<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - ]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/feature/freeway-face-off http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC4_40x125.png NBC Southern California http://www.nbclosangeles.com en-us Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:47:50 -0700 Fri, 22 Aug 2014 10:47:50 -0700 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Three Keys to a Los Angeles Kings Game 7 Win]]> Fri, 16 May 2014 13:32:05 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*131/kingsplayoffs-34.jpg

For the sixth time in the Stanley Cup playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings will face elimination when they battle the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 of the Freeway Face-Off on Friday night at Honda Center.

In the first five games, the Kings have managed to stave off elimination, outscoring the Ducks and the San Jose Sharks by a margin of 20-6 in those contests. Jonathan Quick has been off the charts good in those games as well, including a 39 save effort against the Sharks in Game 7 of their first round series.

The question, then, is how can the Kings make it a perfect 6-for-6 and eliminate the Ducks to set up a Western Conference Final rematch with the Chicago Blackhawks? Here are our Three Keys to victory for the Kings.

Jonathan Quick Must Be In Top Form

With that effort against the Sharks in his back pocket, Quick is surely confident heading into this game against the Ducks, and he should be. He has looked great in all five of the elimination games so far in these playoffs, making a slew of clutch saves and keeping a couple of quality offenses in check.

Against the Ducks in this game, Quick is going to have to continue that kind of clutch play. He has struggled at times during the playoffs, getting pulled earlier in this series in a Game 4 loss to Anaheim, but he seems to lock in when the pressure is at its highest. If he can do that again in this game, then the Kings will have a really good chance of winning.

Doughty Must Be Assertive on Offense

The Kings have gotten some great production out of their forwards in these playoffs, with Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik both having impressive postseasons thus far, but from the blue line, the Kings have been left wanting a bit.

Drew Doughty and Jake Muzzin have both been solid in the playoffs, with eight and seven points respectively, but the Ducks have done a nice job of keeping Doughty from asserting himself too much on the offensive side of things. He has had his moments of brilliance in the series, including an assist on the game-winning goal for the Kings in Game 1, but for the most part he has been held in check by a combination of point pressure by the Ducks and some great neutral zone work by the Anaheim forwards as Doughty tries to make his way up the ice.

Getting through that kind of concerted defensive effort is especially difficult for a blue liner, whose responsibilities cover far more than just moving the puck up the ice. Doughty will have to get creative in this one in order to alleviate some of the pressure, including using stretch passes and quick passes across the neutral zone to open teammates, and if he can do that, then he should open up a bit more ice for himself and get the Kings’ offense clicking in a more effective fashion.

Discipline a Must

The Kings surrendered six power play opportunities to the Sharks in Game 7, and even though they came out on top, the score easily could have gone the other way had San Jose’s potent man-advantage group would have been able to get churning.

Against the Ducks in this series, the Kings have been largely effective at times, but they’ve also had their fair share of lapses. The Ducks are 5-for-21 on the power play in this series, and that isn’t a number that inspires a ton of confidence for the Kings. Yes, they did go 5-for-5 in killing off penalties in their Game 6 win at Staples Center, but that isn’t exactly a recipe of success against a team that has been scoring quite a bit against them on the man-advantage in this series.

If the Kings give Anaheim six chances on the power play tonight, especially in a hostile environment, then they are going to be asking for trouble in a big way. Quick was excellent against the Sharks in Game 7 last round, but asking him to not only be great at even strength but also to be great under more significant duress may be asking a bit too much.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Three Keys for an Anaheim Ducks Game 7 Win ]]> Fri, 16 May 2014 13:31:08 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/167*120/489376413.jpg

The Anaheim Ducks had a golden opportunity to knock off the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday night, but thanks to an 0-for-5 performance on the power play and only putting 22 shots on goal, they dropped a 2-1 decision and put themselves in a do-or-die Game 7 situation on Friday night.

Fortunately for the Ducks, they are on home ice, but unfortunately for them, they are facing a team that is already 5-0 in elimination games in these playoffs, including a run of four consecutive victories over the San Jose Sharks to become only the fourth team in NHL history to advance when facing a 3-0 series deficit.

With that in mind, how can the Ducks finish off the pesky Kings and set up a Western Conference Final battle with the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks? We have our Three Keys to the game here:

Can John Gibson Stay Strong in Net?

When head coach Bruce Boudreau rolled the dice and put in John Gibson over Jonas Hiller in Game 4 of this series, his gamble paid immediate dividends. Gibson racked up 28 saves and picked up a shutout as the Ducks tied up the series at two games apiece, and critics everywhere lauded Boudreau for making the call to start the 20-year old rookie.

Unfortunately for the Ducks, the road hasn’t been quite as smooth in the ensuing games. They did win Game 5 of the series to take a 3-2 lead over Los Angeles, but Gibson was peppered with 42 shots on goal. In Game 6, the Kings ended up sneaking away with a 2-1 victory, but Gibson looked more pedestrian as he made 21 saves in the losing effort.

The question now with the series shifting back to Anaheim is this: can Gibson regain the form that he displayed earlier in the season and outperform Jonathan Quick? The answer to this question will go a long way toward determining who wins the series, but if the last few games are any indication, the answer is far from clear in either direction.

Depth Scoring, As Always, a Must

The Ducks have been scoring from all over their lineup so far in the playoffs, with guys like Kyle Palmieri and Devante Smith-Pelly both stepping up in a big way to complement Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in that department.

With the ability to dictate line matchups on home ice in Game 7, Boudreau and company have to be able to maneuver his lines in order to get favorable ice time for those type of players. The Kings will have to do everything in their power just to slow down Getzlaf and Perry, but if players like Palmieri, Smith-Pelly, and Patrick Maroon can come through in a big way, then that will put extra pressure on the Kings and likely give the Ducks a decided advantage in the contest.

Ducks Must Take Every Shot Opportunity

In the first three games in the series, the Ducks were racking up tons of shots on goal, with 72 in just the first two games, and even though they dropped both contests, they put a ton of pressure on Quick and company. In the last four games, the Ducks’ offense has ended up getting far fewer chances, with only 82 shots on goal in those contests. They are 3-1 over the past four games, but that isn’t a sustainable recipe for success for a team that thrives when they are dictating things on offense.

Shot quality is always an important component to games, but for the Ducks, quantity could be equally important on Friday night. Keeping Quick busy will not only help them to maintain control of the game, but it will also keep the pressure off of the Anaheim defense and goaltending. Doing that would be great for a rookie goaltender playing in his first NHL Game 7, and it will also open the door to the next round.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Force Game 7 With 2-1 Win]]> Wed, 14 May 2014 21:28:29 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/167*120/490639159.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings forced a Game 7 against the Anaheim Ducks with a 2-1 win at Staples Center on Wednesday night.

