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.
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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.