ANAHEIM – In the end, the Ducks may have simply just run out of gas.
A remarkable three-goal comeback in the third period to tie the score 4-4 was all the Ducks could manage, as the Kings answered with two of their own for a 6-4 victory at Staples Center.
For the second time in the last three weeks, the Ducks took on the Kings on the road in the second half of a back-to-back. That anticipated fatigue reared its head when the Ducks gave up three unanswered in the second and early in the third.
But Anaheim managed to find the energy before the halfway point in the third, scoring three times in 6:24 to tie the score 4-4. But the Kings never wavered, retaking the lead on a Dustin Brown tally with 5:32 left and putting the game away on the power play on Anze Kopitar’s second of the game with 27 seconds left.
It was the eighth straight win for Los Angeles, tying a club record and breaking a modest three-game win streak for Anaheim. L.A. defeated the Ducks for the third time in as many games in the Freeway Face-Off rivalry series this season.
Unlike last time in this building when the Kings won 4-1, this one was a thriller to the finish. Troy Bodie made it 4-2 when he took a nice pass from Ryan Getzlaf and one-timed it top corner. Two minutes later, fellow rookie Matt Beleskey was another beneficiary of a great Getzlaf feed, as the center beautifully shuttled the puck across the top of the crease, where Beleskey dumped it into the open net. And with 10:25 left in the game, the Ducks tied it temporarily when Todd Marchant picked up a turned-over puck, swung around the back of the net and fed Ryan Carter.
But the Kings spoiled the party and sent a sellout crowd into a frenzy when Kopitar fired a shot from the circle that deflected hard off Hiller to Brown, who filled a wide open net. Following a Getzlaf tripping minor late, Kopitar earned his fourth point of the game with a pretty deke move around Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller before tucking the puck inside the post.
The Ducks didn’t show the wear of back-to-back games when they came out flying in the first. But fatigue appeared to ultimately catch up to them when the Kings came back with three unanswered.
The Ducks got on the board 5:40 into the game on the first goal as a Duck by Jason Blake, who came to Anaheim on Sunday in a trade that involved goalie J.S. Giguere going to Toronto. Blake got a nice pass from linemate Saku Koivu and dumped it into the open net.
But Los Angeles bounced back in a major way, starting with 1:06 left in the first, when Scott Niedermayer turned the puck over in the corner and Kopitar made the Ducks pay from the slot.
Anaheim looked sluggish in a middle session that saw them surrender two more Kings goals, starting just 1:04 into the period on a one-timer by Wayne Simmonds.
The Kings found the net again with 2:59 left, on the power play, as Michal Handzus redirected an Alexander Frolov pass at the top of the crease to take that 4-1 lead the Ducks ultimately erased.
The regulation loss meant Anaheim failed to gain ground in the tight Western Conference playoff race, remaining three points behind the eighth spot, but with no games until Monday night at Honda Center against these same Kings.
20:00 - END OF GAME - A Ducks comeback is thwarted when the Kings come back with two goals to win it 6-4.
19:33 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - ANZE KOPITAR - Kopitar makes a remarkable play again, picking up the puck off a rebound, deking Hiller near the side of the net and going around him to tuck it inside the post. It's 6-4 Kings and this one is over.
19:05 - Getzlaf jawing with a fan sitting behind the glass next to the penalty box, so he squirts some Gatorade at him (into the glass).
18:55 - Hiller with a big stop point blank on Brown to keep the Ducks alive, but Getzlaf trips Brown from behind, sending the Kings forward tumbling. Big roar from this crowd.
18:00 - Ducks may be a little gassed trying to get the equalizer.
14:28 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - DUSTIN BROWN - Heartbreaker for the Ducks as Kopitar fires a shot from the circle that rebounds hard off Hiller right to Brown left of the net, and he has a big window to easily dump the puck into. Kings regain the lead, 5-4.
13:28 - As if this period isn't exciting enough, Getzlaf flips into the zone and chases it down with Greene. He hits Greene so hard, the pane of glass goes tumbling into the crowd. Crazy. And let's hope the delay isn't too long as they fix it.
12:07 - Kopitar, who shoots the puck from just about anywhere, picks up the disc and fires a surprising shot that Hiller corrals.
10:41 - Right off the draw, Stoll chips a shot out of the circle hard and rings it of the crossbar. Whoa.
9:35 - ANAHEIM GOAL - RYAN CARTER -- Marchant takes the puck from Stoll just behind the extended goal line after Stoll loses and edge and goes down. Marchant swings behind the net, emerges in front and slides a pass across the crease the Carter bangs home. And holy lord, we're tied 4-4.
6:45 - Perry snipes one from the high slot, just wide. Ducks with a lot more energy suddenly.
5:12 - ANAHEIM GOAL - MATT BELESKEY - Perry picks up the puck along the wall and gently sends it low to Getzlaf, who quickly shuttles it across the top of the crease, where Beleskey deposits into the open net. Ducks creep to within a goal.
