Anaheim Ducks Defeat Los Angeles Kings 6-5 in Shootout, Thriller

4 of 5

Nov 5, 2014; Anaheim, CA, USA; New York Islanders center John Tavares (91) battles with Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Kesler (17) for the puck during overtime at Honda Center. The New York Islanders defeated the Anaheim Ducks in overtime with a final score of 3-2. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

First Star: Ryan Kesler, C (2 G, 1 A, Shootout Winner,+3, 8 Hits, 3 Takeaways, 55.6 FO%, 67.86 CF% (5-on-5), 21:33 TOI)

The Ducks acquired Kesler because they directly wanted to address the biggest weakness that the Kings exposed last postseason: the Ducks’ lack of strength at center behind Getzlaf. Anaheim paid a hefty price, but Kesler has been terrific for the Ducks, and he performed in the manner that the Ducks expected him to when they acquired him. Kesler scored two huge goals and also netted the shootout winner, and both his presence and play were instrumental in the Ducks finding a way to win this game.

Kesler has always been a heart-and-soul type of player who refuses to quit under any circumstance. His wrap-around goal to make the score 5-4 was done mostly by sheer willpower and plowing through the opposition. The Ducks folded under pressure last season against the Kings in Game 7 and in the year before that against the Red Wings. But Kesler did everything he could to win, which included engaging in the corners and on the forecheck (he led the team with eight hits). The Ducks had 19 shots for with him on the ice at even strength, as opposed to nine against. This type of game and atmosphere is exactly why the Ducks acquired Kesler. He didn’t just perform, he exceeded expectations and was clearly the best Anaheim Ducks player on the ice in this game.