You recall that Looney Toons skit with Daffy Duck and Bugs Bunny going back and forth, saying it’s “duck season” or “wabbit season?”
That’s how this game at Anaheim felt.
In the first 10 minutes, a depleted Anaheim Ducks — not having top centers Saku Koivu (sore groin) and Ryan Getzlaf (attending the birth of his newborn son) or all-star goalie Jonas Hiller (vertigo, which might be a lengthy ailment) — pretty much said it was the Ducks’ season, holding the Kings up in their own end and outshooting them 5-0.
Momentum can be fickle at times though. And like when Bugs does a little sly thing in the tirade, the Ducks were the ones to lose on the exchange.
Ryan Smyth’s 20th goal of the season came from one of the few forays into Anaheim territory the Kings’ had early on and gave LA a 1-0 lead.
Which, as has been the case this season for the Kings, didn’t last long.
One minute, 19 seconds to be exact, before Anaheim’s Teemu Selanne netted his 20th of the season too to tie.
As stated earlier, momentum can be fickle.
Then the rest of the game was back-and-forth. Which it really shouldn’t have been, given Anaheim’s roster for the night.
Distance shooting was where the luck was generated tonight. Either players got rebounds from far shots (Smyth and Anze Kopitar’s goals came this way), redirected the shot past the goalie (as the Ducks Corey Perry and Selanne did), or, as it was for the game winner, a defenseman just blasting it from the circle, as Willie Mitchell did against Anaheim’s Curtis McElhinney while the latter was swamped with traffic in front of him. Surprising stat to go with that: Neither Drew Doughty for the Kings or Anaheim’s Cam Fowler had a shot tonight. LA’s Jack Johnson’s lone shot produced Smyth’s goal.
So the good news is after Wednesday’s victory, LA zooms to the sixth spot in the standings and finishes the annual Grammy Exile Trip with a 6-1-3 record and a team record 15 points in the road campaign, all vital in a chaotic Western Conference race.
And for the passionate folks, it’s a win over hated Anaheim.
Plus a win tonight against the visiting Wild would move the Kings ahead of them for the fifth spot in the conference, just below Phoenix. The Coyotes were obliterated by Tampa Bay 8-3 earlier in the evening, allowing the San Jose Sharks to take the helm of the Pacific Division with a 3-2 OT win at Pittsburgh.
The bad news is the kinks — looking flat against “lesser” or injured teams (see the Penguins loss on this trip) and letting up goals after netting one — are still there.