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.