Well, home ice proved to have its advantages as the Los Angeles Kings emerged with the final victory in this season’s Freeway Faceoff. The series ends at 2 games a piece, both won by the teams playing on home ice.
The first period started with a dominant performance by the Kings, who seemed to spend the vast majority of the period in the Ducks zone. At around the 10 minute mark of the 1st, Drew Doughty would slap a shot that would bounce off a couple of Ducks players and into the net, making it 1-0 Kings.
The Ducks proved they were not a team to be trifled with however.
Early in the second period, as Anaheim killed off 1 of their 6 penalties, Ryan Getzlaf would go into beast mode. Getzlaf would black a shot in the Ducks zone, chase it into the neutral zone, tap it past Jonathan Quick who had come out to play the puck, and then shoot it over two sprawling Kings defenseman and into the back of the Kings net. Tie game, courtesy: Ryan Getzlaf.
The Ducks would then dominate the better part of the second period, and nearly went up a goal when Bobby Ryan seemingly followed up a great Emerson Etem drive to the net, getting a nice bounce past Jonathan Quick. That bounce, as it would turn out came from a distinct kicking motion, resulting in a no goal for the Ducks. When watching the replay, it appeared as though Bobby had been trying to kick the puck to his stick, but it just happened to end up in the back of the net. Bad break for the Ducks.
Things got worse when the Ducks had to kill of multiple penalties, including a Ben Lovejoy high sticking double minor, and the Kings would finally capitalize in the last minute of the 2nd period. For a period in which the Ducks had dominated, it was a let-down of a way to go into intermission.
The third would end much as it began, the only difference being that the Ducks would get their lone powerplay of the game with under 3 minutes to go. It wouldn’t help the Ducks much as they couldn’t seem to get things going, and the game would end 2-1 with a Kings victory.
Ok, I’m not a big believer in the whole, “refs hate the Anaheim Ducks” conspiracy theory, but something should be said when there’s a 6-1 differential in powerplays between the two teams on the ice. It would be one thing if the Ducks had played an overly emotional and dirty game, but quite frankly, they didn’t. While I don’t believe the Ducks didn’t necessarily deserve the penalties called on them tonight, I struggle to believe that the Kings were saints on the ice. There were hooks and slashes that easily could have been called and weren’t, and amazingly the only penalty called against the Kings was a delay of game against Drew Doughty when he unintentionally threw the puck over the glass in the defensive zone, a penalty that would have been hotly contested had it not been called.
Again, I don’t buy into the conspiracy theories, but something certainly seems to be going on, and the Ducks can’t expect to stay in games when they’re killing 6 penalties and only getting on the powerplay one time. It cost the Ducks tonight, and it will cost them in games to come if something doesn’t change.
The Kings now sit 7 points behind the Ducks in both the Pacific Division and Western Conference standings and stand a very slim chance at the Pacific Division title. It would still require a near Ducks free-fall and a Kings absolute domination for the remaining six games of the season for both teams, but it is still mathematically possible. More likely however is that the Ducks hold onto the Pacific Division as well as 2nd place in the western conference, both good places to be when the playoffs do begin.
So while the Freeway Faceoff may be over we can still hope that the Ducks and Kings will meet in the playoffs and the series which ended in a dead heat this regular season, can be decided in the post. Before then however, let’s just hope the Ducks finish the last 6 strong.