Kings finish Duck Season with a flourish

Los Angeles Kings defenseman Matt Greene (2) congratulates center Anze Kopitar (11), of Slovenia for scoring the winning goal in a shootout to beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-4 during an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, April 6, 2010, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)Game 79: Kings 5, Ducks 4 (shootout)

This season has been a treat for long-suffering Kings fans. Finally, Lombardi's long-term vision has come into focus. The Kings have three solid scoring lines, dependable goaltending and a bright future.

And now, they made future matchups with their crosstown rivals by eliminating them from playoff contention with a huge come-from-behind win Tuesday night.

Few things are sweeter than seeing Anaheim finally miss the playoffs after four seasons, except for one thing: being the team that knocks them out. I believe this is the first time either team has directly bumped the other from the postseason. The only thing bigger now is to have these two teams meet in the playoffs. That will cement the "rivalry" into a genuine Rivalry.

But not this year. This year, it's all about the Kings. With a wicked power play and a head of steam, L.A. is going to attempt to ride a long way with the team on the ice.

Sure, Jonathan Quick was chased after allowing three goals. He hasn't won a game since March 22. That's five straight, people! And the stalwart goaltender, who earned a franchise record in wins in 39, failed to reach 40 one again. And at a critical time too. No, not for the Kings, for my fantasy team! I'm in the championship game! He's been my stud in net, and my fortunes rely directly on his shoulders. (No pressure, Jonny.)

The Ducks staked themselves to a three-goal lead, before daring the Kings to catch them. Bad idea. Dustin Brown scored his fourth goal in three games on the power play, to get the Kings' scoring started. Teemu Selanne scored his second of the game to regain the three-goal cushion. But the KIngs' Alexander Frolov struck on the power play near the end of the second to make it 4-2.

In the third period, the Kings unleashed hell and a whole bunch of shots. Justin Williams scored with his linemates setting him up perfectly. And Michal Handzus completed the comeback to tie the game with his 20th of the season. Lemme ask you this: what other fourth line center can provide you with 20 goals? It's a nice thing to actually have scoring threats so deep on the roster.

After a furious overtime, the game heads into a shootout. Ersberg isn't so good in shootouts, the last two games he played in went to a SO and he lost both, including that 10-round match back in February. Corey Perry continued Ersberg's pain to start off the exhibition with a backhand.

Jack Johnson tied it with a snapshot in the second round, and Kings' fans knew Ersberg's chances of stopping another Ducks shot was slim. Saku Koivu missing the entire net, allowing the Kings to put their alternate captain, Anze Kopitar, out on center ice.

As soon as Kopitar headed to the goalie's left, you knew it was coming. Anze skated in, and attempted to deke, drawing Curtis McElhinney out of position. Then Kopitar tucked it past the sprawling goaltender's outside pad for the game-winner. The Slovenian Stunner strikes again! And not only that, but it took the Ducks out of the playoffs. Sort of.

Helene Elliott reports that the Ducks' playoff fate was sealed earlier, when the Avs beat the Canucks in a shootout. But that technicality matters little to fans, who will no doubt point to this game as an important one in the rivalry's history.