Kyle Palmieri's late goal brought the Anaheim Ducks back to within a goal, but Trevor Lewis' second period tally remained the difference.

As the game got underway, the Kings tried to establish themselves early on, and the intense pressure they applied to John Gibson finally yielded results about eight minutes into the contest.

On a perfect series of passes around the zone, Marian Gaborik fed a pass to Anze Kopitar in the slot. The Kings’ alternate captain then made a great backhanded pass to a pinching Jake Muzzin, who deposited the one-timer and gave his team a 1-0 lead.

The Kings continued to press the issue as the period wore on, getting a couple more quality chances from in close. Tanner Pearson had a good one as he deflected a shot from the point, but the puck rolled just wide of the net. A few minutes later, Gibson came charging out of the net to go after a loose puck, but he couldn’t quite reach it and Gaborik nearly made it a 2-0 game but couldn’t get the puck to settle down.

In the final few minutes of the period, the Ducks finally got a few chances to score, but the Kings’ defense played excellent hockey to end the frame. Slava Voynov made a great play as he bodied Daniel Winnik off the puck and forced his shot wide of the net, and as the horn sounded for the first intermission Los Angeles held a 1-0 lead.

The second period opened with the Ducks getting several good scoring opportunities, and as a result they got a couple of power plays. Unfortunately for Anaheim, they couldn’t take advantage of mistakes by Dwight King and Drew Doughty in the first 10 minutes of the frame, registering few quality scoring chances as the Kings continued to lead in the game.

That ineffective approach on the man-advantage ended up costing the Ducks with about five minutes remaining in the period as the Kings added an insurance goal to extend their lead. Justin Williams collected the puck in the defensive zone, and fired a perfect stretch pass up the ice to Trevor Lewis. The Kings forward barreled straight ahead towards the net, and his shot ended up squeezing in between Gibson’s leg pads to put the Kings up 2-0.

Just over a minute later, the Ducks finally got on the board. Kyle Palmieri had a great run up the ice as he got around the edge of the defense, and with Jeff Schultz in hot pursuit, the Ducks’ winger executed a gorgeous wraparound that beat Jonathan Quick back to the far post, and in the blink of an eye Anaheim only trailed by one goal.

Anze Kopitar had a nice play of his own a few minute later as he drove to the net, and he drew a penalty as a result. The Kings couldn’t quite take advantage of the power play, with Mike Richards getting the best chance as his shot from the slot skipped just wide of the post. As the period came to an end, Tyler Toffoli capped off another effective Kings possession as he blasted a shot just wide of the cage.

In the third period, the Ducks and Kings both got their fair share of opportunities, but neither team could convert in the opening minutes. Schultz made an excellent play at one end to deny Andrew Cogliano a chance on net, and at the other end, Jeff Carter blasted a shot past Gibson and off the post, much to the chagrin of the Staples Center crowd. 

After that sequence, the Kings ended up surrendering another power play to the Ducks as Gaborik was sent off the ice, but they were bailed out as Ryan Getzlaf was whistled for a slashing minor. Neither team could get their skates underneath them as the 4-on-4 time wound down, and the Kings maintained their lead. 

With about seven minutes remaining in the contest, the Ducks got another power play as Voynov was sent off. Corey Perry had a great chance from in close that was stopped by Quick, and then Cam Fowler blasted a slapshot in from the point that Quick gloved down. After those two failed chacnes, the Ducks couldn't seem to get out of their own way, picking up several offside violations and killing off the rest of the power play without any more chances. 

In the closing minutes of the game, the Ducks threw everything they could at Quick and company. Fortunately for the Los Angeles goaltender, his teammates stood tall and blocked several shots to preserve the victory. Jarret Stoll had a key block on an in close chance by Perry, and Fowler's shot ended up ricocheting just wide as the Kings tied up the series and forced a Game 7. 

The two teams will battle for the last time this postseason on Friday night as the Ducks host the Kings at Honda Center. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ducks vs. Kings: Game 6 Preview ]]> Thu, 15 May 2014 03:56:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/489335833.jpg

On Wednesday night, the Anaheim Ducks will have a chance to do what the San Jose Sharks failed to do in four opportunities in the first round: eliminate the Los Angeles Kings from the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Of course, doing so won’t be easy, as the Sharks found out. The Kings’ offense kicked into gear in a big way in their final four games against San Jose, outscoring the Sharks by a margin of 18-5 and advancing to the second round as only the fourth team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit to advance.

For the Ducks, beating the Kings will ensure that they will get to the Western Conference Final, where they would host the Chicago Blackhawks in the first two games of the series. They’ve been getting solid goaltending out of rookie John Gibson since head coach Bruce Boudreau put him in the lineup for Game 4 of the series at Staples Center, and with their myriad of scoring threats that includes stars and role players alike, the team is well-poised for a deep playoff run if they can get past the Kings.

Getting through this series is going to take a big time effort against a team that has played well when its back has been against the wall in this postseason. Part of the reason the Sharks struggled so badly against Los Angeles when they had a chance to put them away was that they kept giving the Kings’ power play opportunities to score. In the first two games of the series, the Sharks only allowed four power play opportunities for Los Angeles, but in the final five contests, they surrendered 20 opportunities, with the Kings scoring six times on the man-advantage.

The Kings also got some tremendous goaltending in those last few games, with Jonathan Quick picking up a shutout in Game 5 of the series and only allowing two goals combined in the remaining two games. He made 170 saves on 175 shots in those final four games, and even though he hasn’t exactly been in top form in this series, he seems to play better when his team’s backs are against the wall.

For the Ducks, the key to the game will be getting Quick out of his comfort zone early. In Game 4 of the series, the Ducks scored two early goals to get out in front, and they never looked back as they cruised to victory. Quick ended up being pulled from the game, and even though Martin Jones was able to keep Anaheim from scoring again, the Kings never quite recovered from the early punches.

Getting a lead early is going to be a key against the Kings because of the way they have come from behind in this series. In Game 1, the Kings scored a late goal to tie things up, and Marian Gaborik ended up winning the contest in overtime with his second goal of the night. The Kings nearly tied things up in Anaheim on Monday night as well, and only a couple of key saves by Gibson late kept the Ducks in front.

With the Ducks likely looking to gain the lead early, the Kings have to come out and play with a sense of urgency from the puck drop. They have gotten away with not doing so in the past, including allowing 17 shots to the Sharks in the first period of their Game 4 matchup in the first round, but trying to come from behind against a Ducks team that is brimming with confidence is a recipe for disaster for Darryl Sutter’s team.

