The Battle for SoCal was 20 years in the making and it has finally arrived.
After the Anaheim Ducks took out the Dallas Stars in six games and the Los Angeles Kings came back from a 3-0 deficit to advance, the Freeway Face-Off in playoffs for the first time in history began on Saturday night.
As expected, it started with a bang.
With the Ducks clinging to a 2-1 lead, Marian Gaborik tied the game with seven seconds left and ended it in overtime as the Kings stole Game 1 3-2 at Honda Center on Saturday night.
Game 2 is Monday night in Anaheim.
The Ducks were seven seconds away from taking Game 1, but couldn’t hold of the Kings. Gaborik was waiting in front of the net and a centering puck popped up into the air. Gaborik knocked it down out of the air and under the pads of Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller to send the game into overtime.
A little bit of puck luck helped Gaborik in the overtime session as Anze Kopitar sent the puck toward Gaborik who tipped the rubber off the post and off the back of Hiller past the red line to give the Kings a stunning Game 1 victory.
Gaborik also added an assist while Kopitar dished out three helpers in the win.
Anaheim started the contest with two quick penalties to Teemu Selanne and Nick Bonino. Los Angeles took advantage of the Bonino hooking penalty and got on the board first. Alec Martinez scored his first of the playoffs after taking a pass from Gaborik and flung it past Hiller for a 1-0 lead.
Nearly three minutes later, Matt Beleskey would capitalize as Jonathan Quick was out of position challenging Ryan Getzlaf. Instead of putting the puck on net, Getzlaf skated behind the goal and fed the rubber to Beleskey who put it in the empty net to tie the game at 1-1.
The second period was back and forth but no one could find the back of the net. Both teams fired 10 shots on goal in the period as Hiller and Quick stood their ground.
Hiller, who started his first game of the playoffs, had a strong game finishing with 33 saves on 36 shots. The Swiss netminder came up huge on a Kings’ power play opportunity midway through the third period, coming up with big saves to preserve the lead.
Selanne put the Ducks up 2-1 with a goal midway through the third period. Patrick Maroon was charging toward the goal with Selanne flying up the wing. Maroon let Selanne take over and the Finnish Flash slid the puck under Quick for the lead.
However, the goal didn’t create enough cushion for the Ducks to hold off the Kings in Game 1.
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