If overcoming adversity is the price of an education, the playoff-bound Los Angeles Kings passed with flying colors Tuesday night in Anaheim. The Kings rallied from a 4-1 deficit on goals by Alexander Frolov, Justin Williams and Michal Handzus to beat the Ducks 5-4 in a shootout at Honda Center.
"It's big," Kopitar said of the comeback victory. "It shows we can do it."
Frolov scored a power-play goal late in the second period, Williams connected 7:56 into the third and Handzus' 19th of the season tied the game with 69 seconds left in regulation and goalie Erik Ersberg on the bench for an extra attacker.
"We didn't panic at all," said Ersberg, who relieved Jonathan Quick and got the win. "We just kept going, trusted our system and trusted our team. It just worked out."
The Ducks were officially eliminated during the game when Colorado won at Vancouver.
"Maybe we sat back a little bit tonight," center Corey Perry said of his team's having squandered a three-goal lead.
That theme echoed throughout the Ducks' locker room.
"Today was a game that was very similar to many that we've played this year," Scott Niedermayer said. "It was disappointing to let it slip away."
With 97 points, the Kings moved into sixth place in the Western Conference, one point ahead of Detroit. Each team has three games remaining. The Kings, 3-0-1 in their last four games, are one point behind fifth-place Nashville and have a game in hand on the Predators.
Anaheim started the game as if it would run the Kings back up the highway.
After just missing an early opportunity from in close, Lubomir Visnovsky drew a hooking penalty from Sean O'Donnell and the Ducks converted on their first power play.
Scott Niedermayer tipped the puck over the blue line to Bobby Ryan, who gathered it along the boards and skated to the corner, where he slipped a pass to Jason Blake, trailing on the play. Blake snapped a quick shot from in close that beat Jonathan Quick to give the Ducks an early lead at 5:28.
Just one minute after Curtis McElhinney stopped Frolov on a breakaway, the Ducks went up 2-0 when Teemu Selanne lifted his own rebound over Quick's outstretched right pad at 16:48 for his 25th of the season.
Ryan's first goal in nine games gave the Ducks a ahead 3-0 lead at 2:01 of the second period after a misplay. Quick retrieved the puck after a routine dump-in and passed it to Randy Jones, who couldn't handle it. Ryan pounced, shooting it into the vacated net before Quick could return.
Just 48 seconds after play resumed, Kings coach Terry Murray had seen enough, replacing Quick with Ersberg at 2:49.
"It looks like his concentration is off a bit here," Murray said of Quick. "We'll just have to get him going, (it's) a critical position. He'll bounce back."
The Kings finally got on the board at 9:46 of the second period when Dustin Brown swatted home his own rebound for his fourth goal in three games. The hard-charging Brown skated down the left wing boards and past James Wisniewski en route to his 22nd goal.
"Those are the types of goals we're going to have to score more of in the coming weeks," Brown said.
Selanne answered at 12:19 with his second of the night - and 605th of his career - on the power play. Selanne has five goals and two assists in his last three games.
The Ducks had a seemingly comfortable 4-1 lead, but their failure to add to it proved their undoing.
"We thought that it was going to be an easy game after it got to 4-1," coach Randy Carlyle said. "We weren't hard enough on the puck, there were too many easy plays. We stopped committing to taking the body as we (had) earlier."
"They had more shots in the overtime than they had in the rest of the game," Ersberg guessed, correctly. The Ducks managed seven extra-session shots, topping their shot totals in each of the three complete periods in regulation. While the Ducks scored four goals on their first 11 shots, the Kings outshot the Ducks 40-21 overall.
The Ducks aren't enamored about the idea that their season will end with Sunday's home game against Edmonton
"When you're eliminated from the postseason and you're not going to play any games after April 11, that's very foreign to this organization, we take this very seriously," Carlyle said. "It's not something we're going to accept. We had some peaks and valleys (this season). The valleys cost us."
Frolov started the Kings' rally when he drew an interference penalty and crashed the net on the ensuing power play. The popped up, rolled over his back and snuck in behind McElhinney at 16:41. Williams made it a one-goal game when he outskated Steve Eminger and deked past McElhinney before tucking the puck inside the left post.
"On our side, our shot mentality was good in the second half of the game," Murray said. "I thought we used our defensemen more than we have in the last 10 games."
The Kings' defensive corps registered nine shots on goal.
It was the seventh time this season that the Kings have won when trailing after two periods.
|PPG - Jason Blake (16) ASST: Bobby Ryan (28), Scott Niedermayer (38)|
1 - 0 ANA
|Teemu Selanne (25) ASST: Jason Blake (25), Lubomir Visnovsky (29)|
2 - 0 ANA
|Bobby Ryan (32) ASST: NONE|
3 - 0 ANA
|Dustin Brown (22) ASST: Drew Doughty (42)|
3 - 1 ANA
|PPG - Teemu Selanne (26) ASST: Lubomir Visnovsky (30), Saku Koivu (31)|
4 - 1 ANA
|PPG - Alex Frolov (19) ASST: Dustin Brown (30), Randy Jones (16)|
4 - 2 ANA
|Justin Williams (10) ASST: Anze Kopitar (45), Ryan Smyth (29)|
4 - 3 ANA
|Michal Handzus (19) ASST: Justin Williams (18), Freddy Modin (6)|
4 - 4 Tie
|1||C. Perry||J. Stoll|
|2||T. Selanne||J. Johnson|
|3||S. Koivu||A. Kopitar|
|James Wisniewski Hi-sticking against Anze Kopitar|
|Sean O'Donnell Hooking against Lubomir Visnovsky|
|Sheldon Brookbank Roughing against Rich Clune|
|Wayne Simmonds Slashing against Mike Brown|
|James Wisniewski Interference against Alex Frolov|
|Anze Kopitar Interference on goalkeeper against Curtis McElhinney|