The Anaheim Ducks came into Saturday night’s contest with the Los Angeles Kings needing only one point to clinch the No.1 seed in the Western Conference.
They did just that and more.
After multiple failed shootout attempts by both teams, Devante Smith-Pelly made the most of his opportunity as his shot whistled past Jonathan Quick to end the game and give the Ducks a 4-3 victory in a shootout.
By clinching the No. 1 spot in the Western Conference, the Ducks have secured home ice advantage through the first three rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Anaheim will face Dallas in the Western Conference Quarterfinals beginning next week.
The Ducks nearly pulled off the win in regulation as Matt Beleskey potted his third goal in as many games to give Anaheim a 3-2 lead with less than five minutes to go in the third period.
There were tense moments in the third period for the Ducks as high sticking penalties were called on Nick Bonino and Ben Lovejoy midway through the period. The Ducks were faced with killing off a 5-on-3 Kings’ power play for 46 seconds. Anaheim’s penalty kill rose to the occasion and were able to kill off both penalties without giving up a goal.
Things appeared bleak early as Los Angeles struck first on Dustin Brown‘s 25th goal of the season. Brown picked up a loose puck on the Ducks’ blue line, coasted in and fired a wrist shot past Andersen.
After conceding a goal to the Kings’ captain, Nick Bonino produced the highlight of the night to tie the game at 1-1. After being tripped by a poke check from Quick, Bonino fell to his knees and fired a no-look backhand into the twine that would silence the raucous Staples Center crowd.
Bonino’s goal not only quieted the crowd, but it gave the Ducks some momentum as Andersen settled in and finished with 28 saves.
Smith-Pelly would also score in regulation as Hampus Lindholm put a shot toward the net and it glanced off the skate of Smith-Pelly into the back of the net. There were grumbles all around Los Angeles that it may have been kicked in, but no review occurred and the goal stood, putting the Ducks ahead 2-1 in the second period.
Back and forth play proceeded the rest of the way after Kopitar scored his first goal of the game early in the third period. The tightly-contested match up resulted in free hockey as Kings fans were treated to a five-minute overtime and a shootout.
But Smith-Pelly would make the extra time all worthwhile for the Ducks as he not only helped “Beat LA” once again, but he also gave his team the title “Best in the West.”
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