In what turned out to be a surprisingly clean game, the Ducks were handily ouplayed by a young Kings squad. Eighteen-year-old Brayden Schenn, the Kings’ top draft pick in June, led the way with two goals in addition to goals by Ryan Smyth and Anze Kopitar.
The Ducks have fallen in to their usual trend of taking penalties early and often while digging themselves a big hole to climb out of. With Saku Koivu off for a hooking penalty, Schenn put in his own rebound past Jonas Hiller just over four minutes into the first period for a powerplay goal. The only other action of the first period was an uneventful fight between Wayne Simmonds and Steve McCarthy.
The second period wasn’t much better in terms of scoring. Smyth was able to break free from a Ryan Whitney check and jam the puck past Hiller just over halfway into the period. Then about five minutes later Schenn scored again on a three-on-one break with Thomas Hickey and Dustin Brown. Hickey was able to get Ducks defenseman McCarthy to leave his feet before getting a pass over to Schenn, who fired the puck by Hiller on the glove side.
The Ducks were able to draw four powerplay chances in the second, and finally converted with 32 seconds remaining in the period. Koivu was able to slide the puck through Kings goalie Jonathan Bernier just as Bernier had lost his goal stick. A Kings defender tried handing Bernier another stick, but the goalie was unable to get the stick flat on the ice to protect the goal.
Kevin Westgarth caused some concern for the Ducks when he came across with a big hit on Luca Sbisa. Westgarth then high-sticked Petteri Nokelainen before George Parros came over to challenge Westgarth to a fight. This fight, too, was quite tame and neither connected with any punches. The Westgarth hit on Sbisa was clean and Sbisa was not hurt on the play.
The third period was much the same as the first. The Ducks continued the parade to the penalty box and never had a chance to get the offense going. Kopitar finished off the game with an empty net goal with just 15 seconds to play, giving the Kings an easy victory.
Steve Eminger and Koivu were by far the worst Ducks players on the ice. Eminger had six minutes in penalties while Koivu took a couple of minors himself, and the two had a combined plus/minus rating of minus-5. Teemu Selanne was also minus-3 for the game, just as Koivu was. Dare I say the Koivu-Selanne experiment has backfired? I seem to recall a similar situation in which Selanne and former-Duck Paul Kariya bolted for the Colorado Avalanche, only to have the season end in misery. It would be disappointing, to say the least, if that were the case here, but it’s obviously much too early to make that call today.
Hiller and Bernier each played the entire game for their respective clubs. To be fair, though, the Kings played with a much more NHL-ready lineup than the Ducks, who were missing Ryan Getzlaf, Bobby Ryan, and Scott Niedermayer, arguably the three best players on the team.
Not long before the start of the game, the Ducks announced the reassignment of seven more Ducks players to the minor leagues. A few of these players were scheduled to play in the game tonight, so a few of the remaining players were given the opportunity to fill-in for them. To view the newly reassigned players, click here.
The Ducks will have Sunday off before taking on the San Jose Sharks at Honda Center.