The Los Angeles Kings edged the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 last night, forcing yet another Game 7. The winner takes on the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks in the Conference Final.
Some thoughts from last night’s game:
The Kings looked very Daryl Sutter-y again last night. They were skating and throwing their weight around a ton in the first, setting the tone early.
Kyle Clifford was one of those physical catalysts, throwing four hits in opening frame. He was a man-seeking missile, who didn’t appreciate sitting out Game 5. A statement game from the fourth year pro.
The game winner came off a weak wrister from depth forward Trevor Lewis, his fourth of the campaign:
Anyone remember when Trevor Lewis was a first-round pick, with solid two-way potential as a point-producing, top-six forward? Yeah, me neither.
That goal was a rare mistake from new celebrity goaltender John Gibson. Still, hard to complain when he only allows two goals, regardless of how they went in.
Francois Beachuemin was a defensive blanket for the Ducks, smothering the Kings’ go-to guys for the majority of the night. He’s been going head-to-head with the opposition’s best all season and playoffs, but last night he was rock solid with a yeoman effort.
Cam Fowler was a horse as well, leading the Ducks in ice-time, and defencemen in PP and SH time on ice.
As one team goes, so goes the other. In Game 3, both teams scored on all their PP chances. In last night’s game, both went scoreless in nine chances combined. The Ducks’ PP was especially stinky, and really why they lost the game. Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Sami Vatanen, and Fowler all saw over SIX minutes of PP time.
Bruce Boudreau, talking about his team’s PP: “It stunk. Did we get any shots on five attempts? Nothing A-1.”
Getzlaf was held pointless for the first time in the series. He also lost 14 of 20 faceoffs.
When I mention Getzlaf, I have to mention Anze Kopitar. He added another assist to his league-leading totals, but hasn’t scored a goal this series.
Jake Muzzin has really emerged as a solid top-four guy. He’s been playing a load of minutes for Sutter alongside Drew Doughty and doesn’t look out of place. Dependable in his own zone, and underrated offensive ability, evidenced when he jumped up into the play to open last night’s scoring.
Do the Kings have the edge in Game 7 thanks to their experience? In the past two seasons, L.A. is an imposing 7-1 in do-or-die games, and are 5-0 this spring.
There’s also the Justin Williams factor. He’s a proven big game player, as he showed us recently in the last round against the Sharks. Williams hasn’t scored so far this series either – so he’s probably saving it for Game 7.
Defenceman Drew Doughty: “Our team is built to play in these kinds of games. Our leaders show the way, and everyone follows. We look forward to playing in these games. We’re not nervous.”
Prediction: Kings top the Ducks 3-2.
The series comes to its conclusion Friday night at the Honda Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS).