Ducks went 1-for-2. The Kings went 1-for-6 on the power play in regulation, while the Ducks went 1-for-4. The Ducks outshot the Kings 9-7 in the frame, but the Kings outshot the Ducks 36-21 in regulation.
Overtime: It was a very open, fast-paced overtime that was exciting and featured a lot of end-to-end action and scoring chances, but the extra frame would solve nothing. Anaheim outshot Los Angeles 3-1 in overtime, but the Kings outshot them 37-24 on the night. Neither team had a power play, meaning LA finished 1-for-6 on the night while Anaheim finished 1-for-4.
Shootout: The Kings elected to shoot first.
1st round: Anze Kopitar came in and tried his patented move where he tries to open up the goaltender’s five-hole and slide it through, but Hiller kept his stick there and kept the puck out. Kopitar is now 1-for-3 on the year in shootouts.
Bobby Ryan came in and simply just tried to shoot it past Quick, but Quick stood his ground and kept it out with his pad. Ryan is now 1-for-3 on the season.
2nd round: Mike Richards is 0-for-1 in penalty shots this year, but got his first shootout attempt as a King… And is now 0-for-1 in shootouts, too. Richards’ low wrist shot was stopped by the outstretched left leg of Jonas Hiller.
Teemu Selanne came in, slowed down and faked a shot, then took a shot that Quick got a piece of and deflected the puck high over the net. Selanne is now 2-for-4 on the year.
3rd round: Jarret Stoll was Mr. Automatic this season, going 9-for-10 and making each of his last eight attempts. However, he was 0-for-1 this year and has struggled to score in regulation, too, but came in and ripped his patented laser snap shot off the far post and it. He is now 1-for-2 on the year.
Jonathan Quick had a chance to stop Ryan Getzlaf and win the game for the Kings, but Getzlaf came in and shot it low past Quick’s glove to keep the Ducks alive. He is now 1-for-3 on the year.
4th round: Dustin Brown came in and went to his backhand but was unable to beat Hiller. He is now 0-for-2 on the year.
Corey Perry had a chance to win it for the Ducks, but his high shot hit Quick and stayed out. He is now 0-for-4 on the year.
5th round: Jack Johnson, who had 22 career shootout goals, the most among any active King, but has struggled in shootouts recently got his first attempt of the season and did his patented fake backhand, go to the forehand, but Hiller did a great job of stretching out his right leg and taking away any room Johnson would have had along the ice, and since Johnson made a move that didn’t give him much leverage to raise the puck, Hiller kept it out.
The Ducks got another chance to win it, but Cam Fowler’s shot hit Quick’s right arm and stayed out. He is now 0-for-1 on the season.
6th round: Simon Gagne came in down the left side, cut to the middle, then tried to go back to the left and jam it by Hiller, but Hiller covered the post and gave Gagne no room to get the puck in. Gagne is now 0-for-3 on the year.
Anaheim got a third chance in as many shots to win the game, but for the third time in as many shots, didn’t capitalize. Saku Koivu’s shot hit the stick of Jonathan Quick and deflected high and over the net. Koivu is now 0-for-1 on the year.
7th round: Justin Williams got his first shootout chance of the year, and made no mistake. Williams simply came in and wired a wrist shot by Hiller’s glove from the slot. He is now 1-for-1 on the year.
So instead of shooting for the win as they had done in the previous three rounds, the Ducks now had to score just to stay alive, but Jonathan Quick stopped Kurtis Foster to give the Kings the win. Foster is now 0-for-1 on the year. After the Kings went 10-2 in shootouts last year, largely thanks to Stoll and Quick, who was 10-0, they were 0-2 in shootouts this year, but Stoll and Quick helped bring back some of that shootout magic and helped the Kings get the extra point.
Also, I was impressed with the Ruskies (Russian rookies) yesterday. Loktionov looked poised in both ends of the ice, and on a 2-on-1 with Dustin Brown made a tremendous pass to Brown, but he couldn’t finish it off. Neither Loktionov or Voynov particularly stood out, but both were solid. Both of their skill is very evident. Voynov got regular power play time, however, Loktionov did not. Trent Hunter was instead seen on the second power play unit, replacing Dustin Penner as the big body for net presence, but come on… You can’t have Hunter over Loktionov. Use someone else in front, who although they may not be as big as Hunter, I’d happily sacrifice that to get Loktionov’s skill out there.
By the way, my apologies but because the Kings are playing the same team for the second-straight night, I didn’t feel like there was much point of writing another game preview for tonight’s game. So hopefully this is enough to get you set for tonight’s game, and of course you can read the preview that I wrote for yesterday’s game.
It’s not yet known if there will be any lineup changes for either team. Last night’s lineup for the Kings was Anze Kopitar between Simon Gagne and Justin Williams, Mike Richards between Andrei Loktionov and Dustin Brown, Jarret Stoll between Kyle Clifford and Trent Hunter, and Colin Fraser between Ethan Moreau and Trevor Lewis. On defense, it was Jack Johnson with Drew Doughty, Willie Mitchell with Slava Voynov, and Rob Scuderi with Matt Greene. Brad Richardson, Kevin Westgarth, and Davis Drewiske were the healthy scratches.
Jonathan Quick was in goal, and although he played a strong game for the most part yesterday, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Jonathan Bernier in goal today, and as I mentioned in my last post, it would be smart to play Bernier today. The Kings are facing a struggling team that is not scoring much at all and playing for the second-straight night, plus Bernier only has three starts in 18 games this season, so he needs to start playing more, and this seems like a perfect opportunity to get him in. You just hope the team doesn’t come out flat for him, since they’re playing on back-to-back nights, and they have struggled in front of Bernier at times.
For the Ducks, it’s not yet known if they will make any changes, but last night’s roster that featured Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, Andrew Cogliano, Matt Beleskey, Andrew Gordon, Maxime Macenauer, Brandon McMillan, Devante Smith-Pelley, and Jean-Francois Jacques up front, and Luca Sbisa, Francois Beauchemin, Kurtis Foster, Cam Fowler, Toni Lydman, and Sheldon Brookbank on the blue line, isn’t expected to have many or any changes, considering the only available option is forward Ben Maxwell. Possibly forward Niklas Hagman will be available, and, if so, could be inserted into the lineup, but it’s not yet known if he will be ready to join his team in time for tonight’s game.
The only place where there’s a strong possibility for change for Anaheim is in goal, where despite how strong Hiller was yesterday, the Ducks are playing for the second time in as many nights and Hiller faced a heavy workload yesterday, so he may get the night off and we may see their backup goaltender, Dan Ellis.
So the struggles continue for the free-falling Ducks, but they’ll look to get revenge on the Kings tonight when they host the Kings at Honda Center at 10:00 PM ET/7:00 PM PT. Can the Kings sweep the home-and-home set with Anaheim, or will the Ducks even the score tonight?