ANAHEIM – Try as they might, the Anaheim Ducks just can’t seem to figure out Jonathan Quick.
For the second straight game, the Kings goaltender was nearly infallible, this time stopping 36 Ducks shots to lead LA to a 2-1 victory in Game 2 and a 2-0 lead in this unprecedented Battle for California series.
The Ducks outshot the Kings 37-17 in the game, including 27-9 in the final two periods, but a 4-on-3 goal midway through the first period was the only scoring they could generate.
"I’m ticked off right now," said Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf. "We’re in playoff time right now. There are no excuses for anything. We have to be better, I have to be better, and I expect our group to respond."
Anaheim’s desperation for a tying goal extended through the game's last 50 minutes, peaking with them sending goalie Jonas Hiller to the bench for an extra attacker with a little over a minute left. But the Ducks couldn’t get a shot off, and LA’s Dwight King chased down the puck in the Anaheim end and threw it into the open net.
Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau was complimentary of Quick, but said his Ducks made things easy on him.
"He was pretty good tonight, but if you don’t get traffic in front of him and you don’t go to the net, you’re not going to score," Boudreau said. "If he can see everything, he’s going to stop it. There were no second chances. They blocked out. We didn’t get to the front of the net to get the rebounds for the dirty, greasy goals that we got all year. If we continue to play the perimeter, we’re not going to have success against him."
Marian Gaborik, the hero of Game 1 for the Kings, continued his hot play with the first goal of the game tonight. Just 34 seconds after the opening faceoff, Gaborik snuck in front of Ducks defenseman Ben Lovejoy and lifted a wrister past Hiller.
"That’s not the start that we expect of our group, especially us up front," Getzlaf said. "That’s not the way we can start a hockey game. That’s on us. We tried to work and get back at it after that. You can’t sulk on those things. We were able to respond pretty quickly after that."
Indeed, Anaheim got even near the midway point of the first thanks to a 4-on-3 power play stemming from a Drew Doughty hooking minor. Patrick Maroon attempted a blind pass across the crease, but it deflected off Kings d-man Jake Muzzin over the stripe.
LA went back in front with a little less than eight minutes left in the first when Alec Martinez (who scored the first goal of Game 1), hammered a slap shot that got behind Hiller. That would hold up as the game-winner, as the Kings defense was outstanding all night.
It started with Quick, who allowed precious few rebound opportunities, but extended beyond their net, as the Ducks had difficulty connecting on passes throughout the evening.
"You have to battle through that," said Ducks winger Corey Perry. "If you’re going to accept that, you’re not going to have any chances to score. We had a lot of shots, but the quality of second opportunities we didn’t have.
"He saw a lot of pucks tonight. That’s the frustrating part because we talked about that before the game."
The series shifts up the freeway to Los Angeles, starting with Thursday’s Game 3 at Staples Center.
"It’s a tough building to play in, but we’ve won there before," Perry said. "Hopefully we can go in and play that road game that we want to play. We’ve had success on the road this year, and hopefully we can do that."
The Ducks, who won four out of five against the Kings this regular season, took both meetings at Staples Center.
"We're depressed right now, but we'll build ourselves up tomorrow and be ready to go Thursday," said Boudreau. "This series isn't over. We can go to Staples Center, get a few bounces and bring this series back tied."