LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks went two decades without playing each other in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so it seems natural that the Southern California rivals will go to a Game 7 in the first Freeway Series.
After a 99-degree day in Los Angeles, the Kings cooled off the Ducks with a signature defensive effort in a 2-1 win at Staples Center on Wednesday, forcing the teams to make one more trip down Interstate 5 to settle their Western Conference Second Round series. Game 7 is Friday at Honda Center (9 p.m. ET; NBCSN, TSN, RDS). The winner meets the Chicago Blackhawks in the conference final.
Game 7 theater doesn't get much better in a region that hasn't seen the backyard rivalry reach this level.
"Everyone is going to be excited," Kings defenseman Drew Doughty said. "The bars will be packed. The arena will be packed. There will be lots of fans watching this one. We're just as excited. We're happy to be in this for California, obviously, but at the same time it is a war out there for us. We want to win and they want to win and it's going to be a good game."
Los Angeles got goals from Trevor Lewis and Jake Muzzin before allowing one on an atypically poor play by goalie Jonathan Quick to snap Anaheim's three-game winning streak. The Kings, who came back from a 3-0 series deficit in the first round against the San Jose Sharks, are 7-1 in elimination games during the past two seasons.
Los Angeles is 5-0 in these Stanley Cup Playoffs when leading after two periods after it closed out Anaheim to trigger falling confetti in the last thrilling series installment at Staples Center. The Kings held the Ducks scoreless on five power plays after Anaheim went 4-for-8 in Games 3, 4 and 5, and they held captain Ryan Getzlaf without a point for the first time in the series.
Anaheim's 0-for-5 power-play performance actually looked a lot worse.
"It stunk," Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau said. "Did we get any shots on the five attempts? Nothing A-1. We didn't move the puck very well and we didn't support it very well. We've been good for the most part, but it's back to the drawing board with that."
Anaheim forward Andrew Cogliano isn't surprised the teams will play for the 12th time this season and lamented what could have been in a tight defensive game.
"There's a lot of character guys in both rooms," Cogliano said. "There's a lot of winners, and there's guys that simply don't want to lose. When you have that, you're going to have a battle. We know they've come back from 3-0 down to San Jose. They were up 2-0 on us and we beat them three times in a row. It's pretty tough to beat them four times. But I thought we were right there. I thought we were one shot away."
Anaheim pulled to 2-1 at 15:42 of the second period on a wraparound goal by Kyle Palmieri, who drove down the right side past Jeff Schultz, circled the net and found a gaping net Quick uncharacteristically left open. A turnover at the blue line facilitated the entry.
It was an important goal for the Ducks after they controlled play for a stretch only to see 20-year-old rookie goalie John Gibson give up his first bad goal of the playoffs. Lewis skated down left wing with Bryan Allen defending and wristed a low shot that slipped through Gibson at 14:04 for a 2-0 lead.
Lewis, who scored six goals in 73 regular-season games, got his fourth of the playoffs.
As expected, the Kings began the game heavy on the forecheck and got back to their style on their way to a 1-0 lead after the first period on Muzzin's first goal of the series. It was a foreboding sign for Anaheim because the team that has scored first has won every game of the series.
"It's hard to play from behind against these guys, that's why it's important to come out and get that first goal, get the lead and play with the lead," Ducks forward Corey Perry said. "They're a different team when they play from behind. We have to come out in Game 7 and really start with that push that we need and hopefully carry over that first one."
Muzzin snuck in on the back side to snap in Anze Kopitar's pass at 8:16. Gibson didn't have much chance on the play, although the puck went in off his right side. It was the first goal by a Kings defensemen in the series other than Alec Martinez.
Los Angeles nearly made it 2-0 when Gibson came out of his crease to clear the puck, but it hit Getzlaf's leg before Marian Gaborik nearly got it on his stick with the net open. Anaheim was outshot 8-5 in the first period, mainly because it couldn't break out properly. The Kings won 15 of 21 faceoffs in the period.
Anaheim will need improvement from Getzlaf and Perry in Game 7 after the two combined for two shots and a minus-2 rating. Getzlaf lost 14 of 20 faceoffs.
The Kings know they have to shut down Getzlaf and his line; however, they can't do it at the cost of ignoring the Ducks' other lines.
"I wouldn't say we're focusing only on that line, because they have lots of other firepower, but obviously when he's on the ice, they've been hurting us the last couple of games," Kopitar said of Getzlaf. "Maybe we pay attention a little bit more, but you can't respect them too much."