ANAHEIM – Playing without their No. 1 goalie and their top two centers proved too much to overcome, as the Ducks fell 3-2 to the rival Kings before a sellout crowd at Honda Center.
It was the fourth straight loss for Anaheim in the kickoff to a critical seven-game homestand. Los Angeles, fighting with the Ducks in a tight Western Conference playoff race, snapped a two-game losing skid to win its fourth in the last six. They jumped to sixth in the standings, while Anaheim dropped to 11th, though still just two points behind the fifth spot.
Kings defenseman Willie Mitchell nailed the game-winner for the Kings 6:45 into the final period, firing a wide-open slap shot from the top of the left wing circle that beat a screened Curtis McElhinney top shelf. McElhinney was starting his fourth straight game as usual starter Jonas Hiller continued to recover from a bout with dizziness and balance issues. McElhinney was not overly busy on the night, seeing just 18 shots and just three in the third period.
Meanwhile, the Ducks were also without captain Ryan Getzlaf, who was tending to his wife following the birth of their first child, a son, earlier today. Second-line center Saku Koivu was a late scratch with a groin strain.
"Guys stepped up, came into those situations and did well," said Bobby Ryan, who filled in for Getzlaf as the center on the top line. "You can’t replace our captain and a veteran leader for us. Those are tough guys to step in and fill voids for. The outcome could have been different and it would have been better if it was. But guys worked hard."
Said Teemu Selanne, who had the Ducks' first goal, "We had our two top centers out. If you take them out of any team, it’s going to be a big hole. We did a lot of good things, but it’s very frustrating right now. A lot of guys played hard and deserved better than this."
Following Mitchell’s goal, the Ducks could get little going while trying to tie the game for a third time, including in the final minute when they pulled McElhinney for an extra attacker.
In the game’s first two periods, Anaheim was able to twice erase one-goal Kings leads on two similar tip-in goals.
The Ducks were able to hold the Kings without a shot for the first 11 minutes of the game, but L.A. broke the scoring ice when Ryan Smyth’s batted a rebound out of mid-air and past McElhinney at 12:13.
A little more than a minute later, the Ducks answered when Toni Lydman’s one-timer from the point was tipped by Selanne in the slot and the puck sailed past a Corey Perry screen.
Anze Kopitar chipped in a rebound later in the period, but Perry’s work in front of the net paid off yet again in the second. Luca Sbisa faked a shot, hesitated and then fired a rocket from the right point that Perry just did get a stick on to get it past Jonathan Quick.
But that was the last of the scoring for the Ducks, who could only manage six shots in the final period.
"It was very disappointing," Selanne said. "I think we played good enough to win the game. The goals matter. They got three and we got two. It was a better effort and that is what we have to build on. We have to stay positive."
Despite losing a fourth straight game in regulation for the first time this year, Ducks Randy Carlylesaid he liked the team's output much better than what they showed during two rough road games following a loss at home to Washington a week ago.
"We definitely had a much better hockey game," Carlyle said. "We had a stronger work ethic. You can’t knock our effort and our commitment out there. Maybe the execution could be a touch better in the scoring department. But I thought we played fairly well, as far as the team game. That had really been absent in the first three games of the slide."
20:00 - Ducks can't get anything going in the third and fall 3-2.
19:10 - Ducks net empty.
17:11 - Perry slap shot and Ryan rebound try both stopped by Quick.
15:00 - Timeout with five minutes left and it's gut-check time for Anaheim.
11:50 - Missile from Sbisa is just knocked away, with McMillan just missing the rebound.
10:35 - Quick makes a nice stop on Lubo as Ryan goes flying over him.
9:30 - ANA Penalty - Jarkko Ruutu and LAK Penalty - Brad Richardson, 2 min. roughing. Tons of pushing and shoving in front of the benches after Lapierre shoves Richardson into the Ducks' bench twice, while play goes on for a little while. Eventually it's whistled dead, while the Kings had six skaters out there during that episode.
8:40 - Quick not happy with the way Blake gets one more slap in while the Ducks poke away at the puck and goes after Blake following the whistle. Not much happens beyond that.
6:45 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - WILLIE MITCHELL - Ducks let the Kings spend way too much time in their end and it finall bites them, as Mitchelle is wide open when he takes in a Williams drop pass, and he winds a fires a slap shot from above the the left wing circle top shelf. McElhinney may not have seen it, as he had traffic in front. It's 3-2 Kings.
