The L.A. Kings got off to a fast start in Friday’s Game 7 showdown. Too fast for their opponents, the Anaheim Ducks.
The Kings worked up a 3-0 lead after the opening 20 minutes, on goals from Justin Williams – we’ve talked about him and his Game 7 prowess a lot, haven’t we? – Jeff Carter and Mike Richards. The Ducks, well, they couldn’t get much of anything going in the offensive end, except for a Corey Perry penalty shot attempt that was thwarted by Jonathan Quick.
And as soon as this game had started, it was essentially over. We’ve seen comebacks before in these playoffs. Not tonight. And the Kings kept pushing, chasing rookie goalie John Gibson from the Anaheim net in the second period and eventually winning this game and the series.
By the sounds of it – and by the looks of it, too – the Ducks simply weren’t prepared for this game.
“I think we were individually and collectively blown away by what they were doing,” said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, as per Curtis Zupke of NHL.com.
“That first period was like men against boys, quite frankly. They were bigger, stronger faster, seemed more determined,” he added.
And with that, the Kings advance back to the Western Conference Final for the third consecutive year. That’s impressive.
Added Boudreau, as per Greg Beacham of the Associated Press: I want to give the Los Angeles Kings a little bit of credit. They played like Stanley Cup champions.”
Yesterday, Kings head coach Darryl Sutter raised some eyebrows by saying his team was the underdog going into Friday’s Game 7 versus the Ducks in Anaheim.
It really raised Bruce Boudreau’s eyebrows, because Boudreau insists his Ducks are the true underdogs.
From TSN’s Mark Masters:
Just to be clear, it seems obvious that neither team is an underdog (or overdog, if that exists) — they’re about as evenly-matched as you would expect from two bitter divisional foes going to Game 7 after being tied 13-13 on aggregate through the first six games of the series.
The Ducks have won four home games this postseason, the Kings have won four road games this postseason. The Ducks have the sixth-best power play, the Kings have the seventh. See where I’m going here? There’s just not much to choose between the two.
Online oddsmaker Bovada agrees. The Kings are slight underdogs at 1/1 for tomorrow’s Game 7 while the Ducks are at 5/6.
The Anaheim Ducks will lament, at least for now, missed opportunities on the power play Wednesday evening.
The Ducks lost Game 6 of their second-round series against the L.A. Kings, and the two teams will now need a seventh and deciding game to see who advances to the Western Conference Final. Anaheim’s power play went 0-for-5 and had only six shots registered on Jonathan Quick during their combined time on the man advantage.
“It stunk. Did we get any shots on five attempts? Nothing A1,” said Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, as per LA Kings Insider.
The Ducks’ power play in the series had been running at a pretty good clip in the first two games at the Staples Center, going 3-for-5 combined in Games 3 and 4. Not nearly the same efficiency in Game 6.
Down by only a goal late in the third period, the Ducks were unable to capitalize when Kings’ defenseman Slava Voynov was sent off for a hard high stick on Mathieu Perreault. The Kings, even in the midst of absolute chaos in and around their net in the final two minutes, managed to hang on to force a Game 7.
Quick was also strong in this elimination game, making 21 saves on 22 shots he faced.
Bruce Boudreau oversaw four playoff runs with the Washington Capitals, but the talented squad headlined by Alex Ovechkin never got past the second round. If they had, perhaps he wouldn’t be in Anaheim now.
His Ducks are just one win away from taking him to a conference final for the first time in his career as a head coach. If Anaheim beats Los Angeles in Game 6 tonight, it will be proof that he is capable of guiding a squad through a deep postseason run, even if he couldn’t make it work with Washington.
Perhaps there’s someone on the Ducks that wants this win even more though. At the age of 39, this might be Saku Koivu’s last chance to finally get to the conference final.
“I think Saku, especially,” Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf said, per NHL.com. “[Teemu] always wants to go out on a high note, I’m sure. Given the opportunity, I’m sure he’d love to. Saku, I know, really wants this. He wants to get to the Finals. He wants an opportunity to play for that Cup, and we’d love to give it to him.”
The Ducks know they can’t get ahead of themselves. The Kings want this too. Koivu, Boudreau, and the rest of the Ducks won’t get past them without earning it.
Anaheim Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen will miss Game 4 against the Los Angeles Kings tonight because of a lower-body injury. If he was healthy, he would have probably started.
As it is, the decision is down to netminders Jonas Hiller and 20-year-old John Gibson. In other words, the veteran who struggled late in the regular season and lost the starting job in the playoffs or the promising rookie that has just three games worth of NHL experience.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau isn’t about to tip his hand.
“(Gibson’s) going to be a great goalie,” Boudreau said, per the Los Angeles Times’ Helene Elliott. “I don’t know if he’s today’s goalie.”
That’s not the only question mark for Anaheim as the Ducks announced that forward Mathieu Perreault (lower body) will be a game-time decision.
Like Andersen, Perreault was hurt during Thursday’s game. Forward Matt Beleskey also sustained a lower-body injury during that contest, but he has been ruled out by the Ducks. Daniel Winnik will make his series debut as a result.
The game will start at 9:30 p.m. ET and air on NBCSN. Los Angeles has a 2-1 series lead.