Whichever team ends up gaining the upper hand early in the contest has a great chance to win, and both teams have serious motivation to do so (and to avoid allowing the opponent to grab momentum). The Kings have been in this position several times already in the playoffs, but the Ducks have also shown that they can finish off an opponent as they did by scoring two late goals and an overtime tally to eliminate the Dallas Stars on the road in the first round.

If the first five games of the series are any indication, then fans should be in for another hard-fought, tightly contested game, and either team could emerge victorious from Staples Center.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ducks Beat Kings in Game 5]]> Mon, 12 May 2014 22:06:31 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/175*120/rsz_duckskings.jpg

The Anaheim Ducks pushed the Los Angeles Kings to the brink of elimination with a 4-3 win in Game 5 on Monday.

The Ducks lead the best-of-seven series, 3-2.

The fans at Honda Center had barely had time to settle into their seats when the home side drew first blood in the contest. On a great feed from Daniel Winnik, Nick Bonino grabbed the puck and fired home a shot in between Jonathan Quick’s leg pads, and just over two minutes into the game the Ducks already had a 1-0 lead.

The Ducks got a few more good chances on net as they continued their early push, but Drew Doughty and Quick both made some great plays to keep the deficit at one. Corey Perry broke into the zone on a breakaway for the Ducks, but Doughty made an excellent move laterally as he cut off Perry’s lane and forced him to take a contested shot. Jakub Silfverberg had a chance of his own a few seconds later, but Quick was able to fight it off.

Near the halfway point of the first period, the Kings tied things up. The Ducks turned the puck over in the neutral zone after a couple of big hits by Los Angeles defenseman Matt Greene, and eventually Justin Williams pushed the puck up to Trevor Lewis. On the rush, Lewis ripped a shot between Bryan Allen’s legs and past John Gibson’s glove to tie things up at 1-1.

As the period wore on, the Ducks continued to put a ton of pressure on Quick and company. Silfverberg attempted a wraparound shot, but it slid through the crease and past the waiting sticks of Saku Koivu and Andrew Cogliano. Teemu Selanne also got in on the act, picking up a rebound just outside of the blue paint, but Quick was there to make the save. Finally, Pat Maroon had a good chance on a late power play for Anaheim, but he couldn’t get it to go, and the period ended with the score still tied.

After starting the first period on fire, the Ducks came out and immediately started pounding away once again. With an early power play in the frame, Francois Beauchemin blasted a stretch pass down the ice that bounced off the back boards. Selanne picked up the puck, skated around the back of the cage, and slid a pass across the crease to a waiting Mathieu Perreault, who popped home the one-timer to make it a 2-1 game in favor of the Ducks.

Just over a minute later, the Ducks scored again. After Ryan Getzlaf picked off an errant pass from Alec Martinez in the neutral zone, the Anaheim captain skated it into the offensive zone on a 2-on-1 rush, and slid a pass across the ice to Devante Smith-Pelly. The Ducks forward deked past Quick and deposited the puck into the net for his fourth goal of the playoffs, and in the blink of an eye Anaheim extended their lead to two goals.

Less than six minutes later, the Ducks continued to ride the wave of momentum and scored another goal to make it a three tally advantage. This time, it was Cogliano doing the hard work, firing in a shot on goal that was pounded home by Silfverberg in front, and the Kings were knocked even further back on their heels as they trailed 4-1.

Toward the end of the period, the Kings finally started to get some chances, with Anze Kopitar getting back to back shots at the end of a power play, but Gibson made both saves. Los Angeles didn’t stop pressing the issue however, and after picking up a four minute power play thanks to a Smith-Pelly penalty, they finally stopped the bleeding. On a sliding puck across the ice that Ben Lovejoy whiffed on, Marian Gaborik collected a pass from Jake Muzzin and blasted a slap shot past Gibson to make it a 4-2 game before the second period horn sounded.

 As the third period got underway, the Kings tried feverishly to cut into Anaheim's lead, but penalties kept killing off their momentum. Matching minors occurred twice during the first 10 minutes of the frame, and even though the Kings led in shots on goal by a significant amount, they couldn't quite get back in the game. 

With six minutes left, the Kings finally scored to pull within a goal. Kopitar made a tremendous play along the boards to win the puck, and he passed across the ice to Dustin Brown. Brown then took a backhand shot toward the net, and when Gaborik got his stick blade on it, the shot deflected past Gibson's left pad, and the Kings only trailed by one goal at 4-3. 

In the closing minutes of the game, the Kings had several more chances to tie things up, but they were barely stopped at every turn. Slava Voynov had a good chance to score from the slot, but Gibson made the save. The puck barely skipped past Gaborik's stick near the crease, and the Ducks were able to clear. 

Jeff Carter also had a great chance when he fired in a slap shot on goal, but Gibson kicked the rebound out just far enough that Toffoli couldn't quite reach it, and when Dustin Brown's slapshot skipped wide and rolled all the way down the ice, Anaheim closed out the game and brought themselves to within a game of the Western Conference Final. 

The two teams will battle again on Wednesday night as the scene shifts back to Staples Center. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm Pacific time, and the game can be seen on NBCSN. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Goalie Gamble Pays Off in Ducks Win]]> Sun, 11 May 2014 03:56:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/167*120/489376413.jpg

The Anaheim Ducks had a chance to tie up their series with the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night, but they were going to be forced to do so without one of their key pieces, as goaltender Frederik Andersen was scratched from the game because of a lower body injury he sustained in the third period of Anaheim’s Game 3 victory at Staples Center.

In a move that was surprising to a lot of experts and fans, Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau rolled the dice and started rookie goaltender John Gibson in the game over established veteran Jonas Hiller, who had started the first two games of the series. Gibson burst onto the scene well for the Ducks in his regular season debut, picking up a shutout in his first game, but with his most recent experience taking place at the AHL level, it was hard to predict how he would fare in his first NHL playoff game.

In the first period of the game, Gibson answered that question rather emphatically. Kings defenseman Alec Martinez tested the youngster early with a shot from the point that was well-screened by traffic in front of the cage. Gibson managed to catch sight of the puck just in time, and pushed it aside with ease. A little bit later, Gibson faced down the downright dangerous Marian Gaborik on a 2-on-1 rush, and when Gaborik rifled a wrist shot in on net, the 20-year old netminder managed to get his glove on the shot to keep the game scoreless.

After his team staked him to a 2-0 lead, Gibson continued to stand on his head for the team. After making yet another save on a wicked wrister from Gaborik, the goaltender made a couple of key saves a few minutes later. Jake Muzzin blasted a slapshot from near the blue line with traffic in front, and Gibson made the stop. After Jarret Stoll barely missed a shot on the doorstep, Justin Williams got a chance of his own from within 15 feet, but Gibson made another stop to preserve the lead.

That sequence was one of several in the second period in which Gibson had to be in top form. The Ducks didn’t manage a single shot on goal in the frame, but the Kings kept pounding away and eventually racked up 12 of them. Plays by Ryan Getzlaf, who blocked a shot attempt from Drew Doughty in the goal crease during a mad scramble, certainly helped Gibson out, but ultimately his play in that period saved his team from disaster as passivity ended up taking over their game on the offensive side of things.

In the third period, the Kings didn’t get quite as many chances, but Gibson continued to stand strong, making seven saves to preserve the shutout and to make a bit of NHL history. From Jeff Veillette of Leafs Nation:

Going into this game, there may have been a ton of questions about whether or not Boudreau made the right decision to keep Hiller in a backup role even with Andersen out, but Gibson answered the challenge in the biggest way possible. Without his stellar play, the Ducks would have been in serious danger of going down 3-1 in this series, and even though he may not get another start depending on whether or not Andersen is healthy for the next game, he has made one of the biggest impacts in a game of any Ducks player in this postseason run.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Doughty's Point Drought Hampering Kings' Offense]]> Tue, 13 May 2014 13:02:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/487686723.jpg

While home-ice advantage is generally a big factor in playoff series, the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks are turning that long-held bit of hockey wisdom on its ear.

In the first four games of the series, neither team has won on home ice, and with the series shifting back to Honda Center on Monday night, there’s no way of knowing whether that trend will continue, or if the Ducks will end up taking advantage of being on home ice as they try to grab control of the series.

For the Kings, there are plenty of factors that have contributed to their recent struggles against the Ducks, but one of the most glaring has been the play of defenseman Drew Doughty. Normally one of the key cogs in the team’s offense, Doughty had a great series against the San Jose Sharks in the first round. He picked up a goal and six assists in the series, and in the Kings’ epic comeback performance, he scored a goal and added three assists over the final four games.

In Game 1 against the Ducks, Doughty was largely held in check by Anaheim throughout the game, but he stepped up offensively when he was needed the most. It was Doughty that won the critical puck battle along the boards that set up Anze Kopitar to make the game-winning pass, finding Marian Gaborik near the net for the goal that put Los Angeles up 1-0 in the Freeway Face-Off.

After that assist however, Doughty’s production has dried up in these playoffs. Over the past three games, Doughty has zero points, just two shots on goal, and is carrying an even plus-minus rating in those contests. He has still been averaging a good amount of ice time per game, having played 25 minutes or more in all three games, but his offensive struggles have coincided with a power outage for the Kings in that regard as they scored only two goals in two home games at Staples Center.

So far in the playoffs, the Kings are 4-2 when Doughty picks up at least a point in a game, but they are 2-3 when he is held off the scoresheet. Obviously it’s a very small sample size to draw from, but it isn’t a stretch to say that the Kings are better off when the defenseman is engaged in the offensive gameplan. He is one of the team’s primary puck movers as they try to make their way through the neutral zone, and his speed keeps teams off-balance as he approaches the blue line. That uncertainty of how to defend him makes him a valuable asset, and Doughty needs to regain that confidence if the Kings are going to bounce back in this series.

It’s not going to be easy to get Doughty favorable matchups, with the Ducks having the benefit of last line change as the home team on Monday night, but if Darryl Sutter gets an opening to deploy Doughty against weak defensive forwards, he has to take advantage in order for the Kings’ offense to get clicking again.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ducks Shut Out Kings 2-0 to Tie Series]]> Sat, 10 May 2014 21:25:47 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/489334375.jpg

Riding the momentum of a 28-save performance by rookie goaltender John Gibson, the Anaheim Ducks beat the Los Angeles Kings 2-0 to tie their Stanley Cup Playoff series at two games apiece. 

Devante Smith-Pelly and Ryan Getzlaf picked up goals for the Ducks and chased Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick from the game after the first period. 

Bruce Boudreau’s decision to start Gibson looked like a brilliant move from the word go in the game, as the Kings set to work testing the goaltender early. Alec Martinez rifled in a shot from the point with traffic in front of the cage, but Gibson was somehow able to fight the shot off. A little bit later, Marian Gaborik came down the ice on a 2-on-1 rush, and his quick shot was gloved away by Gibson to keep the game scoreless.

The Ducks had their fair share of chances early on too, and most of them came from an unexpected play. Smith-Pelly had a great chance just in front of Jonathan Quick, but the Kings’ goaltender was able to stop it. The Kings failed to clear the zone, and eventually the puck worked its way to Kyle Palmieri, but he too was denied as Quick stopped a wrist shot from the face-off circle.

After their second straight failed power play, the Kings let down their guard for a few moments, and the Ducks took advantage in scoring the first goal of the game. After a shot from the point caromed off the back boards, Corey Perry picked up the puck and made a nifty play to slip a pass between his skates back toward the goal crease. Smith-Pelly picked up the puck and flipped it past Quick to give his team a 1-0 lead with about four minutes remaining in the period.

The Ducks continued to tighten their grip on the momentum of the game with a late power play toward the end of the first, and they took advantage with an insurance goal. This time, it was Ryan Getzlaf doing the hard work for the Ducks, driving behind the net after Quick made a save, and when he pushed a shot back toward the crease, the shot ended up bouncing off of Martinez’s skate and into the Kings’ net, giving Anaheim a two goal advantage just before the end of the period.

When the teams skated onto the ice for the second period, Quick was seated on the bench with a baseball cap on his head, and Martin Jones was between the pipes for the Kings. Los Angeles seemed to respond well to the attempt by Darryl Sutter to shake things up, getting a nice scoring chance from Anze Kopitar early in the period. Fortunately for Anaheim, Gibson and Cam Fowler combined to make a nice defensive play to prevent a goal.

The Kings continued to press the issue in the ensuing minutes, with several more players coming close to bringing the team to within a goal. Gaborik had another excellent shot on the rush after kicking the puck to his forehand side, but Gibson was able to find the shot through a screen and pushed it away. In another sequence, the Kings were crashing the net, and after Gibson made a save, Getzlaf was forced to stop a puck with his leg in the crease to keep his team ahead by two goals.

The second half of the period saw more of the same, with the Kings dominating in chances and Gibson and company stopping all of them. Los Angeles even got a power play, but in spite of that and of outshooting the Ducks by a 12-0 margin in the period, the Kings couldn’t pull any closer as the score remained 2-0 through two periods.

