The Los Angeles Kings have been in the deepest valley and to the top of the mountain… and that was just this game. The LA Kings beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 in overtime in Game 1 of their first ever playoff matchup. In a game that could have literally gone either way, Los Angeles comes out victorious to take a very important 1-0 lead in the Western Conference Semi-Finals.
Anaheim did not start the game the way they would have liked as they committed a second penalty in the first ten miutes when Nick Bonino was caught hooking and went into the bin for two. The ensuing power play for the Kings did not start strong, but an eventual attack on the Duck’s Jonas Hiller saw Alec Martinez put in the rebound at point blank range. The all important first goal was LA’s as they went up 1-0
It was only a few minutes later that Anaheim took advatage of Jonathan Quick’s pension to challenege shots at a distance from the goal when Ryan Getzlaf took the puck towards the back of the net. Quick, thinking he had cut off the angle, left room behind him for Getzlaf to pass to an open Matt Beleskey, who had to basically tap it in. The Ducks tied it at 2.
The LA Kings, who are known for their defensive, hard-nosed style of play, did not do nearly as much as the Ducks did in that first period. Anaheim was dominant on the boards in the first period and very good on their checking, which they did a lot of.
Defense was the name of the game because offense was not. If both teams can get more shots on net, then this could possibly be a high scoring series.
1st period stats:
Hits: LA 15, Anaheim 22
Shots: LA 5, Anaheim 7
The second period continued with the back and forth play and not much offense. Both LA and Anaheim got called for two penalties, but both penalty kill units stepped up and denied any access to the go-ahead goal.
The only significant news of the period was an unfortunate injury the Kings. Information came about that Robyn Regehr was done for the game. He had not joined the Kings coming out of the first intermission.
2nd period stats:
Hits: LA 10, Anaheim 13
Shots: LA 10, Anaheim 13
The game continued with the same intensity in the third period. The game finally saw some offense in the game when Teemu Selanne picked up a well-placed through pass from Ryan Getzlaf to slide it underneath Jonathan Quick. The Ducks went up at that point, 2-1.
But this series and the game was just starting.
With about 1:30 left in the game and down by one, Head Coach Darryl Sutter pulled Quick for the extra attacker. The Kings have not been the best with the extra man at the end of the game, but it is always worth the risk.
Finally, that risk came through for the LA Kings. With 7 seconds left off of a rebound in front of Hiller, Marian Gaborik kept chopping at the puck which finally got passed Hiller and rolled over the red line. The game was tied and went into overtime.
3rd period Stats:
Hits: LA 6, Anaheim 16
Shots: LA 16, Anaheim 11
Overtime came and the definition of playoff hockey was this exact post-regulation exhibition of grit and power. Both teams were at each other’s throats and had plenty of chances.
We have to give a special recognition to Alec Martinez who played off his head in the game. He had one goal in the game and a huge save for the Kings when Corey Perry had open net off of rebound. That not only saved the game, but shifted momentum for LA.
Something finally gave between these two teams just over 12 minutes in. On a shot in front of Hiller, once again, Gaborik ruined the Duck’s first dance with the Kings in the playoffs as he directed a laser from Anze Kopitar that took Hiller off his feet. It was brilliant. Kings win, 3-2.
As far momentum, this is the fifth straight game the Kings have won in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. So the Kings are solid in that department, but there are three more games to be won.
The first battle of the War of So Cal was over. The Kings came away victorious in the all-important Game 1 road win. We head to Game 2 on Monday.
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