By Adam Brady
ANAHEIM – Coming off a minor losing streak, it seemed a date with the last-place Kings would be just what the Anaheim Ducks needed. But no matter their record, the Kings usually get up for their rivals, and that was enough for them to take down the Ducks 3-1 in front of a capacity crowd of 18.118 at Staples Center.
The Kings came into the game with the league’s worst record at 19-29-2, while Anaheim stood second in the Pacific Division and fourth in the Western Conference at 27-19-6. But the loss was the third in a row for Anaheim, coming off a streak in which they had won six straight and eight of nine. The Kings, winners of five of their last seven, snapped a four-game losing streak to Anaheim.
Jason LaBarbera paced the Kings with 31 saves, not giving up a goal until late in the third with the game all but decided. LaBarbera had previously been 0-2-1 against the Ducks this season, giving up 10 goals in the three games.
Rob Niedermayer spoiled LaBarbera’s shutout with a goal with 3:12 left in the game. Niedermayer picked up the puck at the Ducks blueline, and no one challenged him before he took a shot that somehow slid between the pads of LaBarbera. It was Niedermayer's first goal (and first point) since Nov. 29. But it was much too little, much too late for Anaheim.
“I think you probably look at this game, and there were a few opportunities where maybe it could have played out differently," said Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermayer. "We didn’t play smart, and we really didn’t earn those things to turn it our way.”
The Kings broke the game open in the second period on goals by Derek Armstrong and Alexander Frolov about 5 1/2 minutes apart. Armstrong made it a 2-0 game with a one-timer off a 2-on-1 feed from rookie Edward Purcell 4:21 into the period (Purcell’s first career point). Then Armstrong contributed to the next goal by feeding Frolov in the slot, and the winger redirected it past Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
That third unanswered goal led to Ducks head coach Randy Carlyle lifting Giguere in favor of backup Jonas Hiller. Giguere was a surprise starter, considering he was coming off a full game the night before at Honda Center (a 2-1 loss to Detroit in which he had 31 saves). The three goals allowed by Giguere came on 18 Kings shots (although that was hard to track with the Kings shots on goal malfunctioning much of the night on the hanging scoreboard).
In relief, Hiller looked strong, trying to keep the Ducks in it with 13 saves on 13 Kings shots.
“We haven’t played as good as we could have the last three games," Giguere said/ "At this time of the year it’s unacceptable. We need to be a little bit more desperate in these games.”
Anaheim looked sluggish for most of the contest, coming off a hard-fought losing battle to Detroit the night before. Los Angeles last played Tuesday night, a 3-0 defeat to those same Red Wings.
Neither team found the net through the first 16 minutes, but soon after that point, Anze Kopitar connected on the power play with Francois Beauchemin in the box for interference. After a scramble in front of the Ducks net, the loose puck somehow came out to Lubomir Visnovsky, who fed Kopitar for the one-timer from straightaway.
|A shot by Ducks right wing Corey Perry fails to go in past Los Angeles Kings goalie Jason LaBarbera during the third period at STAPLES Center on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2008. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)
Right off the ensuing faceoff, Ducks enforcer George Parros squared off with Kings counterpart Raitis Ivanans. The two heavyweights traded several punches, including a hard right by Ivanans that shook Parros a bit. Parros recovered to make a fight of it, almost getting the purple jersey over Ivanans’ head before officials broke it up.
Adding injury to insult, the Ducks had two players helped off the ice within seconds of each other in the third period. Todd Marchant took a puck off the foot courtesy of a Mathieu Schneider slap shot and had to be helped off. Then the same happened to Travis Moen after he took a hit from Brad Stuart near the benches and =suffered bruised ribs. Their status was unknown following the game.
Ryan Getzlaf didn't record a goal or assist, snapping his points streak at 15 games, tied for second all-time in Ducks history.
With a win, the Ducks would have clinched a victory in the Freeway Face-Off rivalry series with Los Angeles. But as it stands, the Ducks now have four wins (and eight standings points) and the Kings have two (five standings points, including a shootout loss).
Tonight was the last game for Anaheim going into this weekend’s All-Star break. Following the time off, they play their next eight on the road, not returning to Honda Center until Feb. 15.
“Obviously the break is something that’s on the schedule, so whatever time it comes hopefully it has a positive effect on your group once you come out of it. We haven’t had the level of execution that’s required to have success in the last three games, so we can utilize this time to reflect and do some evaluation and set out a plan to go forward after the break because we’ve got a difficult schedule coming.”
20:00 - END OF GAME - The seconds tick off the clock to finally put an end to it, a 3-1 Ducks loss to the Kings. Third straight defeat for Anaheim.
17:22 - ANA Penalty - Ryan Getzlaf
, 2 min. hooking.
16:48 - ANAHEIM GOAL - ROB NIEDERMAYER - Niedermayer picks up the puck at the Ducks blueline, and no one comes to him as he crosses into the Kings zone. He gets off a shot that somehow slides between the pads of LaBarbera. It's Niedermayer's first goal (and first point) since Nov. 29.
16:04 - Kopitar sends a hard wrister at Hiller, but he's right there for it.
14:42 - ANA Penalty - Brian Sutherby, 2 min. roughing. After the whistle on a LaBarbera puck freeze, Sutherby gives a couple of shots to Stuart behind the net.
14:34 - After Travis Moen takes a big hit from Brad Stuart, Ryan Carter
gives a little shot to Stuart and a relatively innocent scuffle ensues. Moen is now taken off the ice by the trainer.
14:14 - A Schneider slap shot drills Todd Marchant
in the leg and he goes down in a heap, staying there for awhile. He's eventually helped off the ice by Perry. The one positive of this game was that no one got hurt. Now that's not even true.
12:30 - LA Penalty - Derek Armstrong, 2 min. hooking.
11:40 - After two Kunitz shots, Perry appears to poke the puck through LaBarbera and over the line, even raising his arm in triumph. But the official waves it off. An overheard replay shows the puck sitting on the stripe, but never clearing it, before it's swept away.
An emailer named Michelle wrote to say she thought she saw the tennis balls behind the Ducks net, but I don't see them. Maybe they left early.
9:47 - LA Penalty - Raitis Ivanans, 2 min. interference.
8:24 - With Beauchemin, Niedermayer and Getzlaf out there the whole time, the Ducks get the penalty kill, with some major help from Hiller.
6:54 - Blake rips a one-timer that clangs off the crossbar and into the protective netting.
6:24 - ANA Penalties - George Parros
, 2 min. interference and bench minor, 2 min. unsportsmanlike conduct on the Ducks bench. Yikes. It's a 5 on 3 for Team Purple.
2:47 - Kunitz makes a nice pass off the wall ahead to Marchant, but his shot from the left wing is stopped.
0:00 - Here we go.
All this purple is giving me a headache. I feel like I'm trapped in a glass of grape juice. While being smothered by Barney. Even the freakin' urinal dividers in the press box bathroom are purple.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The Ducks get a couple of shots at LaBarbera with just a few seconds remaining, but like everything else they've tried tonight, it's blocked. Finally the horn sounds on a bad second period for Anaheim, as they give up goals by Armstrong and Frolov to go down 3-0.
19:32 - Hiller makes a nice pad save on a wraparound attempt, then another on the follow by Purcell.
18:33 - Hiller makes a couple of point blank saves, but also allows a couple of rebounds, and finally is able to make a stop with the pads on a shot by Ivanans right on top of him.
17:20 - Sutherby has a couple of options on a 3-on-2 rush, and elects to take the shot, which misses outside the left post.
15:30 - The Ducks desperately need a goal to avoid going into the last 20 down 3-0.
13:31 - After a LaBarbera glove save and hold, Scott Niedermayer's momentum takes him slightly into the goalie and he bumps him. A couple of Kings chest up to Niedermayer, but when they realize who it is, they don't make a move. But that doesn't stop George Parros
from rushing over there in a hurry, ready to rumble.
9:53 - Giguere is pulled for Jonas Hiller
. Rare start in net for Giguere on two consecutive nights.
9:53 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - ALEXANDER FROLOV - A loose puck comes to Moulson in the right circle, who sends it to Armstrong at the bottom of the circle, who then feeds Frolov for the one-timer goal. It's 3-0 Kings.
9:06 - Getzlaf tries to deflect a Brad May feed behind him while sitting right in front of LaBarbera, but the goalie is able to smother it.
6:01 - The Kings apparently now have three
shots on goal, according to the scoreboard. Hell of a percentage.
4:21 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - DEREK ARMSTRONG - Edward Purcell chases down the puck against the board at the Ducks blueline in a battle with Beauchemin and is on a 2 on 1 with Armstrong. Purcell slides a pass to a streaking Armstrong in the middle and Armstrong redirects it under Giguere's left skate. A few seconds later, "I Love L.A." rains down from the rafters. Not good. It's 2-0 Kings.
2:05 - Matt Moulson hits the pipe. That means something different in hockey than it does in everyday life.
There is a fan in the last row, just below us, who is one of those fans who thinks his team hears him. "Come on, Kings! Get back the intensity!"
0:00 - We're back at it in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The Ducks' are too little to late with an almost-goal at the end of the period. They're outshot 14-9 and go down 1-0 on a Kopitar goal.
