Time to start anew.
A game after winning in an overtime they mandated by scoring with seven seconds remaining in regulation, the Kings this time were out-shot by the high-powered Ducks, 37-17, and still walked out the winners with Game 3 on Thursday at Staples Center.
“They're probably not feeling too good about themselves, and they haven't seen our best,” Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said after his team allowed only a first-period power-play goal to the NHL's second-best scoring team.
But that was in the regular season, when the Ducks answered a five-game losing skid to the Kings at Staples Center by going 4-0-1 against their freeway rivals.
“It's frustrating, because this is the time of year guys need to score,” Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said. “In the season, they played the puck-possession game, but we got timely goals and beat them. Now, they're getting the timely goals and we're not putting them in the back of the net.”
The primary reason for that is because the front of that net is occupied by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, the Stanley Cup winner of 2012 who stopped 36 shots Monday in the Kings' sixth consecutive playoff victory.
“The best player on the ice tonight was the goaltender for the Kings,” said Darryl Sutter, the Kings' coach.
The Pacific Division-champion Ducks maintained they couldn't wait to get back on the ice after feeling they outplayed the Kings in Saturday's overtime loss. Yet, it was the same Kings forward who decided the opener by striking first again on Monday.
A fight and a hooking call on Doughty led to a four-on-three Ducks advantage that forward Patrick Maroon converted by backhanding a shot that struck the left skate of Kings defenseman Jake Muzzin, sliding past Quick to make it 1-1, and ending the Kings' streak of 19 successful penalty kills.
Less than three minutes later, the Kings re-took the lead when defenseman Alec Martinez scored for the second time this series by launching a shot inside the blue line that struck off Ducks forward Jakob Silfverberg and sailed by Hiller.
The Kings' grind-it-out style shined in allowing the fewest goals in the NHL this season.
With a lead, the discipline is enhanced. An extra benefit came when Ducks forward Matt Beleskey was sent to the box for interference and tripping penalties in the second period.
Quick stopped 12 shots in the second and 15 more in the third, getting his final margin when Dwight King scored an empty-net goal with 58 seconds remaining.
“Historically, we've been good at holding leads, but we found a way to squeak one out because [of Quick],” Kings center Dustin Brown said.
“They had better chances, more shots, the better opportunities, but Jonathan Quick usually finds a way to win a game.”
The Ducks failed to convert on two power plays in the scoreless second period. In the third, two short-handed chances were denied, and the Kings inserted defenseman Jeff Schultz, in his Kings debut, into a final third-period penalty kill capped by Quick's stopping Ducks goals leader Corey Perry.
“We know how good they are, especially on the power play,” Schultz said. “I'm sure they're getting frustrated.”
Said Doughty: “I'm sure they think they've played two good games and they've got unlucky bounces. We're fine with that. We're up 2-0, excited to go back to Staples.”