[LA FEATURE]Freeway Face-Off

LA FEATURE

Coverage of the first-ever Stanley Cup Playoffs meeting between the Ducks and Kings

Gaborik's 2 Late Goals Hand Kings Game 1 Victory Over Ducks

Gaborik scores with seven seconds left in regulation, then pots the OT winner as Kings triumph

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    ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 03: Matt Beleskey #39 of the Anaheim Ducks is pursued by Anze Kopitar #11 of the Los Angeles Kings for the puck in the second period of Game One of the Second Round of the 2014 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center on May 3, 2014 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

    The Anaheim Ducks came within seven seconds of taking a 1-0 lead in their series against the Los Angeles Kings, but Marian Gaborik tied things up, and he followed that up by scoring the game-winning goal in overtime to give the Kings a 3-2 triumph in Game 1. 

    Alec Martinez also scored a goal for the Kings, and Jonathan Quick made 33 saves in the win. Matt Beleskey and Teemu Selanne scored goals for the Ducks, but Jonas Hiller's 33 saves weren't enough as his team dropped the opening game of the series. 

    Neither goaltender was tested much in the opening minutes of the game, as both teams mixed responsible defense with some intensely physical play. As a result, neither team was able to sustain possession or move the puck around the zone effectively, but several players on each side racked up hits as a result of the emphasis on physicality. Dustin Brown threw four hits in the first 10 minutes of the game for Anaheim, and Andrew Cogliano and Matt Beleskey each had three hits in that span.

    The Kings were the early beneficiaries of a couple of bad miscues by the Ducks, and on their second power play of the opening period they finally capitalized. After cycling the puck around the zone and getting the Anaheim defense over-rotating, a pass eventually found its way to Marian Gaborik behind the net. All four Anaheim defenders chased after it, leaving the slot wide open. Alec Martinez pinched in from the point, and all Gaborik had to do was feed a pass to the defenseman and he did the rest, giving the Kings a 1-0 lead.

    Just a few minutes later, the Ducks were given a gift by Quick, and they took advantage to tie things up. With Ryan Getzlaf and Jake Muzzin doing battle on the rush, Quick came out of the net to challenge the shot. Getzlaf instead drove around the back of the net, and before the Kings’ goaltender could regain his crease, Getzlaf fed Beleskey in front of the net, and the forward didn’t miss as he tied the game at 1-1 with about eight minutes remaining in the period.

    As the first period wound down, the Ducks started racking up shots and the Kings were forced back on their heels. Devante Smith-Pelly had a couple of great opportunities in the later stages of the frame, but Quick rebounded nicely from his over-aggressiveness, robbing the Ducks winger with a great cross-crease save as he sprawled out in a full splits to make the save.

    Emerson Etem also picked up a great chance a few moments later, but Quick made the save. Saku Koivu then intercepted the clearing attempt, but Smith-Pelly couldn’t hammer home the shot after a nice feed from the veteran as he rang a shot off the post.

    As the period came to an end, the Ducks picked up a power play, but they weren’t able to convert on the man advantage when the second period began. The Ducks did keep coming in the opening minutes of the frame, but once again they were stymied by Quick. Patrick Maroon and Teemu Selanne each picked up some good chances in that sequence, as did Smith-Pelly, but Quick’s rebound control seemed to be on point as he settled in.

    The Kings did finally start to get some good possession going in the middle stages of the period after going about 16 minutes without a shot on goal, but they couldn’t cash in on any of their chances. They did get a power play after Jakub Silfverberg picked up a boarding penalty, but despite moving the puck around the zone effectively, they couldn’t get any pucks past Hiller as the game remained tied.

    Neither team managed to get back on the board as the second period came to an end, but the Ducks did pick up a few more good chances. Corey Perry had the best one of those late, but his shot that beat Quick rang off the post yet again, eliciting groans from the Honda Center crowd. When the horn sounded at the end of the period, each team had racked up 10 shots, but the score remained tied at 1-1.

    With the third period underway, the Ducks continued their assault on Quick. The best of those chances came on a floating shot off the stick of Etem, but it ended up drifting a bit too far and settled on top of the net. At the other end of the ice, the Kings got a good opportunity of their own, but Mike Richards’ shot attempt on the rush was stopped by a great stick check by Matt Bonino.

    A few minutes later though, the Ducks finally got back on the board and took the lead with about 12 minutes remaining. Maroon made an excellent play to get around the stick check of Matt Greene, and he pushed a pass up to Selanne. The veteran sniper made a nifty deke to his backhand, and when Quick lifted his stick off the ice, Selanne forced the puck between the goaltender’s pads, giving the Ducks a 2-1 lead.

    The Kings did get an opportunity to tie the game with about eight minutes remaining when they got a power play, but in spite of some good puck movement, they couldn’t beat Hiller. Jeff Carter really came to play in that sequence, moving the puck well and getting a couple of good shots off toward the net. They didn’t convert, but the sequence seemed to embolden a dormant Kings attack.

    With Quick pulled from the net, the Kings got a couple of great chances to tie things up in the game's final minute. Drew Doughty's shot ended up hitting traffic, but Anze Kopitar put a backhanded attempt on net that Hiller had to scramble to stop. Justin Williams then got an opportunity as well, but he couldn't quite put the shot on net as it skipped just wide. 

    With just seven seconds left in the game, the pressure finally paid off, and the Kings tied things up. Mike Richards attempted to put a shot on net from the corner of the ice, but it was skipping across the ice and it ended up going off of Bryan Allen's stick. After it popped about a foot in the air, Marian Gaborik was able to whack it into the net to tie things up at 2-2 and force overtime. 

    As overtime got underway, the pace really seemed to open up as both teams took an aggressive approach. The Kings drew the first couple of chancesof the period, with Drew Doughty blasting a shot just wide of the net. Both Kopitar and Carter had chances to pop in the rebound, but neither was able to convert. Doughty then got another huge shot off from the blue line, but Hiller smothered it. 

    The Ducks racked up scoring chances in the opening minutes of the period, with eight of them in the opening half of the period. Smith-Pelly had the best chance of all as he stood in front of Quick and then got a pass with no Kings players around him, but Quick somehow was able to sprawl out and smother the puck to keep the game going. 

    Despite the Ducks' dominance, it was ultimately the Kings that prevailed. After a crazy sequence that saw the puck end up on the stick of Kopitar in the slot off a great pass from Doughty, the Kings' stellar center found a wide open Gaborik along the side of the net, and he potted the game winner to give the Kings a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. 

    The next game in the series will be contested on Tuesday night as the Ducks try to salvage a split of the first two games in their home building.