5:00 - Just realized the Ducks haven't taken a minor yet. Just the Chipchura fighting major.
4:00 - Ducks have been going with Perry-Ryan-Sexton for much of this game after starting with Ruutu on the wing instead of Sexy.
2:56 - Delay while McElhinney gets something fixed on his leg pad.
2:55 - Parros nails Mitchell into the glass near the penalty boxes.
0:00 - Off and running in what just might be a decent third.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Perry's tip-in goal gets the Ducks even, and we head to the third tied 2-2.
19:14 - McElhinney makes a huge kick save on Simmonds on the partial breakaway off a Fowler turnover, then pulls the puck into him with the stick.
15:30 - Ryan pastes Stoll into the wall.
14:00 - Ducks get a break as Visnovsky tips away a rebound at the last minute with a King charging after it.
10:05 - ANAHEIM GOAL - COREY PERRY - Mere seconds after Ryan's pass on the doorstep isn't chipped in, he recovers the puck in the corner and feeds Sbisa at the point. Sbisa fakes a shot, waits and fires a rocket that Perry barely gets a stick on in front of the net and it dives into the net. Crowd erupts as the Ducks tie it, 2-2. (Second Ducks goal that looked like it was scored by the d-man and the off-ice officials rule it was tipped.)
10:00 - Ryan makes a nice backhand pass on the rush, but it misses Sexton's stick.
8:37 - Chipchura shot from the slot is saved by Quick as Ryan goes sliding into the net.
Pretty good crowd tonight, with a handful of "Let's Go, Kings" chants drowned out quickly by "Let's Go, Ducks."
2:20 - Selanne goes down hard in the Kings' end, but no call. Crowd wanted one.
0:00 - Here we go in the second.
1st Period 20:00 - END OF PERIOD - A little scariness around the net in the closing seconds, but it remains 2-1 Kings.
19:02 - McElhinney with a nice stop in deep on Williams after he dekes around Sbisa.
18:44 - Visnovsky a little shaken up after taking a shot from Stoll behind the goal line.
17:09 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - ANZE KOPITAR - Williams fires a shot from the right wing that McElhinney deflects right in front of him, the puck landing at Kopitar's feet and he punches it in. It's 2-1 Kings.
16:25 - Both Sexton and McMillan have slaps at it after Quick saves a Beauchemin shot from straight way, but can't get it behind the goalie.
15:30 - Perry is denied from in deep. Couldn't lift it.
14:32 - LAK Penalty - Kevin Westgarth, 2 min. roughing. McElhinney makes a stop on the doorstep on Lewis and there is mayhem in the creast after he freezes it. Westgarth gets a little aggressive.
Guess that Theme Song gets a little easier when they offer choices of Alf, Threes Company and Mr. Rogers. I know the latter two, and this wasn't it. So naturally the answer was Alf.
13:32 - ANAHEIM GOAL - TEEMU SELANNE - Ducks get even when Lydman fires a shot from the left point off a Sexton pass that Selanne tips from the slot, and it sails through a beauty of a McMillan screen past Quick. We're tied 1-1.
12:13 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - RYAN SMYTH - A Johnson shot from the point is tipped by Stoll and deflects off McElhinney straight into the air, where Smyth bats it in at around chest-level to give the Kings a 1-0 lead.
11:00 - First Kings shot on goal comes nine minutes in by Sturm, saved by McElhinney from in deep.
10:06 - Play stops as Chipchura and Clifford get into it away from the puck in the Anaheim attacking end, with Brookbank taking a couple of shots before they both run out of gas.
10:00 - Brookbank at forward, by the way, with Chipchura and Parros.
8:30 - Lydman does a great job to body Dustin Brown trying to start a rush. Still no shots for LA.
6:05 - Quick is down briefly after trying to dive and pike a puck away, but Ducks can't get a shot off quickly (rapidly?) enough.
4:00 - Zero shots for the Kings through four minutes.
3:15 - Ruutu with a nice spin move to pick up the puck and get on a breakaway, but Quick blockers away the shot.
1:45 - Ducks get a couple shots on net after a Kings defender falls down behind the net.
0:10 - Ruutu with Ryan and Perry to start.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center. Ducks-Kings. What more could you want?
7:08 p.m. - Another nice job on the anthem by Brad Haynes, and we're ready to go.
Ryan Getzlaf is out after his wife gave birth to their first child, a boy named Ryder, today. Saku Koivu is out with a groin strain. Starters in bold/italics.