As the third period got underway, the Kings continued to push the tempo on offense, but the Ducks' defense looked a lot more comfortable than they had in the second period. Scoring chances came few and far between, but the Kings' attempt at a rally was dealt a big blow when Kopitar was sent to the penalty box for four minutes for high-sticking Andrew Cogliano. The Kings killed off the penalty without a lot of fuss, but those four minutes off the clock put a serious strain on their chances of winning the game. 

The Kings got a chance for redemption with a power play of their own with about eight minutes to go in the game. Despite a possession that lasted over a minute, they still couldn't put the puck in the net, as their insistence on passing and waiting for an open lane ended up costing them the chance to put pucks on goal. Getzlaf made a couple of big plays, including a shot block without a stick to keep the Kings off the board. 

In the game's closing minutes, the Kings pulled their goaltender, but the Ducks' defense really held firm as the seconds wound down. They pushed every opportunity to the edges of the ice and clogged up the middle of the offensive zone, and Gibson was largely untested as the period ended and the Ducks tied the series up. 

The scene will shift back to the Honda Center on Monday night when these two teams will battle for the upper-hand in the series. Puck drop is scheduled for 7pm Pacific time, and the game can be seen on NBCSN. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Perry Breaks Out as Ducks Sneak Past Kings]]> Fri, 09 May 2014 10:29:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/488865803.jpg

The Anaheim Ducks are a team that hadn’t exactly gotten the best production out of anybody during their first two games against the Los Angeles Kings in the second round of the playoffs. They had only scored three goals, and they had dropped both games at home to fall behind 2-0 in the series as it shifted to the Kings' home rink.

Most egregious of the offenders in that regard was Corey Perry. In the first two games of the series, the sniper had zero points, a minus-2 rating, and seven shots on goal. Compare that to the two goals and five assists that he had during the six game series triumph over the Dallas Stars, and it’s pretty clear that a big component of the Anaheim offense had gone silent.

Fortunately for the Ducks, their primary goal scorer seemingly came back from the dead as the team battled to get back into their series on Thursday night. Just four minutes into the game, the Ducks picked up an early power play thanks to a silly penalty by Trevor Lewis, and the team took full advantage.

The Ducks’ power play unit came on the ice and immediately started moving the puck crisply around the ice, and eventually it founds its way onto Ryan Getzlaf’s stick. Seeing Patrick Maroon camped out at the top of the crease, he whipped a pass down the ice to him, and Perry immediately made a beeline for the front of the net. Maroon made a nifty little move to move the puck across and dished a pass to Perry, who one-timed a shot past Jonathan Quick to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead.

The goal was important for a myriad of reasons, not the least of which because it gave the Ducks some tangible momentum. Moving the puck around that effectively energizes the team doing it and demoralizes the one that is watching helplessly as they can’t prevent passes from finding their targets, and the Ducks showed incredible chemistry on the play.

Just as importantly though, it showed the power of doing the little things correctly on a power play. Having a guy like Maroon camped out in front of the net is precisely what is needed to throw any goaltender off their game, and he got inside positioning and held it long enough to get a pass fired his way from Getzlaf. Perry’s anticipation also made the play happen as he saw the events unfold in front of him, and his decisiveness on the play got him the goal and his team the lead.

There was naturally still a lot of game to be played, and the Kings did make it close at the end (although what could have been the game-tying goal was thwarted by Ben Lovejoy’s critical insurance goal with less than three minutes remaining in the contest), but ultimately it was the Ducks that were able to cash in on more of their scoring opportunities.

Yes, there was some bad news mixed in too, as Frederik Andersen and Matt Beleskey both went down with lower body injuries. Those injuries, which are both listed as day-to-day, could hinder the Ducks as they try to tie things back up on Saturday night, but the ultimate takeaway from Game 3 for this team is that Perry looked like his old self in this one, and the Ducks will need him to be that if they are going to win three more games and advance to the Western Conference Final.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ducks Climb Back Into Series, Knock Off Kings 3-2]]> Thu, 08 May 2014 22:35:22 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/duckskingsmay82014+copy.jpg

The Anaheim Ducks didn't look great in their first two games against the Los Angeles Kings, but thanks to power play goals from Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne, they were able to hold on and beat the Kings by a 3-2 margin on Thursday night at Staples Center. 

Ben Lovejoy added a critical insurance goal late in the third period to seal the victory for the Ducks as they climbed back into the best-of-seven series. Jeff Carter scored a power play goal for the Kings in the second period, and Mike Richards added a goal with 30 seconds left to make things a lot more interesting. 

Early in the first period, the Ducks got the benefit of a power play just a few minutes into the game, and they took full advantage. After some nice puck movement, Ryan Getzlaf fired a pass toward the net that Patrick Maroon grabbed. With a nifty backhand pass, Maroon pushed the puck over to Perry, who one-timed the shot past Jonathan Quick to make it a 1-0 Anaheim lead. 

After that goal, the game took on a bit more of a physical tone, as it has through much of the series, with Justin Williams and Devante Smith-Pelly each being sent off for two minutes for roughing. In the ensuing 4-on-4 time, neither team was able to get much going on offense, with Lovejoy getting the only shot on goal of the two minute sequence. Quick made the stop, and kept the Kings within a goal. 

In the closing minutes of the period, it seemed as though both teams started to focus more on offense, but it was the Ducks' offense that generated just a few more chances. Andrew Cogliano had the best of the bunch when he had a wraparound attempt against Quick, but the goaltender was up to the task as he chipped the shot away with his stick to keep the score at 1-0 after a period. 

Just a few minutes into the second period, the Kings got a power play thanks to a Smith-Pelly high-sticking minor, and they took advantage in short order. Anze Kopitar pushed a pass to the goal line, and Marian Gaborik quickly fired a snap pass to Carter in the slot, and the Kings' sniper didn't miss on the ensuing one-timer as he fired a shot past Frederik Andersen to tie the game at 1-1. 

After the goal, the Kings kept pressing, and they eventually got a really nice chance by Dwight King, as he fired a shot in toward Andersen. Tyler Toffoli ended up getting a piece of it, but Andersen was up to the challenge as he sprawled out to make a save. The Kings continued to throw their weight around with some good hits, and for a while they had the Ducks reeling. 

As the period wore on, things began to even back out, and eventually the Ducks got a 4-on-3 power play. They picked up several great opportunities in that sequence, with Getzlaf flipping a great shot in on Quick that the goaltender scrambled to save. Sami Vatanen also had a great chance with a wide open cage, but he fired the shot just wide from the slot. 

Finally, with only a few seconds remaining on the power play, the Ducks were able to take the lead. A bad defensive breakdown by the Kings left the Ducks with a 2-on-1 rush, and Nick Bonino fed a pass across the zone to Selanne, who tapped in the one-timer to give his team a 2-1 lead. 

