The Anaheim Ducks prevented going down three games to none in their Western Conference semi-final, edging the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 at the Staples Center. They snapped the Kings’ six-game winning streak.
Some thoughts from last night’s game:
Frederik Andersen got the start for Anaheim, his first game action since he was pulled after getting shelled in game six against Dallas.
Andersen’s success at the Staples Center certainly weighed in: he was 2-0-0 this season, with a lofty .941 SV% and 1.92 GAA. Jonas Hiller has never won at the Staples Center (0-5-2 all time).
He didn’t finish the game however, as he left midway through the third with a lower-body injury. Hiller, who lost the first two games of the series, came in and was steady, to his credit.
Do the Ducks trust Hiller enough to go back to him in another crucial game? Or is the John Gibson show closer than we thought?
Both teams’ power plays were humming last night, both going perfect. The Kings’ PK at home is the worst of any playoff team (71%).
Corey Perry opened the scoring off a nice passing play with Ryan Getzlaf and Patrick Maroon on the PP. The Ducks improved 5-0 when Perry gets a point this postseason.
Patrick Maroon has really found a nice role with the Ducks. He’s getting a hell of an opportunity skating with Getzlaf and Perry on the PP and is taking advantage of it.
Maroon is on a six-game point streak, the longest points spree by a rookie since Warren Rychel did it for the Kings 21 years ago.
Another game, another point for Anze Kopitar. In other news, the sky is blue.
Drew Doughty is usually on the opposite end of a bone-crunching hit, but he gets smoked by Matt Beleskey here:
Dustin Brown wasn’t to be outdone as the Kings’ captain and most frequent hitter got some revenge for his defenceman. He dropped Beleskey, forcing the Anaheim winger to leave the game with a lower-body ailment.
Sami Vatanen got into his first game of the spring, playing just north of 20 minutes. He led the Ducks in power play time.
Mike Richards finally opened his account this postseason, scoring an irrelevant goal in the final minute. It was his first goal since March 25th; he’s really fallen off and isn’t the same presence he once was.
To digress a bit: with how Richards has declined so sharply after he hit the wrong side of 30 years old, I’d be a wary GM if I’m looking at trading for Ryan Kesler this summer. They play similar styles, and wouldn’t be surprising if his game fell off in a similar fashion to Richards.
Richards was dominant on the draw at least, winning 69%. Teammate Jarret Stoll was 75%.
L.A. finished 26th in goals for during the regular season; they lead the NHL in goals this postseason. The Marian Gaborik factor has been huge.
It was the first game the Ducks’ defence looked stifling. After jumping to the early 1-0 lead, they didn’t give the Kings much in terms of sustained pressure. Vatanen’s puck moving ability was invaluable in that regard.
I’d love to see Boudreau give more ice or PP time to Mathieu Perreault. He’s crafty and has a ton of offensive talent. He’s barely skating 10 minutes a game, and saw the second least amongst Ducks’ forwards last night. Perreault is a skilled guy, he needs to play with skilled players.
If he’s toiling on the fourth line, he’s useless. Might as well have a guy like Daniel Winnik in the lineup, who can add other dimensions to the Ducks’ roster and give them a different look.
The best-of-seven series continues at the Staples Center tomorrow night.
Freelance sports writer. Ex-intern at The Hockey News and 680 News.