By Kyle Shohara
LOS ANGELES – The Ducks completed their morning skate here inside Staples Center in preparation for Game 3 of the second round series against the LA Kings. And for the first time in the postseason, the Ducks find themselves in a virtual must-win game.
Though the all-time record of teams coming back from a two-games-to-none deficit are slim (48 of 289), the Ducks feel confident in themselves and believe they can not only take tonight’s game, but Saturday’s as well. The onus is on them to make that belief a reality.
“This is all about us,” said defenseman Ben Lovejoy. “We feel we have more to give. We feel we’re a much better team than we’ve shown so far. It’s up to us to prove it. We’ve yet to put together a full 60-minute game, and that’s what it takes to beat the Kings.”
The Ducks were undefeated in LA in the regular season, and defenseman Cam Fowler says the success here was attributed to a safe and simple road game. Tonight, they’ll look to come out of the gates strong.
“We want to come out within the first 5 or 10 minutes and weather the storm,” said Fowler. “If we can get out of those first 5 or 10 minutes with a tie or the lead, we’ve put ourselves in a good position. We’ve proven to ourselves that we can win [at Staples Center]. It’s going to be a much different atmosphere tonight for playoff hockey, but it gives us some confidence.”
Though not confirmed, forward Kyle Palmieri is expected to draw back into the lineup tonight. The gritty forward has one point (goal) in four postseason games, and says he hopes to provide a spark in this crucial Game 3. “Just bringing a lot of energy and putting pucks to the net,” he said, of his game. “Hopefully I can help get this series back to 2-1 tonight.”
Earlier today, the Ducks announced they recalled defenseman Sami Vatanen from Norfolk of the American Hockey League. Vatanen was in the midst of a second-round series against the St. John’s Ice Caps (series tied 1-1) at the time of his recall. Vatanen, 22 (6/3/91), earned 6-15=21 points with a +9 rating and 22 PIM in 48 regular-season games for the Ducks in 2013-14. He finished the regular season tied for fifth among rookie NHL defensemen and co-led Anaheim blueliners in goals. In 56 career NHL games, Vatanen has collected 8-15=23 points with a +12 rating and 22 penalty minutes (PIM).
Vatanen did not appear in last season’s first-round series vs. Detroit, and although neither he nor head coach Bruce Boudreau would confirm him in tonight’s lineup, Vatanen says he’s been waiting for this opportunity for a long time. “It’s one of my dreams to play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs,” he said. “Maybe I have a chance tonight. I have to use it and play my game and help the team win.”
“He’s not as big or physical as the rest of them, but he brings more of an offensive game than other guys,” said Boudreau. “He’s a power-play guy. He’s been on our power play as much as he’s been up here. He’s always played that position.”
PAINT IT ORANGE AT STAPLES CENTER
As always, Ducks fans are encouraged to “Paint it Orange” wherever they are, and that includes Staples Center. For fans attending Game 3, head to the Anaheim Ducks Team Store Powered by Reebok at Honda Center today (10 a.m. - 5 p.m.) to pick up orange rally towels and 'Beat LA' thundersticks (while supplies last). You will need to show your ticket(s) or will call confirmation.
For those interested in watching tonight’s game with fellow Ducks fans, head to Tilted Kilt of Orange (1625 W. Katella Ave, Orange, CA 92867) for an Official Ducks Watch Party. Enjoy great food and drinks, intermission trivia and the opportunity to win player autographed items.