The end of the second period saw more hard-hitting action than actual shots on goal, with the Kings racking up six hits in the final five minutes of the frame. None of those hits really led to anything substantial offensively for the Kings, and the Ducks retained their one goal lead through two frames. 

As the third period got started, the Kings came out of the gate strong as they tried to tie the game up. Toffoli had a tip-in attempt on a shot from the point, but his attempt barely skipped wide of the net. Then after a couple of bad giveaways by the Ducks and a nice long posssession, Jeff Schultz blasted a shot in on goal from the slot, but Andersen made the save to keep the game at 2-1. 

In the middle stages of the frame, the Kings had a few more good opportunities, but the Ducks escaped unscathed. After a shot from the point was blocked, Richards fed a pass across the crease to Slava Voynov, whose backhanded attempt just missed the near post and grazed off the side of the net. A little bit later in that Kings' possession, Andersen came up lame with a lower body injury, and he was removed from the game with Jonas Hiller coming on to take his place. 

The Kings continued to get some good chances, but despite their best efforts, they couldn't tie things up, and their inability to take advantage of opportunities came back to haunt them. On a line change in the neutral zone, the Ducks were able to push up the ice with a 2-on-1 rush, and eventually Cogliano fed a pass across to Lovejoy, who snapped off a wicked wrist shot that beat Quick glove side to make it a 3-1 game with less than three minutes remaining. 

The Ducks nearly made it 4-1 with about a minute remaining in the game, but Perry's stick ended up breaking with the empty net staring at him, and the Kings promptly came back down the ice and scored. After a mad netfront scramble off a shot from the point, Richards was able to pop the goal in to make it 3-2 with about 31 seconds remaining. 

Unfortunately for the Kings, that was all the scoring they could muster, as Kopitar lost two straight face-offs to Saku Koivu and Getzlaf, and the Ducks ran out the clock to finish off a very important victory in the series. 

The two teams will do battle at Staples Center again on Saturday night, with puck drop scheduled for 6:30pm Pacific time. 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Beat Ducks 3-1 in Game 2]]> Tue, 06 May 2014 11:37:28 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/164*120/488373683.jpg

Marian Gaborik scored just 34 seconds into the game, and Alec Martinez picked up a goal of his own as the Los Angeles Kings stunned the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 3-1 on Monday night, taking a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Jonathan Quick had a great night in goal for the Kings, stopping 35 shots and seemingly doing so with ease. The Ducks did get a goal from Patrick Maroon, but it wasn’t enough as they lost their second straight game and put themselves in a huge hole as they prepare to head to Los Angeles for Game 3 of the series.

Unlike Game 1, which saw a lot of defense and not many shots on goal in the early going, Game 2 started out with a bang as the Kings took the lead just 34 seconds into the contest. On the play, Anaheim defenseman Ben Lovejoy drifted too far out to the center of the ice on a 3-on-2 rush by the Kings, and Anze Kopitar found Gaborik wide open. Gaborik ended up deking out Hiller and scored to make it 1-0 Kings.

The Kings seemed to gain a lot of momentum off of that play, and they nearly extended their lead just a few moments later. Hiller had to scramble around the crease to make a couple of key saves, with the biggest one coming as Tanner Pearson fired a shot that deflected off of Jakub Silfverberg’s stick.

After surviving that onslaught, the Ducks finally turned up the offensive pressure, and on a 4-on-3 power play, they were able to score to tie things up. Left wide open in front of the net, Patrick Maroon turned around with the puck and tried to put a pass across the crease to Corey Perry. The pass was inadvertently deflected into the net by Jake Muzzin’s skate, tying the game at 1-1.

The Kings didn’t let the game remain tied for long however, and they scored yet again to take the lead back. This time, it was Alec Martinez scoring his second goal of the series, blasting a shot from the point that ricocheted off of Silfverberg’s leg and floated past Hiller to make it a 2-1 game.

Neither team was able to add anything to their goal total through the end of the first period, but the second period saw a slew of chances for both sides. The Ducks got an early power play after Quick punched Perry in a scrum in the Los Angeles crease, but despite some good puck movement, they weren’t able to put the puck in the net. Maroon ended up negating the remainder of the power play as he slashed Quick to try to force the puck loose, but the Kings couldn’t take advantage of their own power play as the Ducks’ defense really tightened its grip on the proceedings.

In the second half of the period, the Kings picked up a couple of power play opportunities, but they weren’t able to convert on either of them before the final whistle. As the third got underway, the Kings continued on the man-advantage thanks to a penalty by Matt Beleskey, but it was the Ducks that ended up getting the best scoring chances. Fortunately for Los Angeles, Quick was more than up to the task as he made a couple of key saves to keep his team in front.

The Ducks kept pressing even after they had successfully killed off the penalty, but they weren’t able to capitalize on a holding penalty on Slava Voynov. Teemu Selanne had the best opportunity on the power play as he fired in a shot from the goal line along the boards, but Quick got some help from his teammates as they cleared the crease before the Ducks’ forwards could jump in.

The rest of the period played out in much the same way as the rest of the game had, with the Ducks getting the lion’s share of the chances, but most of the chances were one-and-done affairs. Trying to spark his team, Bruce Boudreau pulled Hiller in the closing minutes to tie the game, but the Kings ended up taking advantage with an empty net goal to put the game away. Justin Williams made a nice diving play to push the puck out of the defensive zone and up to center ice, and Dwight King did the rest as he fired a shot home to give the Kings a 2-0 lead in the series.

Anaheim will look to try to get back in the series when it resumes on Thursday night at Staples Center. The game starts at 7pm Pacific time.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings vs. Ducks: Keys to Victory for the Kings ]]> Sat, 03 May 2014 12:12:03 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/487260271.jpg

Following a series in which they triumphed after being written off by nearly everyone in the hockey universe, the Los Angeles Kings will be looking to continue their remarkable run through the Stanley Cup playoffs as they tangle with the Anaheim Ducks in a postseason series for the first time in team history.

The Kings’ remarkable turnaround in the first round series, in which they trailed 3-0 against the San Jose Sharks, was the result of several factors. The first and most important factor in that reversal of fortune was the fact that the team’s offensive stars really got into a groove during the final four games of the series. Anze Kopitar led the way by racking up 10 points overall in the series, and players like Justin Williams, who scored two goals in Game 6, and Tyler Toffoli, who scored a key goal in Game 4 and gave the Kings a critical insurance goal in the third period of Game 7, also chipped in for the massive effort.