4:00 - Ducks have a chance for another when Beleskey is alone with Quick down, but it agonizingly rolls off his stick.
3:11 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TROY BODIE - The Ducks finally get one back when Getzlaf wins a battle along the wall with Moller and slips a pass to Bodie, who one-times it top corner.
1:44 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - JACK JOHNSON - Johnson gets a pass at the point from Frolov and rips a one-timer that gets some help from a Handzus screen, as Hiller couldn't see the puck. Kings lead 4-1.
0:00 - Off and running in the third, the Ducks with some work to do.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The Ducks only get off four shots in a sluggish second and give up two goals to go down 3-1.
18:41 - Shot from the point by Eminger is just the second of the period for the Ducks, and Quick stops it.
17:01 - LOS ANGELES GOAL (POWER PLAY) - MICHAL HANDZUS - With not much time left in the power play, Frolov slides a pass from the low circle under Brookbank's stick shaft, and Handzus redirects it right in front. Kings take a 2-goal lead.
Kings mascot Bailey wearing out that drum of his tonight.
16:16 - Big stop up high with the blocker by Hiller on Stoll, the second time Stoll feels like he's been robbed tonight.
15:15 - ANA Penalty - Steve Eminger, 2 min. tripping. Eminger takes down Segal behind the net. Big PK for Anaheim.
14:25 - Parros knocks the puck out the air, spins and shoots it off the foot of Johnson, and it just misses trickling in. That would have been nice.
12:55 - A Blake pass into the crease just misses a charging Selanne's stick. Blake playing nicely tonight.
11:00 - Hiller a good save as Smyth picks up a rebound, spins and fires.
8:10 - Ryan gets driven hard into the glass by Doughty, who finishes the check with a fervor. Crowd loves it after what Ryan did to Moller last game here.
5:40 - Ice leaning heavily in L.A.'s favor, Hiller stops the momentum with a save on a Smyth shot.
3:50 - Ducks get a break when Doughty jumps on a rolling puck and fires a shot through traffic that rings the far post.
1:04 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - WAYNE SIMMONDS - During a delayed whistle on a Ducks penalty, Kopitar controls it at the bottom of the circle and makes a nice feed in the slot to Simmonds, who one-times it through. Kings leads it 2-1 as Kopitar factors into their first two goals.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - The Ducks go up early, but give one up late and it's 1-1.
18:54 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - ANZE KOPITAR - Niedermayer commits a bad giveaway in the corner behind the Anaheim net, and after it bounces around for awhile, Kopitar fires a quick shot that ticks off Hiller and gets into the net. It's 1-1.
17:57 - Hiller goes crazy yet again, making a kick save on Handzus right in front, then lunging to stop him again off the rebound. Wow.
16:06 - Hiller is slightly out of the crease stopping a hard-angle shot by Smythe, but he pops back in time to catch a follow by Stoll, who is not happy.
14:25 - Hiller with another kick save on a shot from the slot and dives on it to smother with the glove.
14:15 - Ducks looking strong so far in the period, outshooting the Kings 11-5.
13:30 - As Green tries to bounce the puck high on his stick blade, Perry just slaps at it and nearly gets it by Quick. Heck of a play.
12:33 - Nice kick save by Hiller on a heavy shot by Handzus.
10:05 - Crowd gets excited when Brown lays a good hit on Brookbank, and they change their tune when Selanne flips Brown over a second later.
9:25 - Bodie charges in, stopped by Quick, and Blake nearly converts the rebound.
5:40 - ANAHEIM GOAL - JASON BLAKE - Not long after Koivu wins the faceoff Blake gets his first as a Duck when Koivu controls it in the circle and makes a pretty pass across the slot, where Blake bats it in. Ducks strike first blood, 1-0.
5:36 - Blake crashes in trying to reward a Perry pass from behind the net and can't get it through Quick.
4:38 - Hiller takes a Moller shot from the circle in the gut.
3:00 - Selanne tries to punch it in after a rebound off a Niedermayer shot, but it's a bad angle.
2:22 - LAK Penalty - Oscar Moller, 2 min. holding. Moller wraps an arm around Beleskey, and not in a friendly way.
1:50 - Right off the draw (we saw this coming), George Prros and Raitis Ivanans drop the gloves and it's a heck of a battle. They trade a few blows before Parros lands a straight right that appears to stun Ivanans. But neither guy will quit and they dance for another couple of minutes, trading punches before running out of gas and getting split up.
0:00 - And we're underway at Staples Center.
7:39 p.m. - Davis Gaines sings a ... let's call it festive ... version of the anthem that appears to take 4 1/2 minutes. It was like he was being paid by the second. And during one break in the song, a Kings fan yells "Ducks suck!" to the delight of the home crowd. You stay classy, L.A.
7:34 p.m. - Before the intros, the Kings flash some of their impressive stats on the board, like their seven straight wins and their 21-0-0 record when leading after two periods. Man, how I would love to have some of those screwed up tonight.