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.