The goaltending that the Kings got from Jonathan Quick also helped calm things down for the team. Just like he did during the 2012 Stanley Cup run, the American-born goaltender made every key save imaginable during the four-game winning streak that propelled the Kings into the second round, making 130 saves and only allowing five goals in four games as his Kings team made history.

Another crucial component to the turnaround was the team’s ability to capitalize on the mistakes that the Sharks made. In the series, the Kings racked up an impressive 25% success rate on the power play, scoring at least one power play goal in each of the final five games of the series. They also clamped down in a big way on the penalty kill after some early struggles against the speedy Sharks, killing off the last 15 power plays they faced and finishing with a respectable 87.5% success rate in those situations.

In order for the Kings to succeed against the Ducks, they are going to need to continue to get that kind of quality play from their special teams unit and from Quick in net. They are also going to require some increased scoring punch from a couple of their key players. Jeff Carter, who posted a respectable six points in seven games against the Sharks, only put the puck in the net twice, and that number has to go up against an Anaheim team that is capable of scoring in bunches. Outside of Marian Gaborik, Carter is arguably the key guy in terms of scoring goals for this team, and he is going to have to work hard to find open ice against an aggressive Ducks defense.

Another player that is going to be key for the Kings in that regard is Mike Richards. During the regular season, Richards was the fourth-leading points producer for Los Angeles, with 11 goals and 30 assists to his credit. During the playoffs however, his production dipped considerably as he only had one assist in the series against San Jose. He did have eight shots on goal in 15:20 of ice time in Game 7 after playing just under 12 minutes in Game 6, so there could be signs of life for a player that the Kings need to be in top form to beat the Ducks.

This series is a toss-up in the minds of many hockey observers, and rightfully so. Both teams are well-coached and are evenly matched in just about every area of the ice. The series will ultimately come down to special teams and goaltending, and if the Kings can continue to play as well as they have recently in those two areas, then they will have a very good chance of getting to the Western Conference Final for the third consecutive season.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings vs. Ducks: Keys to an Anaheim Series Win ]]> Sun, 04 May 2014 03:56:54 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/485547261.jpg

On Saturday night, history will be made in Southern California as the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks battle at the Honda Center in Game 1 of the first playoff series ever contested between the two teams.

For the Ducks, they will be looking at building off of the momentum generated when they stunned the Dallas Stars in a 5-4 overtime victory to finish off their first round series, and they will also be looking to answer some big questions as they take on a Kings team with an equal amount of wind in their sails.

For starters, the Ducks haven’t fully committed to a starting goaltender just yet. Frederik Andersen played the vast majority of their series against the Stars, but he was pulled during the Game 6 victory after surrendering four goals. Jonas Hiller came in the game and slammed the door for the rest of the game, picking up the win and causing head coach Bruce Boudreau to ponder what he wanted to do about his newfound netminder problem.

Outside of uncertainty in the crease, the Ducks have quite a few things working in their favor. For starters, captain Ryan Getzlaf, recently nominated for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP, came back strong from an injury that kept him out of Game 4 of the Dallas series to rack up a team high seven points in the first round triumph. Nick Bonino has also found his scoring touch in a big way, scoring three goals in the previous series to lead the team in that category.

Bonino is just one of the many Ducks players who are lending a helping hand to their incredibly balanced scoring attack. 13 different Ducks players scored a goal in the Dallas series, and several unexpected names were able to light the lamp on more than one occasion. Devante Smith-Pelly heads that list, as he scored twice in Game 6, including the game-tying goal with just 24 seconds remaining. Center Mathieu Perreault also got in on the action, scoring two power play markers in the series to help out on special teams.

Perhaps most importantly of all, the Ducks’ special teams units have been playing at a high level during the postseason’s early weeks. Their power play racked up seven goals during their series against the Stars, including three in a key Game 5 victory that gave them a pivotal 3-2 edge in the series. Their 26.9% success rate has got to be a source of pride for the team, as does their 89.7% success rate on the penalty kill. With skilled defenders like Francois Beauchemin and gritty forwards who are capable of pressuring puck-handlers all over the ice, the Ducks are in prime position to slow down a Kings’ attack that really got going in a big way against the Sharks.

Keeping the special teams churning and making sure that they continue to get depth scoring are both going to be crucial for the Ducks if they are going to be able to take down the experience-laden Kings in this series. Los Angeles has the goaltending and the veteran savvy to take down any playoff series, and even though the Ducks had a great deal of regular season success against their neighbors at Staples Center, it’s going to take a lot of hard work to knock them off and advance to the Western Conference Final.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Ducks, Kings to Face Off in Playoffs for First Time]]> Thu, 01 May 2014 09:30:42 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/464730255.jpg

It seems preposterous to think that with all of the success that the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings have had in the playoffs in recent years that they have never faced each other in the postseason, but the second round series between the two rivals will indeed mark the first time that they have battled in the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

The series, in which the Ducks will have home ice advantage, will feature two teams that both finished off their playoff series with a bang. The Ducks made a furious comeback in a Game 6 triumph over the Dallas Stars, scoring two late goals in the closing minutes and then netting the overtime winner to clinch their series victory. 

As for the Kings, they too made a ridiculous comeback to get to this point, winning their last four games against the San Jose Sharks to become just the fourth team in NHL history to overcome a 3-0 series deficit to win. Their goal scoring has picked up in recent games, and Jonathan Quick has also been in top form, including a 39 save effort to eliminate the Sharks on Wednesday. 

This season, the Ducks have had the upper hand over their Los Angeles-area rivals in the head-to-head series. They went 4-0-1 against the Kings in five games, including a 3-0 shutout victory in the Stadium Series game between the two clubs at Dodger Stadium. There aren't any outdoor games on the docket for this particular series, but the hype surrounding it will undoubtedly be similar in tone as the teams battle for a berth in the Western Conference Final. 

At first glance, a lot of factors are working in favor of the Ducks. They have had the Kings' number so far this season with those four wins in five games (and their only loss came in a shootout in the first meeting of the season), and they have outscored Los Angeles by a margin of 12-7 in those games. They also are going to have home ice advantage, which is big because of the success that the Ducks have had at the Honda Center this season. They went a perfect 3-for-3 in wins on home ice against the Stars, and during the regular season the Ducks won 29 games on home ice. 

There are some things that work in favor of the Kings. Like the Ducks, the Sharks had won 29 games at home during the regular season, but that didn't stop the Kings from grabbing two victories at SAP Center in elimination games. The Kings will also have a great deal of momentum coming into the first game of the series, as they already have won four consecutive do-or-die games, whereas the Ducks have gotten to relax a bit after their win over the Stars on Monday night. 

