By Adam Brady (firstname.lastname@example.org)
ANAHEIM – The Ducks defensemen did their part in the offensive zone, but not enough on the other end of the ice in a 4-2 loss to the Kings in front of a raucous 17,367 at Honda Center.
Cam Fowler and Luca Sbisa each lit the lamp, but the Ducks gave up 43 shots to the low-scoring Kings to drop their fifth game in six meetings in the Freeway Face-Off series. (Anaheim managed just 20 shots on the night.)
"We played hard at the end and in the second half of the game, but we weren’t ready to play this hockey game," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. "It starts in the first period and we weren’t ready to start on time."
The Kings came into the game next-to-last in the NHL with 2.20 goals per game, but erupted for three in the first period to put Anaheim in an early hole. Fowler got one back in the second and Sbisa struck early in the third to get the Ducks to within a goal. Sbisa, who like Corey Perry returned tonight from a two-game injury absence, slalomed between a few Kings before firing from the right wing circle and punching in his own rebound.
That made it 3-2 Kings, where it remained until Mike Richards found the empty net with 10.2 seconds left (his first goal in 25 games) after Anaheim won the draw in the LA end but couldn’t get the puck deep. Jonas Hiller had tried on several occasions to head to the bench in the last minute, but the Ducks got called for a couple of intentional offsides while trying to get the puck into the attacking zone.
Hiller did all he could with 39 saves on the night, including some remarkable ones that kept the Ducks in the game. "Our goalie played awesome again tonight," Getzlaf said, "and we weren’t able to get back into that game."
Anaheim fell well behind through one period, as the Kings scored three unanswered, starting with an Alec Martinez point shot past a shielded Hiller 2:40 into the game.
Halfway through the period, Anze Kopitar sniped a perfect shot on the rush that darted over Hiller’s glove just under the bar.
LA made it 3-0 with 1:08 left after Perry was tripped by teammate Sheldon Brookbank and lost the puck, leading Drew Doughty to connect with Justin Williams for the tap-in.
"We knew they were going to come out hard, so it’s even more disappointing the way we played in the first period," Sbisa said. "If you go down 3-0 after 20 minutes, it’s tough to come back."
Added Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau, "They outplayed us really badly and they came away with the 3-0 lead. It’s hard to come back after that against a good team, especially a good defensive team like that."
Anaheim got one back on the power play 3:41 into the middle session, as Fowler’s one-timer caught Jonathan Quick between the pads and trickled underneath him over the stripe. It was Fowler’s first goal since December 4, and broke a string of 33 straight penalties killed by the Kings.
The Ducks got another power play on a Trevor Lewis elbowing penalty with under six minutes left in the game, but didn’t threaten.
Anaheim suffered its fourth loss in the last five and all but buried its playoff hopes.
"Everybody knew the importance," Boudreau said. "We knew what we were up against. We knew LA had come out exactly the same way against Detroit the other day. We knew they had three days off. We knew what to expect. There was no excuse for them coming out, just dominating and winning every battle like they did."
20:00 - Ducks drop their fifth in six games vs. LA, 4-2.
19:49 - LOS ANGELS GOAL (EMPTY NET) - MIKE RICHARDS - Ducks lose the puck soon after the draw and it's sent ahead to Richards, who finds the empty net from the Anaheim blue line with 10.2 left. It's 4-2.
19:36 - Ryan fires from the wing just as Hiller heads off, but Quick covers it easily with 23.4 left.
19:08 - Getzlaf tries a slapped stretch pass, but it's tipped and the Ducks are offside. For some reason, puck comes back to Anaheim end, as officials say it was intentional.
19:01 - Ducks get control, but Ryan ices it trying to his Cogliano.
18:55 - Intentional offside called on the Ducks, so it's a draw in their own end. Timeout Ducks with 1:05 left. Hiller will come off as soon as the Ducks get control.
17:50 - Lydman takes a cross check in the back, no call. Kings then come close to too many men.
17:15 - Ducks whacking at a loose puck in the crease, but it comes out.
15:20 - Ducks having trouble keeping it in the Kings' zone.
14:05 - LAK Penalty - Trevor Lewis, 2 min. elbowing. Lewis gets Fowler near the wall and the Ducks have a PP with 5:55 left. Feels like Teemu time.
12:07 - Fowler's shot held by Quick. Selanne was there for the rebound.
11:30 - Ducks kill. Now need to get to work.
11:00 - Boudreau going livid on the bench. Wanted a call on the takedown of Beauchemin.
10:05 - Richards shot is deflected off the crossbar. Yikes.
9:30 - ANA Penalty - Toni Lydman, 2 min. tripping. Lydman ties up Lewis' stick. Lewis falls.
8:30 - Hiller knocks away the Kings' 40th shot.
7:29 - Hiller puts an end to the Ducks' madness in their zone, with one guy's stick on the ice, by gloving a shot and holding on. Timeout.
