Randy Carlyle is crazy.
First of all, it was obvious the Ducks did not play their best hockey tonight and it showed in many ways as the Kings held on to their lead for a 4-3 win at Honda Center. The Kings were able to withstand a flurry of Ducks scoring chances at the end to finish on top and take the important divisional win.
Things did not go well for the Ducks starting almost immediately in the first period. Evgeny Artyukhin took a minor penalty just over a minute into the game to put the Ducks shorthanded, something that happened two more times in the period and another two times the rest of the game.
The Kings would ultimately score the first goal of the game just over five minutes into the first period. The Ducks defense was caught looking at the puck and left Scott Parse alone in the slot, and he scored easily on Jonas Hiller to take the lead early. The Kings would then add a power play goal just over six minutes later to take a 2-0 lead.
But the Ducks kept shooting and eventually one was deflected in by Corey Perry. James Wisniewski took a wrist shot from the point that Perry niftily redirected as he skated by the crease, extending his point streak to 19 games and cutting the lead to 2-1 in the process.
The Kings then took control of the game starting in the second period, playing almost the entire second period in the Ducks’ defensive zone. They had 16 shots on goal in the first period and added another 14 in the second, scoring on a slap shot from the point by defenseman Randy Jones. Hiller was screened by his own defense on the play.
Ryan Whitney, however, would close out the period with a Ducks power play goal to bring the Ducks within one goal again. The Ducks just came off a brief 5-on-3 power play when Ryan Getzlaf made a nice one-touch pass to Whitney, who rocketed the puck into the top corner to make the game 3-2 in favor of the Kings.
The Kings would continue to dominate play into the third period, but Todd Marchant got a bit of a lucky bounce to help the Ducks pull even. Matt Beleskey fired a shot on goal from outside the blue line which Jonathan Quick blocked right into the slot. Marchant batted at the bouncing puck and it found its way behind Quick to tie the game at three.
The Ducks were seemingly on their way to overtime when none other than Kent French, a useless Fox Sports reporter, jinxed the team by saying it looked like they’d get “at least” a point out of it. Minutes after his statement, Brad Richardson deflected a Jack Johnson point shot into the net with under three minutes to play in the game.
But the Ducks turned it on beginning the next shift. In an interesting move, Coach Randy Carlyle put the third line on the ice after the goal and they created multiple quality scoring chances. Mike Brown would have had a great chance to tie the game if the puck didn’t roll off his stick, and the Ducks’ defense continued to pound Quick with shots. Johnson eventually took a cross-checking penalty with a minute and a half to play in the game.
Hiller was pulled to give the Ducks a 6-on-4 advantage, and they controlled the puck for the rest of the game. They took shot after shot at Quick, most of them high-quality chances that Quick turned away, but the Ducks eventually ran out of time and were defeated.
To be honest, the Ducks did not deserve to win. It was their worst game in about two weeks, taking bad penalties and playing soft in their own zone. There were numerous opportunities for the Ducks to clear on many different plays, and still the Kings were able to maintain possession, eventually scoring goals. The Ducks never had the lead in the game and dug themselves into a hole from the beginning with three penalties, eventually giving up 42 shots on goal because of the power plays against. In addition, the penalty kills’ streak of 16 straight kills was broken with a first period goal against.
It’s not necessarily the Ducks’ fault either. I blame Carlyle for starting Hiller over J.S. Giguere, who’s been playing spectacularly lately and seems to have returned to his old, dominant self. Giguere lost the last game in overtime, but he played well enough to earn another start tonight. I’ve got nothing against Hiller, in fact I’ve stated in this blog that I prefer him over Giguere in the long-run, but when you have a goalie playing the way Giguere has you’d be crazy not to play him. Randy Carlyle is crazy.
Quick was the main reason the Kings won the game. Although his team had possession of the puck for a majority of the final 40 minutes, Quick made all the big stops for the Kings, particularly in the final three minutes of the game. Even though there were many things the Ducks could improve upon, it was goaltending that was the difference in the game.
The Ducks will travel to Dallas on Wednesday for a tough back-to-back series against the Stars and the Wild on Thursday and Friday, respectively.
From the Associated Press and NHL.com:
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) - Brad Richardson scored the go-ahead goal with 2:20 left in the third period and the Los Angeles Kings beat the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 on Tuesday night in the first meeting of the season between the Southern California rivals.
Anaheim’s Corey Perry had a goal and an assist to extend his point streak to 19 games, tied for the longest by an NHL player since Paul Stastny’s 20-game run in 2006-07. Sidney Crosby also had a 19-game streak for Pittsburgh two seasons ago.
Anaheim is 16 points out of a playoff spot after earning a postseason berth in each of the previous four seasons, while the Kings are trying to make the playoffs for the first time since 2002.
After blowing a two-goal lead, the Kings went back in front when Jack Johnson got the puck from Jones and took a one-timer from the right point that beat Hiller through a maze of players after being tipped by Richardson.
The Ducks got a power-play opportunity after Johnson was sent off for cross-checking rookie Matt Beleskey with 1:35 to play, but came up empty despite a number of close calls.
Trailing 2-0 before a crowd of 14,231 at the 17,174-seat Honda Center, the Ducks got on the board at 14:41 of the first when Perry tipped in James Wisniewski’s wrist shot from just inside the blue line to snap a personal eight-game goal drought.
Jones restored the Kings’ two-goal margin at 6:40 of the second, beating Hiller high to the stick side with a 35-foot slap shot from above the left circle.
But staggered penalties to Richardson and Wayne Simmonds gave Anaheim a 5-on-3 power play for 15 seconds, and Whitney beat Quick high to the glove side at 17:28 of the period with a one-timer from 35 feet just 3 seconds after the first penalty expired. Ryan Getzlaf got an assist for his 300th NHL point.
Marchant got the equalizer with 14:31 left in regulation, beating defenseman Matt Greene to a rebound after Beleskey took a shot that struck Quick on the chest. The assist was Beleskey’s first NHL point.
The Kings opened the scoring at 5:11 of the first. Parse beat Hiller to the stick side for his second NHL goal after Simmonds shook off a check by Beleskey along the left boards and found Parse cruising down the slot unchecked with a brilliant, no-look, backhand pass.
Williams made it 2-0 at 11:33 of the period, redirecting a long wrist shot by Jarret Stoll while Evgeny Artyukhin was off for holding. The goal ended a four-game power-play drought by the Kings in which they were 0 for 13, and a four-game stretch in which the Ducks had killed off all 15 short-handed situations.
NOTES: Anaheim LW Kyle Calder missed his second straight game after getting hit by a deflected puck in practice. … Richardson and teammate Raitis Ivanans are among seven forwards who have played at least 25 games without scoring a goal this season. … The Ducks, who began the day with the league’s second-best power-play percentage (24.5), are 11 for 28 with the man advantage in their last seven games. … The Kings are 10-0-0 when leading after two periods.