By: Matthew Garcia
The Los Angeles Kings and the Anaheim Ducks engaged in the fourth edition of the Freeway Face-off. The two teams squared off against one another just last week back at the Honda Center in which the Ducks won by a final score of 1-0 with goaltender John Gibson recording his 10th shutout of his career. In this game, there were different goalies for both teams as John Gibson is currently on the IR due to a lower body injury so Jonathan Bernier was the man between the pipes for Anaheim. Los Angeles has activated Jonathan Quick off the IR and will make his return to the crease after missing 59 games this season. The Ducks also had a new face in the line-up after making a trade with the Dallas Stars. Patrick Eaves made his Anaheim debut against the Kings, Eaves this season has 21 goals and 16 assists. Anaheim hopes that Eaves will help with the scoring woes that the Ducks have been facing recently.
The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks tend to play a very tight checking game, and through the first eight minutes of the game that is what we have witnessed as the shots on goal to this point favor the Kings just three-to-two. The first power play of the game would be awarded to the Kings as Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg would get penalized two minutes for Interference. Anaheim’s Josh Manson in recent games has been making his presence known both on the score sheet and hits column, Alec Martinez learned that one quick as Manson stepped up and made a huge hit along the boards at the blue line. The Ducks would be successful in killing off their first penalty of the game allowing just a single shot on goal. Next, it would be the Kings’ turn to head to the penalty box as Brayden McNabb would get a penalty for holding the stick. The Kings would also be successful in killing off their first penalty, but a lapse after the penalty kill would see Anaheim strike as Silfverberg would intercept a pass in the neutral zone and quickly enter the attacking zone where Andrew Cogliano would re-direct a nice pass from Ryan Kesler up past Quick to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead late in the first period. Immediately following the Anaheim goal the Kings would go right back to the penalty kill as Dwight King would be on the receiving end of a tripping call against Eaves. Kings would once again kill off the penalty with ease as Anaheim would be unable to register a single shot on goal. First-period horn would sound with the Ducks taking a 1-0 lead into the intermission.
It wouldn’t take long for Anaheim to get their third power play opportunity just 01:25 into the second period as Adrian Kempe would get called for interference against Ondrej Kase, the Ducks would be unable to fire one past Quick, though Hampus Lindholm has the best opportunity on the power play as he would get one past Quick, but not past the crossbar. Kings would remain perfect on the penalty kill. Shortly after the Kings kill off the penalty the Ducks would get penalized as Nick Ritchie would sit two minutes for cross-checking against McNabb, after he laid a check on Anaheim captain Ryan Getzlaf. The Ducks would kill off the penalty assessed to Ritchie while not allowing the Kings to get set up or any good looks on Bernier. Midway through the period is when things started to get a little heated as Kevin Bieksa would step up on Drew Doughty, but that would be a precursor to what is to come. The next whistle would see a big pile in the Ducks’ zone. Emerging out of the pile would be Nate Thompson and McNabb with their gloves dropped. After the altercations, each team would have two people sitting. McNabb and Thompson for fighting, Corey Perry for interference, and King for high-sticking.
The Kings would get their third power play opportunity of the game as Korbinian Holzer would sit two minutes for cross-checking on Kyle Clifford. The Ducks would be able to kill off their third penalty of the game, despite some good chances for the Kings, but Bernier would be up to the task turning aside several King chances. Kesler and Jeff Carter would be the next combatants in the fighting festivities, Kesler would only need one punch to end the scrap hitting Carter right on the button to summon the intervention of the linesman. The second period horn would sound to end the period with the Ducks still on top 1-0. The second period would register a total of 30 penalty minutes.
Entering the third period of play the Los Angeles Kings looked to draw even, and early as the Kings would enter the attacking zone and get a couple of opportunities that Bernier would turn aside to help hold the Ducks lead. They wouldn’t be successful in the first few attempts but would eventually get the game-tying goal just 03:37 in as Tyler Toffoli would convert on a rebound that squeaked away from Bernier. The hitting picked up right where it left off in the second as Holzer lined up Jordan Nolan in the neutral zone that would send him to the locker room. The Kings would not be done with their scoring as Toffoli would pot his second of the game at the 07:38 mark of the third to give LA a 2-1 lead. Then just 17 seconds later Dustin Brown would redirect a point shot from Kevin Gravel past Bernier to give the Kings a 3-1 lead. Anaheim would get an opportunity on the power play to draw within one but would no be able to convert, as Quick would stop several point-blank chances to preserve the two goal lead. On the tail end of the power play, Perry would get a two-minute minor for slashing as he would take a chop at Quick going after a loose puck in the crease. The Kings would add the insurance tally as Carter would put the puck into the empty net to give LA a 4-1 lead. The third period horn would sound and the Ducks would drop their last game before heading into the mandatory five-day bye week.
Final Score: Ducks-1 Kings-4
The Ducks offensive struggles continue, even with the acquisition of Patrick Eaves from Dallas, despite being held off the score sheet Eaves had some quality chances that would just be turned aside by Quick. The Ducks played a very strong game through the first two periods but a collapse in the third would see LA quickly strike to erase the lead that Anaheim had been working to preserve. Bernier played very well throughout the game, but a lapse in the defense led to some odd-man breaks and point-blank opportunities that the Kings did not waste. Anaheim now enters the bye week sitting in third place within the Pacific Division with Calgary just six points behind them and will look to close that gap while Anaheim is inactive. Once the Ducks come back from break they will need to find ways to get the puck into the net if they want to find success down the stretch and into the playoffs.
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February 26th, 2017