The LA Kings dominated the Anaheim Ducks on Tuesday night, highlighted by Brendan Lemieux’s first scrap in a Kings uniform.
The LA Kings are fighting for the fourth playoff spot in the West Division, literally. In Tuesday night’s Freeway Faceoff, Todd McLellan’s group looked fresh, dominating all facets of the game, and left with a 4-1 victory. The Kings are also only five points behind the Coyotes for the final playoff spot, with three games in hand.
Los Angeles jumped out to a 4-0 lead before Anaheim responded with a goal late in the third period. Carl Grundstrom opened the scoring with a puck that deflected off his back and got past Ducks’ netminder Anthony Stolarz 5:26 into the opening period.
Anze Kopitar and Andreas Athanasiou tallied their tenth goals of the season just over two minutes apart in the middle frame. Blake Lizotte added the cherry on top, his third of the season at the midway point of the final period.
Drew Doughty made one of the best individual efforts of the night, diving in front of Adam Henrique‘s shot from the slot to stop what would have been a goal in the final seconds of the second period. The Kings had a 3-0 lead at the time, but a goal there would have given the Ducks some confidence heading into the locker room.
“Honestly, for a D man, blocking a big shot like that, that’s like scoring a goal for us,” Doughty said after the game. “We obviously like to score goals more than block shots. For us, it’s something to be proud of. Blocked shots are a huge part of this game. A lot of players aren’t willing to do it.”
Playing in just his sixth game with the LA Kings, Brendan Lemieux lived up to his reputation, dropping the gloves with Josh Manson. The former led the rush up ice for the Kings with just under seven minutes to play in regulation.
After dishing the puck to Austin Wagner to take to the net, Lemieux and Manson got tangled up, falling into the Ducks’ net. Manson continued to push Lemieux despite the two still being in the net, and the latter didn’t take too kindly to it.
Lemieux appeared to mouth that he hurt his hand from the penalty box, so that will be important to monitor heading into Friday’s season finale with the Minnesota Wild.
Of course, Tuesday marked the first time that fans could be in the stands at STAPLES Center and a crowd of just over 1400 people did just enough for McLellan to take notice.
“That tape of that generic fan noise – we can throw that thing away. I hope I never hear that again. It was nice just to hear the fans get excited. Hear the fans get upset. It felt right. Finally,” McLellan said.
As noted, the Kings and Wild will conclude their season series on Friday, with puck drop set for 7 pm PT.
Also, please be sure to check out our latest podcast episode with Ontario Reign’s Boko Imama.