Game 60: Kings 3, Ducks 2
• To check out the Hockeywood Dailies from this game, click here…
For the longest time, I was in denial about there being a rivalry between the Kings and Ducks.
I never took the Ducks and their fans very seriously, even though many of them likely were former Kings fans or transplant fans. Then that whole Stanley Cup thing happened, and I was forced to re-evaluate some things.
Gone were the days of the Mickey Mouse organization, with their ridiculous jerseys and family-oriented entertainment. When the Mouse sold off the team, the new owners have shown a sense of purpose, they want to win.
But even as the Ducks won Lord Stanley’s Cup, it barely made a ripple in SoCal. All that seemed to do was galvanize Kings fans, to the extent that fans now go out of their way to support the team.
Like invading The Honda Center to cheer on their hometown team. On Wednesday night, the Kings put the perfect cap on their historic 10-game road trip with a hard-fought victory over a depleted Ducks squad. At times, the Kings fans in attendance at the Honda Center were vocal enough to make the broadcast.
Not only was Anaheim missing their All-Star* goaltender Jonas Hiller, they were also without Ryan Getzlaf and Saku Koivu. So they rolled out a more physical lineup to try and slow the KIngs. It worked, for the most part.
The Kings never trailed in the goal column, but they weren’t getting a lot of shots. After a loosey-goosey first period, the Kings could only muster five shots in the second and only three in the third. Didn’t matter, because the Kings’ vaunted defense didn’t really allow the Ducks any serious looks at Jonathan Quick.
Willie Mitchell, the stoic defenseman who’s known more for his grit on the ice, scored the game-winner in the third period. While you don’t really expect too much offense from a player like Mitchell, it certainly helps when he contributes. Especially in one-goal games like on Wednesday.
This part road trip, seven out of the ten games were one-goal decisions, with the Kings winning five of those. It stands to reason the next 22 games will certainly be as tight as it has been for the last month. Not only that, but 10 of them are Pacific Division games, and two games each with other Western Conference divisional leaders Detroit and Vancouver.
Next up, the Kings return home to Staples to take on the Minnesota Wild. It’s also the second of the team’s Legends’ NIght, this time honoring the architect of the Triple Crown Line, Bob Berry. And that can only mean one thing: the old-school Kings jerseys will be pulled out of mothballs again. Don’t forget, while you are at Staples Center tonight to welcome home the road warriors and rocking a throwback of your own, snap a pic and send it in for our “I’m Down With The Crown” contest. Plenty of decals are ready to be claimed for free!
* – Honestly, Jonathan Quick deserved the All-Star nod over Jonas Hiller.
The win allowed the Kings to close their trip with a 6-1-3 record, moving ahead of the Ducks in the tightly bunched Western Conference playoff race. The Kings are in sixth place, tied with Minnesota, Nashville and Calgary with 70 points each.
McElhinney, trying to keep his job with newly recalled Ray Emery on the bench as his backup, gave up two rebounds the Kings turned into goals. For the Ducks, whose offense was depleted by the absence of centers Saku Koivu (sore groin) and Ryan Getzlaf, who stayed with his wife following the birth of their son Wednesday afternoon, two mistakes proved too many.
• OC Register: Struggling Ducks lose fourth in a row
The Ducks (32-25-4) have dropped four in a row and now sit two points out of a playoff spot. The Kings (33-23-4) jumped into the sixth position in finishing with a 6-1-3 record in their 10-game road swing.
• LAKings.com: Kings down the Ducks
For the Kings, Wednesday’s win was like the proverbial sausage. The product was enjoyable, even if the process was a bit messy and unsightly at times.
• NHL.com: Kings end trip with win at Anaheim
Goaltender Jonathan Quick made 25 saves for his 28th victory. Curtis McElhinney stopped 15 shots for the Ducks, who lost their fourth in a row.
They said it
“We had to answer the bell and get together as a group and realize how important this trip was and we got 15 out of 20 points. We talked about it before the game: 13 out of 20 is good but 15 out of 20 is pretty good. Now we’ve got to keep building and keep going.” – Jarret Stoll, on the game.
“I think that’s something we’re starting to do a better job of. Because we’re not a high-scoring team, that’s something that we have to really focus on, that being the strength of our hockey club. I thought we did a pretty good job of that. It wasn’t our best game, but we locked it down after that. We didn’t really give them any quality chances, and that’s what you need to do at this time of year. All the games are tight.” – Willie Mitchell, on holding the lead after his goal.
“Every two points is just so important. I think I finally figured out to not even look at the standings. If you don’t win, there’s not even any point in looking at it, because you’re not going to move up. We’ve just got to continue to keep doing this, treat every game like it’s a playoff game. If we win 95 percent of the games from here on out, I think we’ll have a good spot in the playoffs.” – Drew Doughty, on the tight Western Conference
“It kind of felt like a home game. There were a lot of L.A. Kings fans out there,” said right wing Justin Williams, whose backhand pass set up defenseman Willie Mitchell’s decisive slap shot from the left circle at 6:45 of the third period. “When we scored it was kind of nice to hear.” – Justin Williams, on the atmosphere of the game.
“The guys were really digging in on the checking part of the game. They were very responsible. Everybody worked hard. We did a better job of getting into the shot lanes later in the game, than what we did in the first period. Quick was good when he had to be good, but again, everybody had great awareness to their skill and their speed, and we stayed above the puck and got a good win.” – Terry Murray, on holding the lead after Mitchell’s goal.
“They did a good job of blocking lanes and keeping guys from going to the net. With the exception of Corey’s goal, Quick had a pretty easy night. He didn’t have a lot of traffic in front of him. They have some big defenseman that clog that area pretty well and get you out of there. We didn’t spend enough time in the dangerous areas.” – Ducks forward Bobby Ryan, crediting the Kings defense.
“It’s a four-point game. Obviously you look at the standings. Other teams around us are finding ways to get points every night. We’ve lost four in a row and we find ourselves on the outside looking in.” – Ducks forward Bobby Ryan, on the game.