20:00 - With the clock ticking down, Ryan Carter
makes a sweet move to get loose one on one with Jack Johnson and has room in the slot. His ensuing wrister flies past LaBarbera into the back of the net and it's immediately ruled a goal by the official on the ice. But after a video review, it's ruled the time expired before the puck hit the net, much to the delight of most of these fans. The Ducks are in the locker room when the ruling is made.
17:27 - LA Penalty - Kyle Calder, 2 min. holding. Chance for the Ducks.
16:20 - Right off the draw at center ice, it's a heavyweight battle between George Parros
and Raitis Ivanans. This one lasts a while, as both players land punches, including a solid one by Ivanans that shakes up Parros momentarily. But he bounces back to exchange more blows and eventually starts to get the jersey over Ivanans' head before the boys in the strips break it up. Five for both.
16:16 - LOS ANGELES GOAL (POWER PLAY) - ANZE KOPITAR - The puck gets loose in front of Giguere and he can't find it. It squirts out to Visnovsky, who quickly feeds Kopitar in the slot. Kopitar's one-timer hits off Giguere and flips over his shoulder.
15:35 - They fixed it! It now says eight shots.
As they've done before, the video board shows a fake shot of a Duck in the box and the penalty box attendant throws a pie in his face. Highest of high comedy.
14:57 - ANA Penalty - Francois Beauchemin, 2 min. interference.
14:00 - The scoreboard now says the Kings have 22 saves. I think it's time to reboot that thing. Giguere must be on pace for 70 saves.
13:08 - Giguere makes another great stop on a Jeff Giuliano one-timer on the rush.
12:47 - Giguere makes three big saves right before the penalty expires.
11:35 - Another Visnovsky rocket gets past Giguere, but hits the high post.
10:47 - If the Kings score on this power play, all the fans in attendance get a free bag of banana chips. Seriously.
Kings fans change their chant for a different song, going with "
Anaheim Sucks!" this time. Impressive variety.
10:47 - ANA Penalty - Brian Sutherby, 2 min. roughing. Parros grabs a loose puck in the Kings zone, skates through the slot and feeds May in front, but he can't punch it through a diving LaBarbera. After the save, there is some shoving and Sutherby gets the minor.
Remember, if you join this game log late, read it from the bottom. Just like Kings fans read the division standings. (Okay, I've used that joke before.)
10:10 - Scoreboard still says the Kings have 18 shots. They actually have three.
8:55 - A Pronger slap shot is deflected in front and just misses outside the post.
7:44 - LA Penalty - Michal Handzus, 2 min. holding.
During the timeout, the video board shows that lion Kings mascot picking up Wild Wing at Honda Center, taking him to a tanning salon, then putting him in the tanning bed, where he quickly turns into a roast duck. Only problem. That wasn't really Wild Wing. It was some other kind of Duck mascot head in a jersey. Nice effort though.
6:40 - Schneider turns it over, leading to a hard Visnovsky shot from the point that Giguere saves off the shoulder.
I just got an email from a fan who is here and recognized several Honda Center ushers in attendance. Pretty cool.
4:01 - Pronger booed as he touches the puck.
3:23 - LA Penalty - Rob Blake, 2 min. elbowing. Ducks power play for the first time tonight.
3:12 - "Ducks Suck!" to the tune of the "Adams Family" theme song. Well done, Kings fans. It makes me think of a line from "Swingers": "If your life sucks, then my life is Godawful."
2:40 - The Staples Center scoreboard says the Kings already have 25 shots on goal. They fix it. It now says 18. I think I would have remembered that.
2:02 - Kopitar charges in on Giguere, but Huskins nicely pokes it away from behind.
0:01 - The first Ducks suck emanates from the crowd. Suck? Really? Aren't you in last place?
The Kings have a three-dude drum group that help get the game started with a little drum sequence. Kind of cool.
0:00 - We're underway at Staples Center after Tommy Lasorda participates in the ceremonial puck drop. He looks good, despite the Kings jersey. Still fat, but good.
Starting Goaltenders: ANA Jean-Sebastien Giguere; LA Jason LaBarbera
Starting Skaters: ANA Todd Bertuzzi, Corey Perry
, Ryan Getzlaf
, Sean O'Donnell, Chris Pronger; LA Kyle Calder, Michal Handzus, Edward Purcell, Jack Johnson, Rob Blake
Scratches: ANA Brandon Bochenski, Joe DiPenta; LA Brian Willsie, Kevin Dallman, Ladislav Nagy
J.S. Giguere gets the start, despite playing the whole game last night. Michael Cammalleri remains out with an injury for LA.