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.