Whichever way this series ends up turning out, it has the potential to be a watershed moment in the history of hockey in Southern California. Both teams have won Stanley Cup championships, but both have legitimate aspirations of becoming the first team from a non-traditional market to ever win multiple titles. The Stars have only won once. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes each have one championship apiece. If the Ducks or Kings can go all the way and hoist the Stanley Cup, they would make some serious history. 

Here is the TV schedule for the Ducks/Kings series (all times Pacific): 

Saturday, May 3rd: 5pm Los Angeles at Anaheim, NBCSN 

Monday, May 5th: 7pm Los Angeles at Anaheim, NBCSN 

Thursday, May 8th: 7pm Anaheim at Los Angeles, NBCSN 

Saturday, May 10th: TBD Anaheim at Los Angeles, TBD

Monday, May 12th: TBD Los Angeles at Anaheim, TBD 

Wednesday, May 14th: TBD Anaheim at Los Angeles, TBD 

Friday, May 16th: TBD Los Angeles at Anaheim, TBD 

*If necessary 

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kings Cap Historic Comeback in Game 7 Against Sharks]]> Thu, 01 May 2014 09:30:41 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/174*120/485845169_8.jpg

The Los Angeles Kings beat the San Jose Sharks in Game 7, becoming the fourth team in NHL history to come back from an 0-3 deficit to win a best-of-seven series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With the 5-1 win on Wednesday, the Kings advanced to face the Anaheim Ducks, the first time the two Southern California teams have ever met in the postseason.

Even when they found themselves in a 3-0 series deficit to San Jose, the Kings never doubted they had what it takes to mount a memorable comeback.

That's what winning a Stanley Cup together two years earlier can do for a team's confidence and that's how a lack of postseason success can eat away at another's psyche.

Anze Kopitar scored the tiebreaking goal late in the second period and Jonathan Quick made 39 saves to cap the Kings' historic comeback in their first-round series.

"When you've gone to the top of the mountain with the same group of guys it's a little bit easier when you're at the bottom to come up," said captain Dustin Brown, who scored an empty-net goal to seal the game. "That's what a lot of this team is about, our guys who have stuck together and played together for years."

The Kings joined Toronto (1942), the New York Islanders (1975) and Philadelphia (2010) as the only teams to complete that comeback and now will get another California showdown in the second-round with the first Freeway Playoff against the Anaheim Ducks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Game 6 Win Shows Ducks Are Serious Contenders]]> Sun, 11 May 2014 19:13:40 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/487137735.jpg

With two and a half minutes to go in their Game 6 battle against the Anaheim Ducks, everything seemed to be working out in the favor of the Dallas Stars. The raucous crowd in their home building was at full throat. They had a 4-2 lead and had chased Frederik Andersen from the Ducks' net. They had an empty net to shoot at down at the other end of the ice.

Then, it all came crashing down around them.

After getting a feed from behind the net from Corey Perry, Nick Bonino lifted a gorgeous shot top shelf to make it a 4-3 game. With less than 30 seconds to go in the game, the Ducks tied things up, as an insane netfront scramble finally resulted in Devante Smith-Pelly flipping home a loose puck and tying things up at 4-4.

In the ensuing overtime period, the Ducks ended things just as quickly when they scored a goal less than three minutes in. Once again, it was Bonino doing the dirty work, firing a shot past Kari Lehtonen to win the series and prevent the Ducks from having to try to win another Game 7 at the Honda Center on Tuesday.

As the smoke cleared at the American Airlines Center, the Stars and their fans were left with one question: How on Earth did that just happen? For the Ducks, answering that question is simple. The fact of the matter is that the Stars allowed the game to remain close enough for a comeback, and then Dallas let off the gas pedal in the final five minutes of the game.

When Cody Eakin fired a shot in on Jonas Hiller with 4:11 remaining in the game, little did anyone in the building know that it would be the final shot on goal Dallas would get in the game. Over the next seven minutes (including overtime), the Ducks racked up 11 shots on goal, including the three goals that they scored, while the Stars only attempted three shots. All of those came in overtime, and all of them were blocked.

While the Ducks may have taken advantage of every single opportunity during the late stages of the game, they also were able to make a couple of big plays happen early in the contest to keep it close. Teemu Selanne, who had been a healthy scratch in the two previous games in Dallas during this series, stepped up in a big way on a power play for the Ducks, as he fed a pass underneath Patrik Nemeth, and Smith-Pelly was there to bury the shot as the Ducks got on the board late in the first period.

As the second period got underway, the Stars were pressing the issue hard once again, but physicality proved to be an effective antidote as the Ducks trimmed the lead to one. Selanne was the instigator once again on the play, hammering Brendan Dillon (who also was victimized several times in Game 5) and jarring the puck loose. Selanne quickly tossed a pass out to the front of the net, where Ben Lovejoy fired a shot home to make it a 3-2 hockey game.

The rest of the game will now be talked about in hushed tones by Ducks fans, but that second period push that narrowed the gap really set the tone for what happened later on. The Ducks' defense, which clamped down so well in the final four minutes of regulation, was equally as impressive during that second period, allowing their first shot on goal against over 10 minutes into the period. Granted, that shot resulted in Trevor Daley's second goal of the game, but the fact remains that for over half of a period, the Ducks' defense reigned supreme on the ice, and it provided a precursor for things to come.

That, perhaps more than anything, is what the Ducks can take away from this game. Not only do they have a dynamic offense that is capable of scoring goals in crunch time situations, but they also have a defense that can slam the door on a really speedy offense like the Stars possess. That theory will be sorely tested if the Ducks have to face the San Jose Sharks in the second round (the Sharks are currently up 3-2 on the Los Angeles Kings), but if this series is any indication, Anaheim may just have what it takes to do it.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Los Angeles Kings 2014 Playoff Run]]> Wed, 02 Jul 2014 13:53:06 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/kings+quick+kopitar+492803037_10.jpg Down 3-0 to the San Jose Sharks, the Los Angeles Kings need to rally if they are going to continue their playoff run.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Anaheim Ducks 2014 Playoff Run]]> Fri, 16 May 2014 10:15:53 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/ducksplayoffs-1.jpg The Anaheim Ducks finished first in the Western Conference during the regular season and are hoping to translate that success to the playoffs.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Kings in the Sochi Olympics]]> Thu, 29 May 2014 08:04:30 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/178*120/kings-ducks-olympics-458901087_10+%283%29.jpg Several Los Angeles Kings players represented their countries at the Sochi Olympics

Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Anaheim Ducks in the Sochi Olympics]]> Thu, 01 May 2014 09:46:58 -0700 http://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/168*120/kings-ducks-olympics-458901087_10+%2812%29.jpg Several Anaheim Ducks will represented their countries at the 2014 Sochi Olympics

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>