• AP: Kings rally from 3 goals down to beat Ducks in SO
If anybody still doubted the balance of power in southern California hockey has shifted north, the Los Angeles Kings confirmed it with a comeback win that left even their biggest rivals impressed by this playoff-bound club’s tenacity.
• LA Times: Kings see a net gain, and some net loss, in victory
What stands out about this game for the Kings, more than their comeback or their rise to sixth place in the West, is the possibility -- no, likelihood -- that they are heading toward the playoffs with a goaltending problem.
• LA Kings: The comeback Kings
``It was a difficult game for us,’’ Murray said. ``But our line of (Raitis) Ivanans, (Brad) Richardson and (Rich) Clune got us going. I thought they gave us some very big shifts in the first period, when we were kind of feeling our way around and seeing how the game was going to go.
•  Kings rally for 5-4 shootout win over Ducks
If overcoming adversity is the price of an education, the playoff-bound Los Angeles Kings passed with flying colors Tuesday night in Anaheim. The Kings rallied from a 4-1 deficit on goals by Alexander Frolov, Justin Williams  and Michal Handzus to beat the Ducks 5-4 in a shootout at Honda Center.
They said it
“For me to be successful, I’ve got to have the puck and control the puck as much as I can. That makes me more comfortable out there, holding onto the puck, making plays and not simply just dumping it in when I feel pressure. Just having the confidence to make plays out there, I’m starting to get that again.” – Justin Williams, on his recent strong play.
“It’s one of those things where, if I don’t score, we keep on going. So it’s not like I had to score. That makes it a little easier. It’s the last game of the year, and I don’t think we’re going to see McElhinney too often in the shootout, so I just figured I’d try it.” – Anze Kopitar, on his shootout goal.
“I think they had more shots in overtime, in five minutes, then they had in the rest of the game that I played. It was just a matter of time, if we were going to be able to come back.” – Erik Ersberg, on the shots he faced.
That was quite a five minutes. That was pretty exciting. There was a lot of good things going both ways, with both goaltenders. Ersberg, he came up when he had to, in that overtime, 4-on-4. You know why the league wanted to do it when you see that one. It was great stuff.” – Terry Murray, on Ersberg’s play in overtime.
Drew Doughty #8 of the Los Angeles Kings congratulates teammate Erik Ersberg #31 for a 5-4 shoot out win over the Anaheim Ducks on April 6, 2010 at Honda Center in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Debora Robinson/NHLI via Getty Images) Around the Kingdom

• The Throne Room: Kings Crush Ducks’ Playoff Pipedreams With Monster Comeback
This season, the Kings dominated their “Freeway Faceoff” series with the Ducks, going 4-1-1 against the foul fowl. While I thought the Kings were the better team – winning the season series narrowly – last season, this season, it really wasn’t close.
• HockeyBuzz's Matthew Barry: Down 4-1, Kings Fry Ducks 5-4
But the question on everyones mind tonight is... what the hell is wrong with Jon Quick? Is he pulling a J.S. Giguere who carried the Ducks in the regular season only to be supplanted by Ilya Bryzgalov in the post season? Where's the consistency? The Kings hadn't played in three days.
• LA Kings News: A comeback for the ages
Anze Kopitar. The name brings a smile to every Kings fans’ lips. Hey, it takes a special player to cause me to start a religion in his honor. Kopitarians and gentiles stood around North America. The game was on Anze’s stick. Would he go to the backhand and slid it under the pads? Would he go high glove? Would he deke? Would he…no…would he?
• ESPNLosAngeles' Tom Murray: Brown does his talking on the ice
"It’s getting to the nitty gritty of the season," he said. "When you have a team down you need to kick ‘em. I’ve never been in the playoff but I think that’s a pretty important aspect of the playoffs. You can’t let up for a second, you can’t give them any hope. It’s coming back to that killer instinct that you have to keep developing." 
From across the aisle, the Anaheim viewpoint

• Orange County Register: Ducks eliminated from playoff race
Making the playoffs was a longshot at best after a bad start and an ill-timed slump after the Olympic break but the Ducks (38-31-10) still sat in stunned silence afterward as the reality of unfulfilled expectations began to set in.
• OC Register's Ducks Blog: Final nail: Ducks by the numbers
16: Number of years that the Ducks and Kings have gone without being in the playoffs simultaneously (the 2004-05 season was canceled by the lockout). The two Southern California franchises have never appeared in the playoffs together.
• Anaheim Calling: GOAT (Er, Giving Out Awards Time) 
The vision of this year's team was unrealistic: three scoring lines and abundant blueline offense.  Sure, there are franchises that can put that together.  The Red Wings have plenty of homegrown talent and the Penguins  had the money and the high draft picks to assemble a perennial contender.  But Bob Murray, on a shoestring budget and uhh limited GM experience (we'll call it), wasn't going to pull that off.  The best he could do was build a rocket ship out of popsicle sticks. 
Peeping the dailies

<br/><a href="" target="_new" title="Kings eliminate Ducks">Video: Kings eliminate Ducks</a>

And here's a fan video, posing the question: who's does the SO shot better: Forsberg or Kopitar?


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  • April 7, 2010 1:08 PM Marissa wrote:
    You didn't directly bump the Ducks out of the playoffs. The Colorado win did which was finished before the Kings took it to overtime, therefore Kings had absolutely nothing to with elimination. Stop taking credit for other peoples work.
    Reply to this
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