6:55 - Hiller with another big stop, on Brown.
6:40 - Blake looks like he's hurt his hand trying to catch the puck. He's still on the bench.
4:15 - Sbisa almost gives one back with a bad turnover in front of the net, but Hiller bails him out with some glove robbery of Carter.
3:53 - ANAHEIM GOAL - LUCA SBISA - Absolutely gargantuan goal as Sbisa weaves his way through several Kings before firing from the right wing circle, punching in his own rebound to light this place up. It's 3-2.
2:29 - ANA Penalty - Bobby Ryan and LAK Penalty - Colin Fraser, 2 min. each roughing. After the whistle, a little bit of a scuffle involving the top-liners and some Kings. Fraser, who had gone low to take down Perry, throws a couple at Ryan and gets one back.
2:27 - Perry sneaks in for a one-timer that Quick recovers on to knock it away.
0:00 - Here we go in the third, the Ducks with some work to do.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Ducks get outshot 19-6 but get one back from Fowler and trail it 3-1.
17:45 - Huge stop with the leg pad by Hiller after Brown picked up a loose puck and was in alone.
17:30 - Perry working hard to keep the puck alive, then a big hit by Getzlaf.
15:30 - Perry with a rare shot for the Ducks, which Quick corrals.
12:10 - Shots on goal are 16-4 in favor of the Kings this period.
6:23 - More scariness in front of the Anaheim net, but Hiller hangs on. Kings outshooting Ducks, 24-11.
6:00 - Palmieri with a nice job banking the puck off the wall and chasing it down, but can't do anything with it.
3:41 - ANAHEIM GOAL (POWER PLAY) - CAM FOWLER - Getzlaf kicks the puck to himself and feeds Fowler for the one-timer that hits Quick between the pads and trickles behind him over the stripe. First goal since December 4 for Fowler, and it's an important one. It's 3-1.
3:17 - LAK Penalty - Drew Doughty, 2 min. holding. Blake crashes in, and Quick pokes it away just after the hold by Doughty. Can't emphasize enough how much the Ducks need one here.
2:20 - Cogliano has some space after a Ducks steal, but his pass doesn't hit the target.
0:00 - Off and running in the second.
20:00 - END OF PERIOD - Rough start for the Ducks and it's 3-0.
19:52 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - JUSTIN WILLIAMS - Perry is looking for a shot, but he's taken down by Brookbank's skate and loses the puck. That sends the Kings off on a rush, where Doughty feeds into the crease to Williams for the tip-in. It's 3-0 Kings.
18:50 - Quick sticks the puck in front of himself, but Hagman can't punch it in.
18:17 - Kings kill without much threat from Anaheim, aside from a Palmieri shot.
17:00 - Richards with a shorthanded bid. No shots yet for the Ducks on the PP.
16:17 - LAK Penalty - Matt Greene, 2 min. holding. Greene pulls down Selanne in the slot. Ducks badly need something here.
It's an Irish-themed Kiss Cam for St. Patrick's Day, which pretty much just means there is green lipstick and shamrocks on the video board. It ends with some dude giving a girl a kiss on the side of the head. I don't think they knew each other. Check that, it ends with two dudes in Kings jerseys refusing to smooch.
15:23 - Ducks kill again.
13:23 - ANA Penalty - Devante Smith-Pelly, 2 min. high sticking. Smith-Pelly gets tied up in front of the net, and as he's trying to pull his stick down, it gets a King in the face.
13:20 - Third line of Smith-Pelly, Cogliano and Hagman working it so far.
9:33 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - ANZE KOPITAR - Kings get on the rush after a couple of Quick stops and Kopitar wrists a shot from the left wing circle that's pretty much unstoppable for Hiller, darting over the glove and just under the bar. It's 2-0.
9:20 - Smith-Pelly tries to hook it in, but Quick denies.
Air guitar battle at the timeout goes decidedly in the Ducks fan's favor over the Kings fan, based on fan applause.
7:36 - Hiller with a big stop on a Richards one-timer thank hangs tough as King tries to force in the rebound.
5:47 - Ducks kill.
5:00 - Scary times as the puck is under Hiller's leg pad, and he can't find it, but it's swept away in time.
3:23 - ANA Penalty - Sheldon Brookbank, 2 min. interference. Brookbank knocks down Brown from behind at center ice.
2:40 - LOS ANGELES GOAL - ALEC MARTINEZ - Martinez throws a shot on net from the high left wing and it sails past Beauchemin and Nolan (trying unsuccessfully to tip it) before getting behind Hiller, who was blinded. It's 1-0 early.
2:20 - Perry with a pass from the corner right in front to a skidding Palmieri, who doesn't get a stick on it.
0:00 - And we're underway at Honda Center. I'm pumped.
Both Perry and Sbisa in there after missing two games with injuries. Surprise, since Boudreau had hinted they wouldn't go. Starters in bold/italics.