The Ducks revitalized their Stanley Cup aspirations Thursday, taking advantage of a late goal by Ben Lovejoy to defeat the Kings, 3-2, in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals in front of a sellout crowd at Staples Center.
The win, which cut the Kings' best-of-seven series lead to two games to one, might have come at a price, however, with Ducks starting goalie Frederik Andersen leaving the game midway through the third period after suffering what the team described as a lower-body injury.
Jonas Hiller, who started in net in the first two games of the series, made seven saves to help preserve the Ducks’ lead and the win. Ducks forward Matt Beleskey also left the game in the third period with a lower-body injury.
The Ducks capitalized on both of their power-play chances, with Teemu Selanne scoring in the second period off a 2-on-1 rush in the closing seconds of a penalty to Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. Corey Perry scored in the first period for the Ducks.
Mike Richards scored for the Kings with 31 seconds left in the game after they pulled goalie Jonathan Quick for the extra attacker, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the Kings from seeing their six-game playoff winning streak come to an end.
Jeff Carter scored the Kings' first goal on a power play in the second period. Quick made 19 saves.
Game 4 is Saturday at Staples Center.
Ducks 2, Kings 1 (end of second period)
The Ducks’ ability to capitalize on Kings mistakes is keeping them in the lead heading into the third period of Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals at Staples Center.
Teemu Selanne scored his second goal of the playoffs late in the period following a 2-on-1 rush created after a Kings turnover. The goal came on a power play only moments after the Kings had killed a 4-on-3 advantage for the Ducks.
The Kings had more offensive opportunities in the second period, and their efforts on the power play allowed them to tie the score. Jeff Carter scored with the man advantage after a pair of beautiful passes from Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik helped set him up in the slot.
The Kings outshot the Ducks, 10-7, in the period and found scoring chances in front of the net in comparison to the first period. Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen, however, has looked solid in his first postseason start against the Kings.
But it was Selanne’s 43rd career goal that would put the Ducks ahead. Will the Ducks hold on and avoid a repeat of the late-game implosion that led to their Game 1 loss?
Ducks 2, Kings 1 (late second period)
Teemu Selanne scored his 43rd career playoff goal during a 2-on-1 rush following a Kings neutral zone turnover to give the Ducks the lead late in the second period.
The goal came seconds after the Kings killed a Ducks power play that featured the Ducks with a 4-on-3 advantage.
Nick Bonino gained control of the puck and passed it behind Kings defenseman Alec Martinez to Selanne, who beat goalie Jonathan Quick glove side.
Kings 1, Ducks 1 (early second period)
Kings forward Jeff Carter scored his third goal of the playoffs on a one-timer from the slot at 4:59 of the second period to tie the score.
Carter’s goal was set up by a couple of quick passes from Anze Kopitar and Marian Gaborik, who found Carter alone between the face-off circle.
The goal came after a high-sticking penalty to Ducks forward Devante Pelly-Smith, which was his second trip to the penalty box so far.
Kopitar extended his point streak to 10 games with the assist. He has four goals and 15 points in the playoffs.
Ducks 1, Kings 0 (end of first period)
The Ducks set out to be more aggressively on offense in Game 3 of their playoff series against the Kings and, so far, that strategy appears to be working.
Corey Perry’s third goal of the playoffs early in the period has given the Ducks the lead heading into the second period at Staples Center. The Ducks generated a few quality scoring chances in the first 20 minutes, but it was Perry’s goal on the power play off a perfectly executed redirected pass from Patrick Maroon that put them on the scoreboard first.
Mathieu Perreault failed to score on a trio of prime scoring chances during the period, two of which were stymied by great saves by Kings goalie Jonathan Quick.
The Ducks outshot the Kings, 10-9, in the period.
Ducks 1, Kings 0 (First period: 4:06)
Corey Perry scored on the power play less than five minutes in Game 3 to give the Ducks the early lead at Staples Center.
A pass from the point by Ryan Getzlaf was immediately redirected on a quick pass from Patrick Maroon to Perry in the slot.
It was Perry’s third goal of the playoffs and came seconds after Kings forward Trevor Lewis drew a penalty for interference.
The Ducks nearly scored earlier in the period when a Kings turnover led to a prime scoring chance for forward Matt Beleskey, whose shot was deflected in front of an open Kings net before being smothered by Quick.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau has promised a more aggressive offensive approach in Game 3, but he’s also changing things up in the crease.
Frederik Andersen will start in goal for the Ducks in his first game since the team’s series-clinching victory over the Dallas Stars in the first round.
Jonas Hiller started the first two games of the series, and despite only giving up a combined five goals in two games, it appears Boudreau is willing to try something different in an effort to jump-start the Ducks.
Andersen didn’t perform well in his last start. He gave up four goals and was pulled in favor of Hiller during the second period of the Ducks’ 5-4 win over the Stars in Game 6 of the first-round playoff series.
The move also might be in response to Hiller’s dismal history at Staples Center. He has a 0-5-2 career record at Staples.
In addition to the changes in goal, defenseman Sami Vatanen will also play his first postseason game for the Ducks. Vatanen’s offensive prowess on the blueline could help the Ducks in their efforts to generate more scoring chances.
The Ducks’ hopes of staying alive in the Stanley Cup playoffs face a critical juncture Thursday as they look to win Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal series against the Kings at Staples Center after dropping the first two games at Honda Center.
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau has promised a more aggressive offensive attack in Game 3 in an effort to crack Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who has been the foundation of the team’s six-game playoff win streak. Quick’s recent performances have drawn comparisons to the caliber of games he had when he backstopped the Kings to their 2012 Stanley Cup win.
Quick’s ability to make big saves and keep rebounds in check was a source of frustration for the Ducks in Game 2.
The Ducks hope to rediscover the offense that made them the NHL’s second highest-scoring team during the regular season. But will it be enough?
Of course, keeping mistakes to a minimum will be critical for the Ducks. The goal they gave up to Marian Gaborik less than a minute into Game 2 put them at a big disadvantage against a Kings defense that allowed the fewest goals in the NHL in regular season.
If the Ducks lose tonight, they’ll need a Kings-like transformation over the rest of series if they’re going to prevent the Kings from reaching the conference finals for the second straight year.