By Adam Brady
LOS ANGELES – A promising start didn’t give way to a strong finish as the Ducks were edged 2-1 by the rival Kings during preseason action tonight at Staples Center.
Anze Kopitar scored early in the third period to put LA ahead and the Kings defense clamped down the rest of the way to hang on for the slim victory. Ducks goalie Victor Fasth had 31 saves on the night, while counterpart Jonathan Quick had 27 for LA in a sharp performance.
The Ducks got 15 shots on net in the first period and connected on one of them, as Hampus Lindholm scored his third goal of the preseason at 6:09. With Anaheim on the power play following a Slava Voynov hooking penalty, Lindholm wristed a shot from above the right wing circle that got help from a Patrick Maroon screen before it eluded Quick.
"I’m just trying to get puck in to Quick," Lindholm said. "I have to give a lot of credit to the guys in front of the net. Nice, simple pass by [Nick] Bonino and I think it was [Kyle] Palmieri in front. It was really good work in front of the goalie. If he sees the puck, it’ll be easy to quick. I have to give credit to all the guys giving me a chance to score."
The Kings flipped the script in the second period, outshooting Anaheim 13-4 and finally getting the tying goal with 3:04 left in the period. With the Ducks down a man following a Mark Fistric slashing minor, Justin Williams flipped a shot from the right circle off goalie Fasth’s shoulder and into the top near corner.
"You can’t relax out there," Lindholm said. "That’s something we learned today. The first second you relax, you’re going to get one in the back of the net. It was a good lesson."
LA took its first lead 3:41 into the third, as Dwight King got to a puck in the low left circle and fed in front to Kopitar, who backhanded it between Fasth’s wickets.
At one point in the third, the Kings completed a 19-5 shot advantage run, but the Ducks put some pressure on late in the third. They sent Fasth to the bench for an extra attacker coming out of a timeout with just over a minute left, but couldn’t find the equalizer.
"We had some real good chances," said Ducks winger Kyle Palmieri. "Quick’s a guy that’s known for standing on his head especially when the game matters. I thought he played well, but we had a little lapse in the second period that set us back on our heels that we never quite recovered from. The third period was back and forth, but it’s one of those things. We need to work towards that 60-minute effort."
Added Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, "The problem right now is we’re not scoring any goals. You take that first game away when we scored six against half of Phoenix’s roster, even if it’s that much. We’ve got to find way to score some goals. Defensively, the goalies have been great and we haven’t allowed a lot. We’ve got to find a way to score."
The Ducks (3-3-0) close the preseason against another division rival this Saturday when they take on the Sharks at Honda Center. Anaheim opens the regular season on Wednesday, October 2 at Colorado.